"Multi-hyphenate spaces"

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Alex Bauman sent in this real-estate ad from Singapore:

For the fully hyper-hyphenated experience, click here

I've managed somehow to live many decades in this world without ever registering the existence of the word multi-hyphenate.

In fairness to me, it hasn't had its OED Word Induction Ceremony yet. And Merriam-Websters is similarly uninformed. But Wiktionary has it, though as the oddly unhyphenated form multihyphenate, glossed as "A person with a hyphenated profession e.g. singer-songwriter, actor-director, but especially a person with several such roles". And there are plenty of examples Out There on the internet, and in mass media over the decades, for example this from the LA Times in 1969:

In fact, there are examples from more than a century ago, for example this from the Weekly British Whig, Kingston Ontario, May 18 1916:


  1. Ethan said,

    August 9, 2023 @ 9:36 pm

    Judging from the "multi-hyphenate spaces" video on the linked site, "multi-hyphenate" in this case means that everything in the living unit has multiple purposes. From the flip-down table and flip-down ironing board to the walk-in closet, the pull-out counters, the movable walk-in wardrobe, and the coffee-cum-dining table. Only that last one has multiple hyphens, however.

  2. AntC said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 1:42 am

    Thanks @Ethan, without your additional purple-prosed report, I would never have known of movable walk-in wardrobes _with_ flip-down study table, to boot.

    Also when did YTD = Yesterday; TDY = Today become a thing?

    "Present-day Maxwell Chambers is the world’s first integrated dispute resolution complex with best-in-class facilities."

    Integrated dispute resolution needs a complex? Of course something about it has to be hyphenated.

    myl has barely scratched the surface of linguistic ingenuity here.

    Also worth mentioning is the ivy-covered skyscraper in the background with the feng-shui-spirit-dragon hole through. Presumably modelled on the one in Repulse Bay Hong-Kong.

  3. AntC said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 1:43 am

    (I rather thought YTD = Year-to-Date.)

  4. AlexB said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 2:11 am

    "Also worth mentioning is the ivy-covered skyscraper in the background with the feng-shui-spirit-dragon hole through. Presumably modelled on the one in Repulse Bay Hong-Kong."

    That would be the Oasia Downtown Hotel. It is not really a hole, more of an atrium/internal balcony. Although I am completely ignorant about the preferences and capabilities of feng shui dragons, so I don't know how that would affect them.

  5. GH said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 2:19 am

    I was curious what the Weekly British Whig meant by saying that President Wilson "preaches about hyphens" (from context it's clear that it must refer to Irish-Americans, German-Americans, etc., but what was the substance of his preaching?), and found a good explanation in this article (www.revolutionaryirishamerica.com/friend-or-foe-woodrow-wilson-the-irish-question):

    at the Democratic convention of 1916, this newly revived sense of ‘Americanism’ provided a platform from which Wilson could diffuse the power and influence of, what he termed, the ‘hyphenate’ groups in American society. As such, he condemned any alliance between an individual or group and foreign powers that were deemed detrimental to American welfare and safety. […] In the opening speech of his election campaign in September 1916, having stressed the importance of neutrality, he narrowed in on the loyalties of American citizens of all ethnicities declaring: “I am the candidate of a party, but I am above all things an American citizen. I neither seek the favour nor fear the displeasure of that small alien element amongst us which puts loyalty to any foreign power before loyalty to the U.S.”

    (Emphasis added)

  6. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 6:38 am

    I am a little baffled by what exact "multi-hyphenate" descriptor these angry Irish-Americans thought should have been affixed to Woodrow Wilson. The pejorative reference to him as a "half-Englishman" presumably is based on his mother's birth in the north of England, but close to the border and to parents who were both Scottish by birth and ancestry. She moved to Ohio with her parents when she was less than ten years old, and I have no idea (which doesn't mean it may not be out there in the literature) whether she actually self-identified as of English rather than Scottish origin,* although of course her son's self-identification could in principle have deviated from hers by weighting the same facts differently. Wilson's father was born in Ohio to parents who had emigrated from Ireland-in-the-geographical-sense, but who were Ulster Protestants unlikely to be simpatico with the Rochester Friends of Irish Liberty. Of course, such folks were traditionally called "Scotch-Irish" in the American context, so there's another hyphen for you right there.

    Or the whole thing may have been a bitter joke about the fact that Americans who could based on their ancestry have been called "English-American" or "British*-American" were, in those days, not so called, because they were merely, as a matter of ethnicity, "American." Normal-American or Unmarked-American or Default-American, one might say.

    *It being implicitly understood that Irish Protestants were "British" in a way that Irish Catholics perhaps were not.

  7. Ross Presser said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 9:22 am

    > Normal-American or Unmarked-American or Default-American, one might say.

    My snark organ says it should be "Unhyphenated-American" for maximum irony (or confusion).

  8. GH said,

    August 10, 2023 @ 3:53 pm

    The article I linked mentions that Wilson had emphasized his Scots and Irish heritage in order to appeal to the Irish-American vote in the 1912 election, so I wonder if the "multi-hyphenate" is a reference to his mixed heritage, or perhaps a jab at him for adopting and discarding ethnic identity for the sake of political expedience.

  9. Michael Vnuk said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 1:46 am

    Speaking of hyphens, I wonder why 'Roosevelt' was hyphenated in the heading, given that there was room in the line.

  10. Taylor, Philip said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 4:20 am

    There wasn't quite room in the line, Michael — the final period would have ended up in the margin. See https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/9qonam4x5hl5icvn6ce62/WeeklyBritishWhig05181916.jpg?rlkey=mv0yi6rd5mhifnjctq52qdd5e&dl=0

  11. Taylor, Philip said,

    August 11, 2023 @ 5:05 am

    P.S. Tested in two different browers, attempting to follow the Dropbox hyperlink in my immediately preceding message fails to complete. Those wishing to see the re-typeset page from the British Whig should copy the hyperlink and then paste it into the location bar of a new tab.

  12. Andy Stow said,

    August 15, 2023 @ 9:52 am

    Interesting. I took the ad to be a copy editing mistake. Someone wrote MULTI SPACES AT MAXWELL, and someone else sent it back with a note requesting a hyphen between MULTI and SPACES, which got interpreted a little too literally.

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