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Course: Grammar   >   Unit 1

  • Common and proper nouns

Concrete and abstract nouns

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Noun Types: Abstract, Concrete, Collective and Compound

3-minute read

  • 5th August 2016

Most of us know that nouns are naming words. The noun ‘dog’, for instance, is the name we use for the species of four-legged, domestic mammals that occasionally drink out of toilets .

abstract compound words

Nouns are thus fundamental to language, and knowing how different types of noun work, as well as the differences between them, can help us to express ourselves clearly .

In today’s blog post, we look at four distinct noun types: abstract, concrete, collective and compound nouns.

Abstract and Concrete Nouns

We’ll look at abstract nouns and concrete nouns together, since they name opposite types of thing. The simplest nouns are probably concrete nouns , which name tangible things .

This means that concrete nouns name things that we can sense, such as by seeing or touching them. ‘Dog’ is a concrete noun, for example, since a dog is something we can see, hear, touch and smell (best to avoid tasting them, for the most part).

Other concrete nouns include:

  • People (e.g. ‘dancer’, ‘brother’, ‘Taylor Swift’)
  • Places (e.g. ‘Jupiter’, ‘Mongolia’, ‘beach’)
  • Objects (e.g. ‘phone’, ‘apple’, ‘tears’)

abstract compound words

Abstract nouns , meanwhile, are nouns which name concepts or other intangible things (i.e. things that we cannot touch, taste, see, hear or smell), like ‘disapproval’, ‘Thursday’ or ‘happiness’ .

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are actually a subcategory of concrete nouns, specifically naming groups or collections of things. For instance, the word ‘team’ is a collective noun for a group of people working towards a common goal (usually in competitive sports).

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One factor to consider here is verb agreement . Generally, British English allows you to use either singular or plural verbs after a collective noun, so either of the following would be correct:

Singular: The team is close to winning the cup!

Plural: The team are close to winning the cup!

However, some style guides recommend only using the singular after a collective noun, especially those which favour American English conventions.

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are made up of two or more words but name one thing. For instance, the words ‘paper’ and ‘clip’ together name a small metal object used to hold together sheets of paper.

We could have chosen a more interesting example.

Compound nouns can be open (i.e. two words with a space in between), hyphenated (i.e. two words connected by a hyphen) or closed (i.e. two words combined into one):

  • Open compound nouns (e.g. ‘coffee shop’, ‘police station’, ‘dog handler’)
  • Hyphenated compound nouns (e.g. ‘ice-axe’, ‘father-in-law’, ‘dry-cleaning’)
  • Closed compound nouns (e.g. ‘hairdresser’, ‘daydream’, ‘football’)

It’s not always easy to know whether a compound noun should be open, closed or hyphenated, since there are no universal rules here.

As such, the important things are to check your style guide, to use a consistent approach throughout your document and to make sure your meaning is clear.

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What are compound nouns definition, examples, & more.

  • By Matthew Jones

abstract compound words

Compound nouns and words are essential parts of any English speaker’s toolbox. The sentence you just read even contains an example of one (hint: the last word). However, we often take compound nouns for granted because they are so commonplace (I did it again!). So, what are compound nouns and why do we need them? Moreover, if they’re so common, what are some examples of compound nouns? Finally, are these terms meant to be used as a single word, separate words, or two words connected by a hyphen?

We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s provide a proper definition of the term:

Compound Noun Definition

A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two words that, if separated, could stand on their own. When two distinct words are combined to form a noun, they take on a new meaning that may or may not be related to either of the original words. For example, “ice cream” is a compound noun. Both words — ice (frozen water) and cream (a dairy product made from skimming fat from the top of milk) — have their own distinct definitions, but when combined, they turn into a delicious, frozen treat! As a result, compound nouns are an essential part of the English language.

It’s also important to note that compound words are not specific to nouns. There are also compound verbs — like “ask for” and “kickstart” — as well as compound adjectives like “good-looking” and “old-fashioned.” There are even compound adverbs, like “therefore” and “very well.” 

However, you can’t just put any combination of words together to form a compound word. There’s no such thing as a “class flush” or “lobster banana.” That said, there are literally thousands of examples of compound words throughout the English language!

Compound Nouns List

It would be impossible to list all of the compound nouns that exist in this article. However, we can list some common and useful examples to help you expand your vocabulary! So, here are some examples of compound nouns organized by category:

Common Nouns

As you can imagine, common compound nouns are frequently used to refer to different people, places, and things. When referring to human beings, these terms often categorize a person or people by occupation, family member status, or more general groups. Here are a few examples:

  • Businessperson
  • Flight attendant
  • Firefighter
  • Brother-in-law

Proper Nouns

Classifying proper nouns as compound nouns is a little tricky, as each word or word-part may not have a definition of its own. For example, “Ben Affleck” is a compound noun, as it combines a first name (Ben) with a last name (Affleck) to form a full name that many people will recognize as the famous actor. However, names usually don’t have inherent meanings, other than just being names. In any case, combining two names for people, places, or things results in a compound proper noun.

