What Are Compound Nouns? (with Examples)

What Are Compound Nouns? (with Examples)

A compound noun is one comprising at least two words. (Sometimes, they are hyphenated.)

Examples of Compound Nouns

Here are some examples of compound nouns:

  • Mother-in-law
  • Board of Members
  • Court-martial
  • Forget-me-not
  • Manservant
  • Cooking-oil
  • Hyphens in Compound Nouns

    There are three forms for compound nouns:
    • With Spaces: swimming pool, grey matter, fish tank
    • Without Spaces: shotgun, housework, eyelid
    • With Hyphens: baby-sitter, laughing-gas, daughter-in-law
    There are no definitive rules on which form to use. You have to use your spellchecker or a dictionary. Be aware that many of the words exist in several forms.

    Read more about hyphens in compound nouns.

    Composition of Compound Nouns

    Most compound nouns are made up of two nouns or an adjective and a noun. For example:
    • Noun + Noun: Bath tub, witchcraft, seaman, wall-paper
    • Adjective + Noun: Hardware, highway, full moon, whiteboard
    However, there are other combinations:

    Part of Speech+Part of Speech=Compound Noun
    Sauce (noun)+Pan (noun)=Saucepan
    Soft (adjective)+Ware (noun)=Software
    Break (verb)
    Washing (verbal)
    +Fast (noun)
    Machine (noun)
    =Breakfast
    Washing machine
    Sun (noun)+Rise (verb)=Sunrise
    In (preposition)+Flux (noun)=Influx
    Out (preposition)+Put (Verb)=Output
    Check (verb)+Out (preposition)=Checkout

    See Also

    Take a test on compound nouns Hyphens in compound nouns Forming the plurals of compound nouns What are nouns? The different types of nouns What are pronouns? The different types of pronouns Abstract nouns Collective nouns Concrete nouns Non-countable nouns (mass nouns) Gender-specific nouns Verbal nouns Gerunds Noun clauses Noun phrases