What are Compound Words? Examples of Open, Closed and Hyphenated Compound Words

compound words
Last Updated: May 23, 2018

What are Compound Words?

It’s best to define compound words with an example:

Grand + Mother

On their own, both these words have separate meanings. But when you put these two words together, it creates an entirely different word and meaning.


For compound words, when you put two different words together, it forms another word and meaning. There are different types of compound words. For example, compound words can have hyphens, spaces or no spaces at all between the two words.

Types of Compound Words

Over time, English has morphed itself. As a result, people have created new types of compound words. In turn, this language gets passed along and circulated to what it is today.

In terms of compound words, they’ve transformed into various types. For example, compound words can have hyphens, spaces or no spaces at all between the two words. There are 3 types of compound words:

  • Hyphenated Compound Words
  • Closed Compound Words
  • Open Compound Words

Below, we have added lists of examples for all the types of compound words.

Hyphenated Compound Words Examples

Hyphenated compound words place a hyphen between the two words. For example, “well-being” is a hyphenated compound word because it connects two words together with a hyphen.

  • High-speed
  • Empty-handed
  • Mass-production
  • High-tech
  • Deep-fried
  • Left-handed
  • In-depth
  • Full-length
  • Part-time
  • Time-saving
  • North-east
  • Sun-dried
  • Long-haired

Closed Compound Words Examples

Closed compound words don’t have any spaces between the two combined words. For example, “playground” is a closed compound word because it doesn’t have a space between it.

  • Playground
  • Footprint
  • Fishbowl
  • Grasshopper
  • Bookmark
  • Keyhole
  • Bowtie
  • Popcorn
  • Basketball
  • Horseshoe
  • Keyboard
  • Notepad
  • Skateboard

Open Compound Words Examples

Open compound words put two words together to create a meaningful weird but uses a space to separate them. For instance, high school is an open compound word.

  • High school
  • Living room
  • Roller coaster
  • Peanut butter
  • First aid
  • Web page
  • Hot dog
  • Voice mail
  • Table cloth
  • Fire drill
  • Ice cream

What’s Next?

What do Superman, Robocop and Catwoman all have in common?

They’re superheroes! Yes. But they’re also all compound words too. Actually, there are compound words everywhere.

And they’re tons of fun to teach with our free compound words worksheets. What are some of your favorite compound words?

And if you want to teach compound words, check out our free compound words worksheets that you can use in your classroom today.

1 Comment

  1. As far as I know, {superman} is not a compound because {super-} is a prefix. Thus, {superman} is a complex word. {catwoman} is a compound word because {cat} and {woman} are free morphemes.

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