How is “mechanism” split (hyphenated) at the end of the line?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mechanism says mech·a·nism but

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mechanism?s=t says mech·an·ism.

Where can I split the word at the end of a line? Is the difference between the on-line sources about British versus American English (which one is which), or is one simply wrong, or what circumstances do I have to pay attention for to determine which one to choose? (If there is a third, better, free on-line resource, naming its url for future use is also welcome!)

  • I din' get the question. Are you talking about the pronunciation? If yes, it depends how you speak it.
    – Maulik V
    Jun 9, 2015 at 11:42
  • 1
    @MaulikV OP's talking about soft hyphens in word-breaking line wrapping en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Kreiri
    Jun 9, 2015 at 11:51
  • english.stackexchange.com/questions/385 might be of interest to you.
    – nkjt
    Jun 9, 2015 at 13:48
  • @MaulikV: Kreiri is right. Please excuse me for not communicating that clearly enough.
    – Stephen
    Jun 9, 2015 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Here are some rules about word division.

Rule 1 is to split between syllables, and that's what 'mech·a·nism' does. However, rule 3 is that prefixes and suffixes make natural divides and that's what 'mech·an·ism' does.

In general though, word breaks should match up with the pronunciation of the word, and the pronunciation guides from the dictionaries are clear that the n sound stays with 'nism'. So while either hyphenation is potentially OK, the first one is likely to be the better choice.

The Oxford Style Guide on word division has some more examples.

  • +1 & thank you! Note: the Oxford Style Guide requires a subscription. - Syllables and pronunciation are possible issues for an ELL (like me), thus also thanks for the explanation regarding the specific case of "mechanism".
    – Stephen
    Jun 9, 2015 at 17:26
  • Note that Americans use different rules, for example they do not normally split a word after a short vowel.
    – JavaLatte
    May 25, 2016 at 18:02

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