Say you want to make up some new words, like the following. How do you decide whether to hyphenate them or not?

Stop your silly-talking/silly talking. Stop your hand-dancing/hand dancing. Stop your mouth-twitching/mouth twitching. Stop your toe-curling/toe curling.

Much confused after googling for a couple hours. thanks

  • No need for a hyphen. Those are just gerunds modified by nouns. What is hand dancing anyway? Look at this: Stop talking silly. In any case, there is no hyphen.
    – Lambie
    Apr 24 at 18:02
  • Hand-dancing is a form of worship.
    – Himara
    Apr 24 at 18:39
  • 1
    If it is a form of worship, it is not a made-up word.
    – Lambie
    Apr 24 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


If you are "making up new words" that is cool, but it immediately puts you in the "playground" not the "office". That means that if you are writing a business letter, you should not be making up new words.

If you are playing with language then you are breaking the rules and having fun. Please do this, but don't then ask for the rules!

Does the hyphen make it easier to understand. Do the words get put together to form a new single "word" or are they just positioned as two words.

So "Stop your silly talking" that is clearly two words, with silly being an adjective. "Stop your toe curling" again two words. Here "toe" is a noun.

But a "She's a silly-talking girl" The combination "silly-talking" could be said to form a single word, so could be hyphenated.

None of this is very natural or idiomatic. But if you are "playing" then do you care about being idiomatic?

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