When two more nouns are joined together to form a single noun, it is a compound noun. Read on to know more about compound nouns and its list of examples.

Examples Of Compound Nouns

Most of us are familiar with ‘noun’, the part of speech defined as the name of a person, place, concept, idea or object. Nouns are classified into proper nouns, common nouns, collective nouns, abstract nouns and countable and uncountable nouns. When two nouns are joined together to form a single noun, we call it a compound noun. Most of the compound nouns in English language are noun phrases or nominal phrases which are modified using another noun or an adjective, or are written as a single unit. For e.g., the compound noun ‘gumball’ is formed by modifying the noun ‘ball’ with another modifying noun, ‘gum’. Here, the word, ‘ball’ is the head noun which refers to the main object while ‘gum’ modifies the head noun and is called the qualifying noun or attributing noun. Though, in most of the compound nouns, the meaning of the combination of two words is taken as its meaning, there are exceptions as in the word, ‘understand’ which has nothing to do with either ‘under’ or ‘stand’. Read further to know more about compound nouns and their examples. 
Compound Nouns List

Types Of Compound Nouns

Here are different types of compound nouns.

  • Preposition + adjective: over-ripe
  • preposition (adverb) + noun: underground, underworld, bystander, onlooker, underworld
  • preposition + preposition: without
  • preposition (adverb) + verb: output, undercut, outlook, overthrow
  • noun + adjective: snowwhite
  • noun + noun: toothpaste, football, fish tank
  • noun + preposition (adverb): love-in, hanger on, passer-by, mother-in-law
  • verb + adjective: tumbledown
  • verb + noun: swimming pool, breakwater, washing machine, breakfast
  • verb + preposition (adverb): takeout, check-in, drawback, lookout, check-out
  • verb + verb: freeze-dry, Bus stop        
  • adjective + noun: blackboard, full moon
  • adjective + preposition – forthwith
  • adjective + adjective: blue-green
  • adjective + verb: dry-cleaning, highlight 
Forms Of Compound Nouns
Open Form – In this form of compound nouns, a space is left between the two nouns that are combines. For e.g.,
  • The new post office is near our house.
  • His father is a retired attorney general.
  • The proper nouns must be written in capital letters.
  • My brother-in-law has been working in a company in Middle East for the last fifteen years.
  • Other examples of open compound nouns include: bath tub, beauty salon, birth name, bottom line, broad gauge, curriculum vitae, elementary school, intelligence quotient, living room, middle class, distance learning, paper clip, petrol gauge, police officer, real estate, rest room, scotch whisky, seat belt, tea cup, under cut, under way, wedding day, family name, first cousin, fish tank, full moon, grey matter, half sister, high school, soap opera, fire engine, home run, dining room, heart attack, trash bag, white wash, ironing board, lima beans, bucket seat, book club, mineral water, office assistant, office stationery, etc. 
Hyphenated – Here, the compound nouns are connected using a hyphen. The affixes, verb-verb compounds, adjective-adjective compounds and those compounds which contain articles, conjunctions or prepositions are often hyphenated as in,
  • My great-grandfather participated was a freedom fighter.
  • Her mother-in-law is staying with her to look after the kid.
  • Roshan was promoted as the editor-in-chief of the magazine.
  • Geeta’s brother-in-law is the new police commissioner of the city.
  • That two-year-old must be her brother. 
  • Other examples of hyphenated compound nouns are as: second-hand, air-chamber, air-cushion-vehicle, baby-sitter, blue-green, born-again, fly-leaf, fly-wheel, freeze-dry, hyper-acidity, hypo-thyroid, commander-in-chief, jack-in-the-box, maid-of-honour, rock-and-roll, fund-raiser, master-at-arms, multi-storeyed, over-ripe, over-the-counter, six-pack, single-mindedness, etc.
Closed Form – In closed form, two related nouns are combined together to form a single word, as in the following examples.
  • Meeting him was a major breakthrough in my career.
  • I replaced the old dishwasher with the new one.
  • I have kept a separate notebook to note down the expenses.
  • Priya’s grandmother’s 70th birthday was a big event in the town.
  • Our new neighbour is very hyperactive.
  • Other examples of closed compound nouns are: birdwatcher, stepmother, spotlight, campfire, takeoff, lampshade, railroad, milestone, barmaid, bathroom, toothbrush, armchair, playground, chairperson, childlike, eyebrow, fingerprint, breakdown, buttermilk, butterscotch, fisherman, flashlight, football, footbrake, footprint, grasshopper, handbag, handbill, handkerchief, hardware, highway, airtight, hypothermia, keyboard, lifelong, makeup, milkmaid, newspaper, output, overhead, redhead, salesman, sandbag, sandpaper, sandstone, saucepan, seafood, seaman, seaweed, supermarket, underhand, witchcraft, airport, watermelon, outlook, teapot, ponytail, bedroom, blackboard, wallpaper, butterfly, underdog, etc.
However, do remember that there are some words which are used in two different forms with a change in meaning as in the case of ‘afternoon’ and ‘after noon’. There are also words which are used in two different forms with no change in meaning as ‘ballgame’ and ‘ball game’.
Stress In Compound Nouns
Most of the compound nouns give more stress on the first word as in the example, ‘golf ball’ and ‘green house’. Stress in compound nouns even changes the meaning of the word as in the example, ‘green house’, which means ‘a house which is painted in green colour’. In another instance, the word ‘greenhouse’, means ‘a glass building which is used to grow plants. However, the usage of words varies with the difference in the type of English or writers as in the following examples,
  • Container ship
  • Container-ship
  • Containership
Forming Plurals
The plural of a one-word compound noun is formed by making the end of the new word plural as in,
  • Eyebrow – Eyebrows
  • Sandwich – Sandwiches
The plural of the open or hyphenated compound noun is formed by making the main word in the compound noun plural, as in,
  • Mother-in-law -   Mothers-in-law
  • Assistant secretary of state - Assistant secretaries of state
  • Toothbrush - Toothbrushes
  • Tennis shoe - Tennis shoes
  • Assistant headmaster - Assistant headmasters
  • Woman doctor – Women doctors
  • Doctor of philosophy - Doctors of philosophy
  • Passerby – Passersby
  • Deputy librarian – Deputy librarians
  • Sergeant at arms – Sergeants at arms
There are plenty of compound nouns in English language. Be familiarised with these compound nouns and get a step closer to understanding English language.      

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