  • William Shakespeare
  • Barack Obama
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Florida Keys
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Atlantic City
  • United States
  • New Zealand
  • Berlin Wall
  • Burger King
  • Roman Catholic

Abstract Nouns

Finally, there are hundreds of abstract compound nouns in English. These are compound words that you cannot observe with your five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, or sound). Here are a few examples:

  • Self-confidence
  • Common sense

One word, two words, or hyphenated — which is correct?

Thus far, you’ve probably noticed that compound nouns come in three different forms. Sometimes compounds are two words combined to make one noun (closed compounds). Other times they are two words that remain separated by a space but still work together to create a noun (open compounds). Finally, you can have two words connected by a hyphen to form a new term (hyphenated compounds). So, which is the correct way of writing a compound noun?

The truth is that they are all correct — depending on the words and the context. Let’s look at a few principles that should help you know when to hyphenate compound nouns, when to use two words separated by a space, and when to use just one word:

  • Most compound proper nouns are formed by two words separated by a space, though there are exceptions (Sunday, Thanksgiving, etc).
  • If a compound begins with “self,” you almost always use a hyphen (self-reliance, self-defeat, etc).
  • Using a hyphen between an adjective and a noun can change the term from a compound noun to a compound adjective.

General Rules for Compound Nouns

To help you further, let’s look at the general rules for different parts of speech combinations:

As you can see from the table above, many of the most common compounds can be opened or closed. This means you’ll simply have to memorize the correct form for each word. However, when prepositions or verbs are involved, things get a little easier. For example, when an -ing verb precedes a noun, the resulting compound word is almost always open. When a preposition follows a verb or a verb follows an adjective, you almost always create hyphenated compound nouns. Finally, if a verb follows a preposition, the resulting compound will usually be closed.

It’s also important to remember that many common compound nouns can be either open or closed. Even with combinations that are almost always closed, open, or hyphenated (as indicated in the table above), you’re bound to find a few exceptions. Since the rules are not always clear, many people choose which form they wish to use and just stick with it. For example, some people write “seat belt” (open compound), while others write “seatbelt” (closed compound). Though most dictionaries use the open compound, the closed version is widely accepted. This holds true for many other compounds as well.

Examples of Compound Nouns in Sentences

Now that you know some different compound nouns, it’s time to learn how to use them! Here are a few examples using all of the different parts of speech combinations:

Noun + Noun

  • I asked the waiter to put some ice cubes in my drink.
  • Everybody has to wear their seat belt in my car. 
  • The neighborhood gets bigger and bigger every year.

Adjective + Noun

  • He says that real estate is a stable investment.
  • You should take the highway ; it’s much faster.
  • I want my hot dog with extra mustard.

Preposition + Noun

  • My son needed braces to correct his underbite .
  • I’m starting to make inroads with my boss.
  • His indetermination held the entire team back.

Verb + Noun

  • The family gathered in the living room to watch television.
  • The models started walking down the runway to thunderous applause.
  • We believe the president has the staying power to make it through the next election.

Noun + Verb

  • The rainfall was heavy that day.
  • I needed to use eardrops to cure my dog’s ear infection.
  • The acrobat did ten backflips in a row!

Verb + Preposition

  • The sit-in helped draw attention to the issue of civil rights.
  • I got good news from the follow-up with my doctor.
  • The gang members did a drive-by before leaving the scene of the crime.

Adjective + Verb

  • Her well-wishes didn’t feel genuine.
  • He was supposed to pick up his dry-cleaning yesterday, but he forgot.
  • His well-being was my top priority.

Preposition + Verb

  • They provided an overview of the new plan.
  • Buying a house is a huge undertaking .
  • The generator’s output was too low to keep the power on.

Compound nouns are just two words that work to form a new word or phrase. At first glance, they are pretty easy to understand. However, they can get complicated when you’re writing them down, as you’ll have to figure out whether to use open, closed, or hyphenated compounds. Fortunately, the rules are relatively lax (especially in informal writing), so don’t be afraid to make a mistake! Over time, you’ll learn the correct ways to write hundreds of different compound nouns in English!

We hope you found this guide useful! If you’d like to hear a native English speaker using compound nouns in everyday conversations, be sure to subscribe to the Magoosh Youtube channel or join our Facebook Group today!

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Compound Nouns — Definition, Rules, and Examples

Daniel Bal

What is a compound noun?

A compound noun consists of two or more words that combine to form a new noun. The separate words do not need to be nouns themselves, but the compound word becomes a noun.

Once linked, they become either common nouns , proper nouns , or abstract nouns :

Common compound nouns: bedroom; policeman; airport

Proper compound nouns: North America; Pop-Tarts; White House

Abstract compound nouns: lovesick; self-control; software

Proper compound nouns

Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions can combine to form compound nouns.

Types of compound nouns

There are three main types of compound nouns in English: open, hyphenated, and closed.

