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What is an Open Compound Word? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Compound Words
  • 0:43 Open Compound Words
  • 1:09 Examples
  • 2:30 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.

Are you a fan of french fries and ice cream? These words have more in common than just describing delicious foods; they are both open compound words. Learn what open compound words are and see examples of open compound words in this lesson.

Compound Words

When you hear the word 'hot dog' what comes to mind? You probably think about a food served on a bun and not your pet baking in the sun! Even though the words 'hot' and 'dog' have their own meanings, when we say these words together they take on a new and different meaning: a food served at most barbeques. That's because 'hot dog' is a compound word.

Compound words are two or more words combined to form a new word with its own, unique meaning. When we think about compound words, we usually think of words like breakfast, bedtime or airplane. These compound words are formed by combining two smaller words into one larger word.

Open Compound Words

By now I'm sure you have noticed that 'hot dog' doesn't quite look like those other compound words. That's because hot dog is a specific type of compound word called an open compound word.

Open compound words are compound words written as two separate words but said together as one word with its own meaning. In other terms, a compound word is made up of two or more words that are written separately, meaning they have a space between them.

Examples

Now let's look at some sentences using open compound words.

  • To satisfy my sweet tooth, I ate a banana split.

Can you spot the two open compound words in this sentence? 'Sweet tooth' and 'banana split' are both open compound words, because their parts are separated by a space but when the parts are read together they take on a larger meaning.

'Sweet' by itself means sugary, but when it is combined with 'tooth', the word for the body parts in your mouth used for chewing, it expresses the idea of craving sugary foods.

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