Thanks to Lambie I recently learned that compound adjectives are hyphenated, for example server-side request forgery.

When looking up server-side include(s), it appears that most places write this without a hyphen. To me, it seems that server-side modifies include(s), functioning as an adjective. Someone even made a redirect from server-side to server side on Wikipedia. Microsoft also speaks of Server Side Include. The Indiana University does the same.

What makes this situation different from server-side request forgery?

  • Server Side Management or Client Side Management are not adjectives, those are nouns. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 16:04
  • Server Side Include is a feature, or as they say, a protocol. Those are names, hence nouns. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 16:08
  • Your link to Free Dictionary site doesn't highlight its usage as Server-side, it is just redirected because you typed in that way. See this result, acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/Server+side+include. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 16:11
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    @Luc - compound adjectives may be hyphenated; they do not have to be. Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 16:28
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    The rule is more of a suggestion if needed for clarity or consistency.
    – Justin
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


The hyphenated form is the one that is grammatically correct, but the hyphen is often omitted in casual contexts.

In the case of SSI, the form without the hyphen is simpler and cleaner, and these considerations may be more important than following the formal grammar. A hyphen would also create ambiguity about which letters to include in the abbreviated form (e.g. SI vs. SSI).

More, terms used in computer software (and hardware) often do not follow the standard features of language. They are as much marketing tools as descriptions of features, standards, or technologies.

For close analogy, "random-access memory" and "read-only memory" are often given without hyphenation, and reference sources appear to vary on the recommendation. In either case, the middle term appearing in the initials, RAM versus ROM, is essential to express the distinction.

  • I'll add that especially in technical contexts, it's often important to use the exact phrasing used by other people or in documentation. "Server Side Include" without the hyphen has become jargon at this point. Clarity would not be improved by re-adding it. Commented Dec 24, 2020 at 20:09
  • @solublefish: The phrase originated not as jargon but as a choice for the name of a feature. The question is why the particular form of the name was chosen. That the name, once chosen, should be copied exactly is given.
    – brainchild
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 0:11

server-side x is an adjective and a noun.

For example: 1) Server-side scripting is a technique used in web development which involves employing scripts on a web server which produce a response customised for each user's (client's) request to the website. The alternative is for the web server itself to deliver a static web page. Scripts can be written in any of a number of server-side scripting languages that are available (see below). Server-side scripting is distinguished from client-side scripting where embedded scripts, such as JavaScript, are run client-side in a web browser, but both techniques are often used together.**

server-side scripting

  1. TITLE:

Introduction to the Server Side [used as noun, no dash, unusual but OK usage]
**Welcome to the MDN beginner's server-side programming course! **

Perhaps the most significant benefit of server-side code is that it allows you to tailor website content for individual users.

If you are just talking, and know what is being referred to, you can use server side with no noun or dash. If, however, a noun is used, it's best to use a dash.

Server-side steps

server-side management and client-side management, follow the same rule.

These things are much clearer when a dash is used.


Server-side vs. client-only rules Outlook for Microsoft 365 Outlook 2019 Outlook 2016 Outlook 2013 Rules are either server-side or client-only based on the conditions and actions you apply to them.

Server-side rules use conditions and actions handled by the Exchange server, and these rules run whether or not you log in to Outlook on your computer. Here’s an example of a server-side rule:

server-side versus client-only rules

Summary: server-side x, client-side x are used as adjectives plus a noun. In the Microsoft example, you can even see: client-only rules. Also, an adjective plus a noun. There are others but I don't have them all in my head.

This is exactly like: sugar-free drinks.

When you don't see a dash, it's because people do not know or are lazy.

  • Thanks again :) Could you comment on why it isn't a compound noun like Dhanishtha Ghosh commented? I'm wondering now if there is a good way to tell when something is a compound noun and when part of it is an adjective.
    – Luc
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 7:49
  • client side and server side are an adjective plus a noun: client=adjective, side=noun, for example. But when you use either one along with another term: server-side programming, server side functions like an adjective qualifying programming.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 14:42

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