Types of compound nouns

Open: Also known as spaced nouns, open compound nouns consist of two separate words that create a new idea when placed together. The first word often modifies the second word.

Hot dog; living room; full moon

Hyphenated: Hyphenated compound nouns form when two words join using a hyphen.

Long-term; mother-in-law; check-in

Closed : Also known as solid nouns, closed forms of compound nouns consist of two single words that join to form one new word.

Grandfather; baseball; grasshopper

Closed compound nouns

Rules for compound nouns

Compound nouns are structured in one of the following ways:

Compound noun examples

The following sentences include examples of compound nouns:

Noun + Noun

Jim and his dad enjoy watching football every Sunday.

Stephanie needs a ride to the airport in the morning.

Larry realized he had left the toothpaste in his bedroom .

Verb + Noun

Jan could not think of anything better than the first rainfall of spring.

Luckily, there was no community backlash when the park closed.

Nick finished eating his breakfast then left for work.

Adjective + Noun

Heather and Mark built a greenhouse at their new home.

The teacher invited Victoria up to the whiteboard.

Tom enjoyed eating fresh blackberries .

Adjective + Verb

Leslie remembered to pick up her dry cleaning .

Adam's shyness made him fearful of public speaking .

Preposition + Noun

There was an influx of new hotel guests over the weekend.

It was difficult to carry the dresser upstairs .

The bystanders enjoyed watching the street magician.

Preposition + Verb

The new boss appreciated Will's valuable input .

There was an uptick in sales during the holiday season.

The astronauts prepared for take-off .


A Comprehensive Guide to Forming Compounds


The Compound

A compound is a word or word group that consists of two or more parts that work together as a unit to express a specific concept. Examples are double-check , cost-effective , around-the-clock , hand-to-hand , forward-thinking , eyeliner , and iced tea . They might also be formed from prefixes or suffixes , as in ex-president , supermicro , presorted , shirtless , or unforgivable .

Basically, compounds are written in one of three ways: solid ( teapot ), hyphenated ( player-manager ), or open (which ranges from phrases such as off and on or little by little to combinations like washing machine —have a field day finding more). Because of the variety in formation, the choice among the styles for a given compound represents one of the most vexing of all style issues writers—and lexicographers—encounter.

For some terms, it is often acceptable to choose freely among open, hyphenated, and solid alternatives, even though the term has been used in English for an extended period (for instance, lifestyle , life–style , or life style ). Although the styling that ultimately takes hold for a compound may be determined by nothing more than editorial and writerly preference, there are patterns of new compounds as they become established in the English language. Compound nouns, for instance, are usually written as one word; compound verbs are generally written as two; compound adjectives are often written with a hyphen. But note that we added "usually," "generally," and "often"—we're hedging. (Be advised that we'll be using noncommittal terms throughout, and, essentially, that's the point of the following articles: there aren't fast rules to forming compounds, but there are patterns.)


The Unit Modifier

Compound adjectives are combinations of words that work together to modify a noun—technically, they work as unit modifiers . As unit modifiers, they are distinguished from other strings of adjectives that may also precede a noun. For instance, in the constructions "a low, level tract of land" or "that long, lonesome highway," the two adjectives each modify the noun separately. We are talking about a tract of land that is both low and level and about a highway that is both long and lonesome. These are regarded as coordinate modifiers .

In the examples "a low monthly fee" and "a wrinkled red shirt," the first adjective modifies the noun plus the second adjective. In other words, we mean that the monthly fee is low and the red shirt is wrinkled. These are noncoordinate modifiers . In the example "low-level radiation," we do not mean radiation that is low and level or level radiation that is low; we mean radiation that is at a low level. Both words are working as a unit to modify the noun—thus, they are unit modifiers .

Unit modifiers are mostly hyphenated. Hyphens not only make it easier for readers to grasp the relationship of the words but also aid in avoiding confusion. For example, the hyphen in "a call for a more-specialized curriculum" removes any ambiguity as to which the word more modifies, and the hyphen in re-sign distinguishes it from resign . Other examples are co-ed and coed , shell-like and shelllike , over-react and overreact , co-worker and coworker , which have either consecutive vowels, doubled consonants, or simply an odd combination of letters and which the inclusion of a hyphen aids in their readability.


The Particle + Noun Compound

Preposition/adverb ( particles ) + noun compounds are styled solid, especially when they are short and the first syllable is accented followed by a syllable with falling stress (as in afterthought , crossbones , download , offhand , upstairs , outfield , onstage , overseas , underhand ). There are also hyphenated particle compounds, like in-house , off-the-cuff , off-line (or offline ), and on-line (or online ).

The styling of Internet ( internet ?)–related compounds ( e-mail / email , website / web site ) remains in flux, with the same compound styled different ways in different publications. We continue to be eagle-eyed lexicographers in our Western Massachusetts-based aerie.


