Compound Noun - Explore What is, Definition, Types and Examples

When a noun or another part of speech combines with another noun or any other part of speech to form a noun, it is called a compound noun. This article will provide you with an introduction to compound nouns, types and examples of compound nouns.

What is a Compound Noun?

A compound noun is a noun that is formed by a combination of more than one part of speech. Compound nouns are of three main types: Open or spaced compound nouns, hyphenated compound nouns and closed or solid compound nouns.

Definition of a Compound Noun

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a compound noun is defined as ‘a noun that is made up of two or more different words, for example, “cake shop”, “French fries”, “high-flyer”, or “schoolteacher”.’ The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary provides a similar definition. It defines a compound noun as ‘a noun, an adjective or a verb made of two or more words or parts of words, written as one or more words, or joined by a hyphen. Travel agent, dark-haired and bathroom are all compound nouns.’

Types of Compound Nouns with Examples

As mentioned above, there are three main types of compound nouns.

Spaced or Open Compound Noun

A spaced or open compound noun is one in which there is a space between the two words which form the compound noun.

For example:

  • Cricket bat
  • Fast food
  • Flower shop

Hyphenated Compound Nouns

A hyphenated compound noun is one in which the two words are separated with the use of a hyphen.

For example:

  • By-product
  • Mother-in-law
  • Passer-by

Closed or Solid Compound Nouns

A closed or solid compound noun is one in which the two words do not have any spaces or hyphens separating them. They are usually considered as a single word.

For example:

  • Sunflower
  • Classroom
  • Rainfall

Forming Compound Nouns

You can form compound nouns by combining different parts of speech. All compound nouns, though belonging to different parts of speech, perform the same function as a noun. Let us see how different compound nouns are formed.

Noun + Noun

Check out the following examples of compound nouns formed using two separate nouns.

Compound Noun

Noun

Noun

Bus stop

Bus

Stop

Firefly

Fire

Fly

Basketball

Basket

Ball

Railway Station

Railway

Station

Football

Foot

Ball

Railway Junction

Railway

Junction

Airport

Air

Port

Headmistress

Head

Mistress

Ship deck

Ship

Deck

Sweatshirt

Sweat

Shirt

Noun + Verb

Have a look at the following compound nouns formed using a noun and a verb.

Compound Noun

Noun

Verb

Haircut

Hair

Cut

Sunrise

Sun

Rise

Sunset

Sun

Set

Rainfall

Rain

Fall

Snowfall

Snow

Fall

Footprint

Foot

Print

Roleplay

Role

Play

Healthcare

Health

Care

Gunfight

Gun

Fight

Noun + Gerund

Take a look at the following compound nouns formed using a combination of a noun and a gerund (verb+ing).

Compound Noun

Noun

Gerund

Sightseeing

Sight

Seeing

Birdwatching

Bird

Watching

Handwriting

Hand

Writing

Mountain climbing

Mountain

Climbing

River rafting

River

Rafting

Copy-editing

Copy

Editing

Ballet dancing

Ballet

Dancing

Bookkeeping

Book

Keeping

Cat walking

Cat

Walking

Time consuming

Time

Consuming

Gerund + Noun

Check out the following examples of compound nouns by combining a gerund and a noun.

Compound Noun

Gerund

Noun

Washing machine

Washing

Machine

Dressing table

Dressing

Table

Magnifying lens

Magnifying

Lens

Visiting card

Visiting

Card

Fishing net

Fishing

Net

Driving licence

Driving

Licence

Sewing machine

Sewing

Machine

Cooking gas

Cooking

Gas

Waiting room

Waiting

Room

Helping hand

Helping

Hand

Noun + Preposition + Noun/Noun + Prepositional Phrase

Given below are compound nouns formed by combining a noun and a preposition phrase.

Compound Noun

Noun

Prepositional Phrase

Mother-in-law

Mother

In-law

Father-in-law

Father

In-law

Sister-in-law

Sister

In-law

Brother-in-law

Brother

In-law

Son-in-law

Son

In-law

Daughter-in-law

Daughter

In-law

Lady-in-waiting

Lady

In-waiting

Jack-of-all-trades

Jack

Of-all-trades

Preposition + Verb

Have a look at the compound nouns given below formed by combining a preposition and a verb.

Compound Noun

Preposition

Verb

Output

Out

Put

Input

In

Put

Outlet

Out

Let

Understand

Under

Stand

Overthrow

Over

Throw

Undercut

Under

Cut

Underpass

Under

Pass

Intake

In

Take

Uproar

Up

Roar

Outburst

Out

Burst

Verb + Preposition

Given below are examples of compound nouns formed by a combination of a verb and a preposition.

