I am wondering about the spelling of these two words. Why is "free rider" spelled as two words, while "freeloader" is only one? Is there a rule for this?

Furthermore, where is the exact difference between the two words or are they synonyms? When would we choose one over the other?

Finally, is this question better suited for this community or better in "English Language and Usage"?


The word "freeloader" dates from around 1940, combining the words free (in the sense of "without cost") and load, (meaning "put a burden or load on").

There is no specific explanation except that some words become compound words over time, often due to frequent usage.

I can't explain why skateboard has become one word when ironing board has not.

Or why makeup is a compound word without a hyphen but make-believe is hyphenated.

Perhaps "freeloader" is used more than "free rider"? Certainly, I have heard the former more than the latter.

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