Prefixed, Suffixed, and Combining Form Compounds

Compounds—new, permanent, and temporary—are formed by adding word elements to existing words or by combining word elements. In English, there are three basic word elements: the prefix (such as anti- , non- , pre- , post- , re- , super- ), the suffix (as -er , -ism , -ist , -less , -ful , -ness ), and the combining form ( mini- , macro- , pseudo- , -graphy , -logy ). Prefixes and suffixes are usually attached to existing words; combining forms are usually combined to form new words ( photomicrograph ).

For the most part, compounds formed from a prefix and a word are usually written solid ( superhero ). However, if the prefix ends with a vowel and the word it is attached to begins with a vowel, the compound is usually hyphenated ( de-escalate , co-organizer , pre-engineered ). But there are exceptions: reelection , cooperate , for example. In addition, usage calls for hyphenation between a prefix and a capitalized word or number (post-Colonial, pre-19th century).

A prefixed compound that would be identical with another word, if written solid, is usually hyphenated to prevent misreading ( re-creation , co-op , multi-ply ). Prefixed compounds that might otherwise be solid are often hyphenated in order to clarify their formation, meaning, or pronunciation ( non-news , de-iced , tri-city ). Also, such compounds formed from combining forms like Anglo- , Judeo- , or Sino- are hyphenated when the second element is an independent word and solid when it is a combining form ( Judeo-Christian , Sino-Japanese , Anglophile ).

Some prefixes, and initial combining forms, have related independent adjectives or adverbs that may be used where the prefix might be expected. A temporary compound with quasi(-) or pseudo(-) , therefore, might be written open as modifier + noun or hyphenated as combining form + noun. Thus, the writer must decide which style to follow ( quasi intellectual or quasi-intellectual ; pseudo liberal or pseudo-liberal ).

Compounds formed by adding a suffix to a word are usually written solid ( yellowish , characterless ), except those having a base word that has a suffix beginning with the same letter or is a proper name ( jewel-like , American-ness ). Then, there are unique formations such as president-elect and heir apparent . Additionally, when a word is used as a modifier of a proper name, it is usually attached by a hyphen ("a Los Angeles-based company," "a Pulitzer Prize-winning author").


Permanent and Temporary Compounds

Most two-word permanent and temporary compounds (unit modifiers) are hyphenated when placed before a noun ("one-way street," "a risk-free investment," "East-West trade agreements," "blue-gray/bluish-gray paint") but are often open when following a noun ("The author is well known").

Permanent compounds are those that are so commonly used that they have become—need we say—permanent parts of the language. Temporary compounds are created to meet a writer's need at a particular moment, and they are often formed of an adverb (such as well , more , less , still ) followed by a participle, and hyphenated when placed before a noun ("a still-growing company," "a more-specialized operating system," "a now-vulnerable opponent"). Temporary compounds, often formed from an adverb ending in the suffix -ly followed by a participle, may sometimes be hyphenated but may also be open because adverb + adjective + noun is a normal word order ("an internationally-known artist," "a beautifully illustrated book").

Temporary adjectival compounds may also be formed by using a compound noun. If the compound noun is an open compound , it is usually hyphenated so that the relationship of the words to form an adjective is immediately apparent to the reader ("a tax-law case," "a minor-league pitcher," "problem-solving abilities"). If readily recognizable, the units may occur without a hyphen ("a high school diploma" or "a high-school diploma"; "an income tax refund" or "an income-tax refund"). Also, if the words that make up a compound adjective follow the noun they modify, they fall in normal word order and are, therefore, no longer considered unit modifiers that require hyphenation ("The decisions were made on the spur of the moment"; "They were ill prepared for the journey"; "The comments were made off the record"; "I prefer the paint that is blue gray").


Open or Close the Compound?

When a noun + noun compound is short, and established in the English language and pronounced with equal stress on both nouns, the styling is likely to be open ( bean sprouts , fuel cell , fire drill ). Many short noun + noun compounds, however, that begin as temporary open ones and have the first word accented tend to become solid ( database , football , paycheck , hairbrush ); this is also the case for some adjectives ( shortcut , drywall —but then there's red tape and red-hot ). There are also compounds formed from a verb followed by a noun that is its object, and they tend to be styled as solid ( carryall , pickpocket ). Vice versa, there are noun compounds consisting of a verb form preceded by a noun that is its object ( fish fry , eye-opener , roadblock ), and adjective + noun compounds that are written open ( genetic code , minor league ).

Writers also use a hyphen to make the "unit" relationships of nouns immediately apparent ( English-speakers , Spanish-speaking students , fund-raiser , gene-splicing ), but compounds in which a noun is the object of a following verb-derived word tend to be written open ( problem solver , air conditioning ).

Finally, when the nouns in a noun + noun compound describe a double title or function, the compound is hyphenated ( city-state , secretary-treasurer , hunter-gatherer , bar-restaurant ). And compounds formed from a noun or adjective followed by man , woman , person , or people , as well as denoting an occupation, are regularly solid ( congresswoman , salespeople ). We're pretty sure about those guidelines.