Compound Noun

Verb

Preposition

Check-in

Check

In

Check-out

Check

Out

Check-up

Check

Up

Lookout

Look

Out

Breakdown

Break

Down

Shutdown

Shut

Down

Makeup

Make

Up

Take-out

Take

Out

Buildup

Build

Up

Sign-off

Sign

Off

Preposition + Noun

Here are a few examples of compound nouns formed by the combination of a preposition and a noun.

Compound Noun

Preposition

Noun

Underground

Under

Ground

Afterlife

After

Life

Underworld

Under

World

Background

Back

Ground

Offshore

Off

Shore

Outpatient

Out

Patient

Upstairs

Up

Stairs

Offspring

Off

Spring

Overnight

Over

Night

Underline

Under

Line

Adjective + Noun

Check out the following compound nouns formed by combining an adjective and a noun.

Compound Noun

Adjective

Noun

Blackboard

Black

Board

Greenroom

Green

Room

Granddaughter

Grand

Daughter

Hardware

Hard

Ware

Hot dog

Hot

Dog

Smartphone

Smart

Phone

Bluebird

Blue

Bird

Small talk

Small

Talk

Blueberry

Blue

Berry

Hotspot

Hot

Spot

Adjective + Verb

Have a look at the following compound nouns formed by combining an adjective and a verb.

Compound Noun

Adjective

Verb

Drycleaning

Dry

Cleaning

Underfed

Under

Fed

Long awaited

Long

Awaited

Public speaking

Public

Speaking

Long lasting

Long

Lasting

Everlasting

Ever

Lasting

Highlight

High

Light

Repetitive Words / Rhyming Words

Take a look at the following compound nouns formed by a combination of two rhyming words or repetitive words.

Compound Noun

Word 1

Word 2

Hocus-pocus

Hocus

Pocus

Dillydally

Dilly

Dally

Boo-boo

Boo

Boo

Walkie-talkie

Walkie

Talkie

No-no

No

No

Argle-bargle

Argle

Bargle

Chit-chat

Chit

Chat

Artsy-fartsy

Artsy

Fartsy

Fiddle-faddle

Fiddle

Faddle

Goo-goo

Goo

Goo

Mumbo-jumbo

Mumbo

Jumbo

Pitter-patter

Pitter

Patter

Places, Nationalities and Titles

Here are some compound nouns that refer to places, nationalities and titles.

Compound Noun

Word 1

Word 2

Prime Minister

Prime

Minister

Chief Minister

Chief

Minister

Vice President

Vice

President

Joint Secretary

Joint

Secretary

Assistant Director

Assistant

Director

General Manager

General

Manager

Personal Assistant

Personal

Assistant

Circle Inspector

Circle

Inspector

Great grandmother

Great

Grandmother

Salesperson

Sales

Person

Latin American

Latin

American

South Korea

South

Korea

Native American

Native

American

Middle East

Middle

East

Anglo-Saxon

Anglo

Saxon

Anglo-Indian

Anglo

Indian

Check Your Knowledge of Compound Nouns

Identify the compound nouns in the following sentences:

  1. He is such a showoff.
  2. What do you know about Native Americans?
  3. The teacher wrote down all the sentences on the blackboard.
  4. The Prime Minister will be meeting the US President tomorrow.
  5. That is the silver lining I was talking to you about.
  6. The security guard got into trouble as he misplaced the walkie-talkie.
  7. My uncle had a heart attack.
  8. Sunsets are always a pleasant sight.
  9. My father asked my brother to get a haircut before the wedding.
  10. I heard that Sandra has a swimming pool inside her house.

Now, let us find out if you got it right.

  1. He is such a showoff.
  2. What do you know about Native Americans?
  3. The teacher wrote down all the sentences on the blackboard.
  4. The Prime Minister will be meeting the US President tomorrow.
  5. That is the silver lining I was talking to you about.
  6. The security guard got into trouble as he misplaced the walkie-talkie.
  7. My uncle had a heart attack.
  8. Sunsets are always a pleasant sight.
  9. My father asked my brother to get a haircut before the wedding.
  10. I heard that Sandra has a swimming pool inside her house.

Frequently Asked Questions on Compound Nouns

What is a compound noun?

A compound noun is a noun that is formed by a combination of more than one part of speech. The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary provides a similar definition. It defines a compound noun as ‘a noun, an adjective or a verb made of two or more words or parts of words, written as one or more words, or joined by a hyphen. Travel agent, dark-haired and bathroom are all compound nouns.’

What are the types of compound nouns?

Compound nouns are of three main types: Open or spaced compound nouns, hyphenated compound nouns and closed or solid compound nouns.

Give some examples of compound nouns.

Headmaster, Smartboard, Colour pencil, Bedroom, Offshore, Railway station, Circus clown, Ringmaster, Managing Director, Grandfather are some examples of compound nouns.

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