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Compound Nouns- Definition, Type, List, Examples

The Compound noun is a special type of noun that is formed when a noun or another part of speech like verb, preposition, etc., combines to form a noun. In this post, students will learn all the details regarding the compound nouns starting from its definition to examples.

Compound Nouns

A compound noun’s basic concept is straightforward at first glance. It’s a phrase made up of two or more distinct nouns combined. The use of compound nouns is a regular feature of English speech and writing. In fact, these nouns are so common in English that you might not even be aware that some of the terms you use on a daily basis are them. Just three examples include software, sunrise, and bag.

Compound Nouns Meaning

A noun that is created by combining more than one component of speech is known as a compound noun. There are three primary categories of these special nouns: closed or solid compound nouns, hyphenated compound nouns, and open or spaced compound nouns.

Compound Nouns Definition

A compound nouns is described as “a noun that is made up of two or more separate words, for example, “cake store,” “French fries,” “high-flyer,” or “schoolteacher,” according to the Cambridge Dictionary.”

The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary offers a similar definition. ‘A noun, an adjective, or a verb made of two or more words or parts of words, written as one or more words, or joined by a hyphen,’ is how it defines this noun. Travel agent, dark-haired and bathroom are all examples of this special noun.’

Compound Noun Types

There are 3 types of these special nouns in English Grammar. Check their definition and examples below.

Spaced or Open Compound Noun

A type of noun that has a space between its two constituent components is called an open or spaced compound noun.

Examples: Fast food, Cricket bat, flower store

Hyphenated Compound Nouns

A type of noun that has two words separated by a hyphen is called a hyphenated compound noun.

Example: Mother-in-law, By-product, Passer-by

Closed or solid compound Nouns

When there are no hyphens or spaces between the two words in a compound noun, it is said to be closed or solid. Typically, they are regarded as a single word.

Example: Sunflower, Rainfall, Classroom

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Compound Noun Formations

The compound nouns are formed by joining the Noun with the following combinations.

noun + noun basketball, bookstore
noun + verb snowfall, haircut
noun + adjective lime green, town square
noun + prepositional phrase son-in-law, lady-in-waiting
verb + noun surfboard, swimsuit
preposition + noun onlooker, underworld
verb + preposition lookout, go-between
adjective + noun black box, hot dog

Compound Nouns List

The list of important compound nouns are given below that are frequently used.

afterbirth dishwasher heartbeat saltwater
aftermath doorbell highway saucepan
aircraft downfall homework sawdust
airfield downpour honeymoon screenplay
airmail drawback horsepower screwdriver
armchair dressmaker housework seashell
armpit driveway jellyfish seaweed
background drugstore jigsaw shellfish
backlash drumstick keyboard shoplifter
backlog eardrum kneecap shorthand
backside earphone ladybug shotgun
bandwagon earring leftovers sickbed
bankbook earthworm letterhead sideburns
banknote earwig lighthouse sidekick
barman egghead lipstick sidewalk
baseball eyelid loophole silkworm
bathroom eyewitness lovebird skullcap
bedspread farmhouse mailbox skyscraper
bedtime fatherhood manhunt slaughterhouse
billboard feedback mastermind sleepwalking
blackbird fingernail middleman snowball
blacklist fingerprint neighborhood snowfall
bulldog firearm network softball
bullfight firefly newsletter songbird
catfish firewood newspaper soundtrack
chairman fishbowl nightclub spaceship
cheapskate floodlight nightmare sportsman
checkup footnote notebook spotlight
chopstick footprint outlook stalemate
clockwork freeway overcoat stepchild
clotheshorse foretaste overseas stopwatch
clothesline fruitcake overtime strongbox
copycat gatecrasher painkiller suitcase
copyright ghostwriter pancake summertime
cornerstone godfather paperback sunspot
countdown goldfish passport sweetheart
countryside greenhouse password swordfish
courthouse guidebook penknife tablespoon
courtyard guideline pickpocket teardrop
cowboy gunfire pigtail teaspoon
crackdown gunpowder pocketknife toadstool
crossroad hairdresser quicksand toothpick
cutback handbag racehorse tugboat
daybreak handshake rainbow watchdog
daytime handwriting rattlesnake wheelchair
deadline headlight roadrunner windpipe
deadlock headquarters runway wiretap

Different Types of Compound Nouns Based on Formations

The formation of the noun of compound type can take place by joining a noun with another noun, adjective, verb, preposition, etc. We have provided some formation types along with their examples below.