The Verb + Adverb Compound

These compounds may be hyphenated or solid. The compounds with two-letter particles (such as by , to , in , up , on ) are most frequently hyphenated since the hyphen aids in quick comprehension ( lean-to , trade-in , add-on , start-up ). Compounds with three-letter particles ( off , out , through ) are hyphenated or solid with about equal frequency ( spin-off , payoff , time-out , follow-through , giveaway ).

And then there are the verb + -er + particle compounds and verb + -ing + particle compounds. Except for established words like passerby , these compounds are hyphenated ( hanger-on , runner-up , listener-in , falling-out , goings-on , talking-to ). There are also the two-word established forms consisting of a verb followed by an adverb or a preposition, which is styled open: set to , strike out . Then we have words composed of a particle followed by a verb that are usually styled solid ( upgrade , bypass ).


The Compound Noun Turned Verb

The verb form of a compound noun (whether open or hyphenated) most often is spelled with a hyphen ( field-test , water-ski , rubber-stamp ), whereas a verb derived from a solid noun is written solid ( mastermind , brainstorm , sideline ). That one's simple enough. Phew.


To Hyphenate or not to Hyphenate?

That is the question, especially when it comes down to adverb and adjective compounds. And the stickler's answer is to hyphenate when the modifier is before the word it modifies and to write the compound in open form when it follows it (since there is little or no risk of ambiguity). For example, a journalist might publish a word-for-word quotation or a person might be quoted word for word by the journalist, or a writer might be told that what is said is off the record, and any off-the-record information is to remain confidential. However, usage evidence shows that this formula is not closely followed: a team could play back-to-back games or play two games back-to-back; a boss and employee might have a face-to-face discussion or talk face-to-face; a candidate's position might be middle-of-the-road; a child could be accident-prone like his or her accident-prone parent. The point is: many permanent and temporary compounds keep their hyphens after the noun in a sentence if they continue to function as unit modifiers.

But compound adjectives composed of foreign words are not hyphenated when placed before a noun unless they are always hyphenated ("per diem expenses," "the a cappella chorus," but "a ci-devant professor"). Also, chemical names used as modifiers before a noun are not hyphenated ("a citric acid solution"). And a compound noun having three or more words may be either hyphenated or open, depending on preference and usage evidence: editor in chief , base on balls , give-and-take , good-for-nothing , know-it-all , justice of the peace , jack-of-all-trades , pick-me-up , stick-to-itiveness .


The Hyphen as Apostrophe

Hyphens are sometimes used to produce inflected forms of verbs that are made of individually pronounced letters or to add an -er ending to an abbreviation—although apostrophes are more commonly used for the purpose ( x-ed vs. x'd , you decide).

From the time the American League first allowed designated hitters in 1973, another 41 years passed before the first DH was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Frank Thomas will finally get some company this weekend when Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines join him in Cooperstown, New York. Three Hall of Famers in 46 years is a powerful testament to the challenge of DH-ing. — J. P. Hoornstra, The Orange County Register , 17 July 2019 His continued growth as a player will be key to NU's secondary growing into one of the league's best, and Jackson has the right kind of coach, former NFL-er Travis Fisher, to push him toward it. — Sam McKewon, The Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald , 2 Aug. 2019


The Hyphen in Chemical Compounds

A hyphen separates prefixes composed of single letters, numerals, or letter-numeral combinations from the rest of a chemical term. In addition, italicized prefixes are followed by a hyphen. The hyphen is also used to separate units of certain chemically complex terms:

α-amino-β-( p -hydroxyphenyl)propionic acid 2-methyl-3-ethylpentane 6 H -1,2,5-thiadiazine

In amino acid sequences, hyphens are used to separate the abbreviations ("Ala-Lys-Pro-Thr-Tyr-Phe-Gly-Arg-Glu-Gly").

It should be noted, however, that most chemical names used as modifiers are not hyphenated ("the amino acid sequence," "sodium hypochlorite bleach").


Hyphenated Numbers

Numbers that form the first part of a compound modifier that express measurement are followed by a hyphen ("a 28-mile trip," "a 10-pound weight," "a nine-pound baby"), or that are used in a ratio ("a fifty-fifty chance," "60-40 chance"). An adjective that is composed of a number followed by a noun in the possessive is not hyphenated ("two weeks' notice," "a four blocks' walk"). Also, when the modifier follows a noun, it is usually not hyphenated ("The teacher required an essay that was five pages"; "Children who are twelve years old and under can order from the menu"; "The fence is 12 feet high").

Hyphens are used in fractions (e.g., two-thirds ), and they join the parts of whole numbers ( twenty-one ). The hyphen is also found in serial numbers, and social security or engine numbers. If you're measuring something, you might also use the hyphen ( foot-pound , kilowatt-hour , column-inch , light-year ), or if you are talking about periods of time ("pre-2000" or "post-2000," or "post-20th/twentieth century").


