back seat vs. backseat

Subject: back seat vs. backseat
From: Katie Henry x3432 <khenry -at- AUSTIN -dot- ASC -dot- SLB -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 1995 14:53:38 CST

Karen asks:
>My question is what about cars? I think of the rear seat of my car as
>the 'back seat' of the car, but I've seen 'backseat' in novels, and
>finally looked it up! And that's right! And I hate it!

About five years ago I noticed that "
"back seat" became "backseat," and "back yard" became "backyard."
And I don't mean as compound adjectives (backyard bar-b-que), but
as regular nouns (I mowed the backyard). My questions are:

(1) Who decides these things? I have seen this usage in every
newspaper, magazine, and book published in the past five or so
years. It was as if a switch was thrown and everyone made this
change overnight. Is there some style guide used by big national

(2) Are there any other examples of an adjective (back) and a
noun (seat, yard) being combined to form a single word?

(3) Doesn't it bother these mysterious decision-makers that such
a rule will lead to bizarre inconsistency? (I climbed from the
front seat to the backseat.) I've seen the different front/back
forms used in the same sentence, in carefully edited publications,
and it *rankles.* Guess I'll have to go ask the copy-editing group.

khenry -at- austin -dot- wireline -dot- slb -dot- com

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