Hyphenation of a word: vice-president? (Take II)

Subject: Hyphenation of a word: vice-president? (Take II)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 08:29:44 -0500

Eric The (well) Read wonders: <<Check your dictionary's policy.>>

Been there, done that (Webster's New Collegiate 1974). It didn't even list
the unhyphenated form as a variant. Usage may certainly have changed, but I
still find this particular dictionary an invaluable resource.

<<Vice meaning 'moral depravity' dates back to the 14th century; meaning 'to
stand in for' dates to 1770 or thereabouts. Either meaning is old enough, I
think, not to need the hyphen. Furthermore, outside of the specific
compound "Vice Squad", I haven't it used in common speech in quite some

All very well, but the term's still in common use for those of us of less
firm moral character <gdrlh>, albeit often attenuated ("one of my vices is
browsing dictionaries").

<<a quick, scientifically useless take at the first 30 results from Google
searching on "vice-president" shows that only two of the results contained a
hyphen anywhere in them.>>

As a footnote to future researchers, relying on the Web for spelling advice
is like relying on the National Enquirer for science reporting. The Web has
proven that not only would a million monkeys with typewriters _not_ type
Hamlet by serendipitous chance, but neither have any of those monkeys ever
heard of spell checkers.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words;
on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them
unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."-- James D. Nicoll


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