Reduplicative Compounds

Compounds that are formed by reduplication , and so consist of two similar-sounding elements (such as hush-hush , razzle-dazzle , or hugger-mugger ), are usually hyphenated if each of the elements is made up of more than one syllable, but the solid styling for such words is also common ( crisscross , knickknack , singsong ). For very short words (such as no-no , so-so ), words in which both elements may have primary stress ( tip-top ), and for injections ( tsk-tsk ), the hyphenated styling is more common.


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Understanding an Abstract Noun (Definition, Examples, Word List)

abstract noun

What is an abstract noun? How is it different from a common noun ? What are words that represent an abstract noun? These are all great questions that you probably have . Abstract nouns can get confusing when comparing them to regular common nouns or proper nouns. This comprehensive guide will break down the abstract noun, its use , and the functions that grammatically govern it.

Abstract noun

What is an abstract noun? 

An abstract noun is a type of noun that represents intangible things. Things you can’t perceive with the five primary senses in the human body (taste, touch, smell, etc.).

Abstract noun definition 

As the name suggests, an abstract noun is a noun type. It refers to an intangible idea (one that you cannot fathom using your five senses). Such intangible concepts could include emotions, qualities, ideas, etc.

All nouns that do not have a tangible or physical object to refer to fall under the bracket of abstract nouns . Abstract nouns are widely used in English proverbs. 

Some common examples include health, wealth, parenthood, anger, courage, and more. 

Abstract noun compared to other nouns 

Nouns are an essential part of speech. They are instrumental in naming places, people, objects, animals, and intangible ideas.

You may have noticed that whenever you write a sentence , you are using at least one noun in it.

Nouns can get used differently in different sentence formations. Their functions can vary. Here are the main types of nouns you could use in a complete sentence:

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are naming agents for places, people, or things. They usually start with a capital letter. 

For example:

  • My name is Lisa. (Lisa is the proper noun )
  • John lives in Finland. (Finland is the proper noun)
  • Jazz is a famous book. (Jazz is the proper noun)

Common Nouns 

Nouns that refer to generic things are referred to as common nouns . 

  • I bought a new book yesterday. (Book is the common noun)
  • There is a pigeon on the windowsill. (Pigeon is the common noun)
  • Rob bought a blue car. (Car is the common noun)

Countable Nouns 

Nouns that can be measured or counted are called countable nouns . 

  • I take two spoons of sugar in my tea. (“Two” is the countable noun )
  • She bought a dozen bananas at the market. (“A dozen” is the countable noun) 

Uncountable Nouns 

Nouns that cannot be measured or counted are called uncountable nouns. 

  • I have plenty of homework. (Plenty is the uncountable noun)
  • Is that enough milk in your coffee? (Enough is the uncountable noun)

Collective Nouns 

Collective nouns depict a group of objects, people, animals, and more. 

  • A flock of sheep 
  • A pile of books 
  • A school of fish 
  • A bevy of women 

Concrete Nouns 

Also referred to as material nouns, concrete nouns refer to things that have a physical presence and can be perceived using the five senses. 

Abstract Nouns 

Any noun that is intangible or which cannot be perceived using the five senses is an abstract noun . 

  • Bravery is a virtue. (Bravery is the abstract noun)
  • My childhood was merry and fun . (Childhood is the abstract noun)

Abstract vs. concrete noun

Abstract nouns in comparison to concrete nouns 

Concrete noun, as the name suggests, includes all those objects which have a physical presence and are tangible. They can be perceived with the help of our five senses. These include nouns such as book, pen, cup, table silk, door, car, and so on. 

  • I travel to school by bus . (School and bus are both concrete nouns )
  • Sally opened the door. (Door is the concrete noun) 

Abstract nouns include everything that is intangible and cannot be perceived by the five senses. These include emotions, feelings, ideas, and more. 

  • Honesty is the best policy. (Honesty is the abstract noun)
  • Freedom is my birthright. (Freedom is the abstract noun) 

Abstract noun word list

Abstract noun word list 

Here are some examples of abstract nouns based on their kind. 

  • Feelings – sympathy, fear, anxiety, stress, pleasure
  • State – Chaos, peace, misery, freedom
  • Emotions – anger, joy, sorrow, hate 
  • Qualities – determination, courage, honesty, generosity, patience 
  • Concepts – democracy, charity, deceit, opportunity, comfort 
  • Moments – career, death, marriage, childhood, birth 

Abstract noun word list

More examples of commonly used abstract nouns

  • Bravery 
  • Brilliance 
  • Childhood 
  • Comfort 
  • Compassion 
  • Communication 
  • Curiosity 
  • Culture 
  • Dedication 
  • Energy 
  • Faith 
  • Friendship 
  • Gossip 
  • Information 
  • Imagination 
  • Intelligence 
  • Integrity 
  • Justice 
  • Knowledge 
  • Kindness 
  • Liberty 
  • Loyalty 
  • Luxury 
  • Motivation 
  • Perseverance 
  • Relaxation 
  • Skill 
  • Satisfaction 
  • Strength 
  • Success 
  • Thought 
  • Talent 
  • Truth 
  • Trust 
  • Wisdom 
  • Warmth 

Sentence examples with abstract nouns 

The following are three sentence examples with abstract nouns – 

  • This cafe has a pleasant ambiance. (Ambiance is the abstract noun)
  • Pride is a deadly sin. (Pride is the abstract noun)
  • My friendship with Peter is of seven years . (Friendship is the abstract noun) 

Conversion of Verbs and Adjectives into Abstract Nouns 

Convert verbs and adjectives into abstract nouns by adding a suffix . The reverse is also a possibility. 