Noun + Noun

Noun Noun Example
Bus Stop Bus stop
Foot Ball Football
Air Port Airport
Basket Ball Basketball
Railway Station Railway station

Noun + Verb

Noun Verb Example
Sun Rise Sunrise
Sun Set Sunset
Foot Print Footprint
Snow Fall Snowfall
Rain Fall Rainfall

Preposition + Noun

Preposition Noun Example
Under Line Underline
Under Ground Underground
Off Shore Offshore
Up Stairs Upstairs
Over Night Overnight

Adjective + Noun

Adjective Noun Example
Black Board Blackboard
White Board Whiteboard
Hard Ware Hardware
Hot Spot Hotspot
Soft Ware Software

Noun + Gerund

Noun Example Noun Gerund
Birdwatching Bird Watching
Handwriting Hand Writing
Sightseeing Sight Seeing
Bookkeeping Book Keeping
Ballet dancing Ballet Dancing
Time consuming Time Consuming
River rafting River Rafting
Mountain climbing Mountain Climbing
Cat walking Cat Walking

Compound Noun Examples and Exercises

  1. Compound nouns can be created in a few distinct ways. Sometimes, two words are just squashed together. Examples of these so-called closed nouns are given below:
  • playground
  • windshield
  • Keyboard
  1. A hyphen connects other nouns together in a tidy manner. These are called hyphenated compound nouns, and examples include:
  • father-in-law
  • X-ray
  • Merry-go-round
  1. Then there are special category of nouns with no connections at all. These are referred to as open compound nouns, and some examples are as follows:
  • trash can
  • garden gnome
  • peanut butter
  1. We frequently experience uncertainty while constructing the possessive case of a composite noun. Where should the apostrophe be placed? The compound noun is always completed with an apostrophe (‘s’).
  • Stepson’s
  • Kickboxer’s
  • Father-in-law’s
  1. The suffix -s is combined with the root word or base word to create plural compound nouns. The term in this noun known as the “root word” is the most important and provides these nouns with its meaning.
  • Stepdaughters
  • Airports
  • Maidservants 

Compound Noun Examples in Sentences Key Points

  • These nouns are special category nouns made up of two or more words together.
  • Examples include haircuts, waiting lists, sister-in-laws, the underground, and windsurfing.
  • The general class to which the composite noun belongs is implied by one of the two words. Within that class, the other states its kind.
  • A noun, an adjective, a verb, or a preposition can be combined with another noun to form this unique type of noun.
  • These nouns can be made plural by adding the suffix -s to the base or root word. For instance, in-law sisters, swimming pools, cookbooks, etc.
  • These nouns are given the possessive case by inserting an apostrophe (‘s’) at the end. For instance, the Spider-Man, Policeman, or sister-in- law’s.
Related Articles
Common Nouns Singular Nouns
Collective Nouns Proper Nouns
Plural Nouns Abstract Nouns

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What distinguishes compound nouns from phrases?

In contrast to noun phrases, which do not place emphasis on either word, compound nouns normally place emphasis on the first term ("HOT dog" — the meal).

Does these special nouns always contain two words.

The compound noun can be written as a single word, a word with a hyphen, or as two words, as you may have seen. There are no set guidelines for this.

What is a compound word?

A compound word is created by joining two or more words, hyphens included or not.

What is a closed type of noun?

a word combination with no spaces. Dishcloth, keyboard, pancake, and waterproof are a few examples.

Why is there a hyphen in some nouns of compound type?

Because it prevents the prepositions from being understood as separate grammatical entities, compound nouns containing prepositions are almost always hyphenated.

Is Breakfast a noun of compound type?

Breakfast is a composite word made up of the words "break" and "quick."

Is there such a thing as a composite noun?

No there is nothing called composite nouns. There are only compound type of nouns.

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