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From: "Guy McDonald" :
> Perhaps you folks can help me with a long wondered about word?
> Is it "anal retentive"
What do we mean when we say "is it" this or that?
Do we mean "which is correct"?
"Rententive" is not in any of my dictionaries, so
it isn't likely to be what "it" is -- whatever that
If "rententive" is a typo for "retentive", and your
question has to do with the hyphen, then the answer is
"follow the hyphenation rules prescribed by your
publication style guide".
Generally, hyphens connect the words of a compound
modifier that comes before the word being modified --
but there are some exceptions.
On the other hand, if you think that "long wondered
about word" doesn't require any hyphens (is it a long word
that is wondered about, or a word -- long or short --
that has been wondered about for a long time?), then
why would you bother about putting one in "anal retentive"?
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