  • Perceive – Perception 
  • Inform – Information 
  • Determine – Determination 
  • Dark – Darkness 
  • Silent – Silence

Why are abstract nouns important? 

Abstract nouns are tricky. Use concrete nouns to make them understandable in sentences. Abstract nouns are not of much use from a business point of view.

However, they are an integral part of any English grammar course. Conversions between abstract nouns and verbs or adjectives are essential while learning complete sentence construction.

Yes, warmth is an abstract noun. 

The abstract form of ability (abstract noun) is able.

Five examples of abstract nouns include honesty, glory, patience, determination, and truth.

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abstract compound words

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abstract compound words

About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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Compound Words | Types and List of 1000+ Compound Words in English

Posted on Last updated: July 13, 2021

Compound Words | Types and List of 1000+ Compound Words in English

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Every word has its own meaning. You can search for the definition of every term in the dictionary. But do you know that you can put two words together and have a brand new meaning? Of course, not all words can be put together for such a case. However, many ones are already accepted in the English language. These words are called compound words.

Table of Contents

Compound Words

What are compound words.

Compound words are formed when two or more words are combined to produce a new one. This newly-constructed word has its own meaning that can either be related to the base words or not.

Types of Compound Words

Open compound words.

Open compound words remain separate when written but are used together to create a new idea. For example, “peanut” and “butter” are unrelated to each other. But when you combine them and use them as one word, you will have “peanut butter,” which is already a different noun with its own meaning.

Closed Compound Words

Closed compound words are formed by combining two fully independent words together without space in between. An example of a closed-form compound word is “grandfather,” in which “grand” and “father” are put together.

Hyphenated Compound Words

Another possible form of a compound word is the hyphenated one. From the word itself, the independent terms used are separated by a hyphen or dash. A common example is “mother-in-law.”

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are simply compound words that act as nouns . Nouns are names of people, animals, places, things, or events. However, it does not mean that the two words comprising it should only be nouns. A compound noun can be formed by combining two nouns, an adjective and a noun, a verb and a noun, and many more.

Compound Verbs

A compound verb is also called a complex predicate. It is a multi-word compound that acts as a single verb. It can be constructed by putting together a verb and a preposition or a verb and an adverb ( phrasal verbs ). Auxiliary verbs that are followed by the main verb can also be considered compounds. Some other combinations that involve a verb and a non-verb word can also be considered compound verbs if they indicate action.

Compound Adjectives

Two or more words that function as one and describe a noun are called compound adjectives . Usually, they are separated by a hyphen.

List of Compound Words

  • Ice cream cake
  • Cream cheese
  • Corned beef
  • Table cloth
  • High school
  • Roller coaster
  • Living room
  • Serving spoon
  • Real estate
  • Cotton ball
  • Coffee grain
  • Post office
  • Sweet tooth
  • Common sense
  • Police officer
  • Vice president
  • Science fiction
  • Christmas tree
  • Cell membrane
  • Jumping jack
  • Report card
  • Credit card
  • Snack house
  • Coffee shop
  • Swimming pool
  • Rubber band
  • Grandmother
  • Grandfather
  • Granddaughter
  • Grasshopper
  • Candlelight
  • Cheeseburger
  • Rattlesnake
  • Mother-in-law
  • Father-in-law
  • Sister-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Sergeant-at-arms
  • Merry-go-round
  • Happy-go-lucky
  • Editor-in-chief
  • Over-the-counter
  • State-of-the-art
  • Left-handed
  • Right-handed
  • Full-length
  • Long-haired
  • Breath-taking
  • Self-centered
  • Single-minded
  • Knee-length
  • Short-tempered
  • Warm-blooded
  • Cold-blooded
  • Get-together

