What Are Compound Words? - Meaning & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Are Compound Words?
  • 0:55 Types of Compound Words
  • 1:49 Word Dective
  • 3:38 Examples
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

What do pancakes and a shipwreck have in common? Solve this riddle by learning what compound words are, how to identify different types of compound words and seeing examples of compound words in this lesson.

What Are Compound Words?

Imagine a feast of cheesecake, jellybeans, watermelon, cupcakes, meatballs, and strawberries. What do all of these foods have in common, besides being delicious? The names for these foods are all compound words.

Compound words are made up of two or more smaller words that are combined to make a new word with its own meaning. The smaller words that form a compound word are like puzzle pieces you fit together to create a new bigger picture. Take the words milk and shake. If we fit these pieces together, we get the compound word milkshake.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. Can you think of other foods that are compound words? What about doughnut? The ingredients for this compound word are the smaller words dough and nut.

Types of Compound Words

Not all compound words are put together the same way. There are three types of compound words: closed, open and hyphenated.

  1. Closed compound words are made up of two words without a space in-between. Examples of closed compound words are: moonlight, classroom, and sunflower.
  2. Open compound words have a space between the smaller words that make them up. Even though the words seem separate, when you read them together they have a new meaning. Full moon is an open compound word. When we read the smaller separate words 'full' and 'moon' together, they have a new, unique meaning.
  3. Hyphenated compound words are formed by using a hyphen, a small dash used to connect words together. Numbers like fifty-nine and twenty-one are hyphenated compound words.

Word Detective

Tracking down clues, solving mysteries, the life of a detective sounds pretty exciting. Many compound words let you play word detective. Sometimes you can use the smaller words that make up a compound word as clues to its meaning.

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