An ode to the humble hyphen

Olivia Staser/Staff

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I think if I am a grammar symbol, 

I am the most humble one: the hyphen.

The word comes from the Greeks, apparently

back then it meant “together,” contracted

from the words “hupó” which meant under and

“hén” which meant one, a happy accident.

More than dotting, less than dashing, hyphens

are everywhere but are misunderstood.

When I spell my name out — “Y-O-O-N

hyphen Hendricks” — it’s always cut short by

“What’s a hyphen” and I sigh and say, “Oh,

a dash,” but it is certainly not that.

They make such multi-dimensional words

like “hard-hitting” or “21-year-old.”

Need a minus? Hyphen. Long word jumping

to a new line? Hyphen. Just need a break?


Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ayoonhendricks.