A Huge List of Compound Words

Following is a list of 1000 close compound words in English

  • Afterburner
  • Backbreaker
  • Backstretch
  • Blackberries
  • Butterfingers
  • Butterflies
  • Butterscotch
  • Candlestick
  • Carpetbagger
  • Coffeemaker
  • Commonplace
  • Commonwealth
  • Cottonmouth
  • Counterattack
  • Counterbalance
  • Counterclockwise
  • Counterintelligence
  • Countermeasure
  • Counteroffensive
  • Counterpane
  • Counterpart
  • Counterpoint
  • Counterpoise
  • Eyecatching
  • Eye-catching
  • Firecracker
  • Firefighter
  • Foreclosure
  • Glassmaking
  • Grandchildren
  • Grandmaster
  • Grandnephew
  • Grandnieces
  • Grandparent
  • Headquarters
  • Honeysuckle
  • Horseradish
  • Housekeeper
  • Laughingstock
  • Overabundance
  • Racquetball
  • Readywitted
  • Schoolhouse
  • Sharecropper
  • Sharpshooter
  • Shipbuilder
  • Silversmith
  • Spokesperson
  • Supercharge
  • Superhighways
  • Superimpose
  • Supermarket
  • Supernatural
  • Superscript
  • Supersensitive
  • Superstrong
  • Superstructure
  • Supertanker
  • Superweapon
  • Tenderhearted
  • Thunderbird
  • Thunderbolt
  • Thundershower
  • Thunderstorm
  • Underachieve
  • Undercharge
  • Underclothes
  • Undercurrent
  • Underdevelop
  • Underesimate
  • Underestimate
  • Underexpose
  • Underfinance
  • Undergarment
  • Undergraduate
  • Underground
  • Undergrowth
  • Underhanded
  • Upperclassman
  • Warmblooded
  • Warmhearted
  • Wastebasket
  • Watercooler
  • Weathercock
  • Weatherproof
  • Wheelbarrow

Compound Words | Images

Compound Words | Types and A Huge List of 1000+ Compound Words in English

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  • 1 Your CLIL
  • 2 Conclusions and findings: Science
  • 3 Generalizations: Geography
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  • 11 Compounds: Geography
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Compounds: Science

By Keith Kelly

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Keith Kelly looks at examples of language used in forming complex noun and adjective phrases from the area of science, which contain a mixture of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions.

Compound adjective phrases

It is rare to find more than two or three adjectives placed in sequence together in everyday speech. There is a standard word order for multiple adjectives: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material.

These phrases occur more frequently in technical and scientific language and they are frequently very close in meaning and category and so less easy to order according to the rule above (e.g. Pure aluminium is a light, nontoxic, nonmagnetic and non-sparking, silvery-white metal. It is reflective, malleable, easily machined and cast, and is soft, weak and decorative.). As a general rule, the adjective which is closest to the related noun in meaning comes first. It is usually describing a permanent characteristic, while other more variable characteristics come last.

using multiple adjectives

- Enzymes are complex three-dimensional globular proteins which speed up the organism’s metabolism without being changed by the reaction.

adding a noun phrase to a present participle (- ing ) with a hyphen

energy-demanding: People who lead sedentary lives may take up some form of sport or energy-demanding activity to boost their energy use. oxygen-carrying: This results in an increase in the number of red blood cells and the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

adding the adverb well to a past participle (- ed )

Note: This usually refers to something that has been done or carried out in the past.

well-established: In the budding process a dormant bud is removed from one plant and attached so that it will grow on another plant that has a well-established root system. well-labelle d : The safe chemistry lab should have well-labelled chemical storage bottles that have secured caps.

adding to an adjective

adjective + noun: There is a much higher risk for a teenage mother of giving birth to a low-weight baby . noun + adjective: A brick-red precipitate indicates the presence of a reducing sugar. adjective + adjective: The ventricles contract, forcing atrioventricular valves to close and blood passes into arteries. (1)

linking a number phrase with a noun phrase ( single -, five -)

single-celled: Yeast is a single-celled fungus reproducing asexually, by a process known as budding. double-walled: It is a double-walled glass vessel: a small bottle inside a large one that only touches or joins at the mouth. five-minute: At five-minute intervals for a total of 60 minutes, use a ruler to measure the distance moved by the solution from the original mark.

linking a past participle to a preposition with a hyphen

built-i n : Some plants have a built-in mechanism allowing seeds to be scattered when the dry fruit suddenly bursts open.

Compound noun phrases

Nouns are modified using other words such as adjectives, other nouns or present (- ing ) or past (- ed ) participles. Modifying nouns function in a similar way to adjectives, and they are created with new ideas, as new needs arise for new terms. These nouns can be standalone items, connected with a hyphen or compounded into one word.

nouns linked to other word forms by a hyphen

noun + noun cross-pollination: Cross-pollination produces a greater variety of offspring because two parents are involved. liquid-in-glass: The liquid used in a liquid-in-glass thermometer is usually either alcohol or mercury. cross-section: A tooth cross-section shows that the tooth consists of three layers.

noun + past participle insect-pollinated: Flowers such as roses and dandelions are mainly insect- or animal-pollinated . air-born e : Some flowers have feathery stigmas to catch air-borne pollen grains. enzyme-catalyzed: Because less Ea is need in an enzyme-catalyzed reaction, reactions will occur more frequently and more rapidly.

noun + adjective water-solubl e : Water-soluble vitamins are easily assimilated by the body because they dissolve in water and mix easily with the blood. fat-soluble: Fat-soluble products and vitamins are absorbed into the lacteal and transported to the liver.

several ideas compounded into a one-word phrase

backbone: All fatty acids are lipids and have a long hydrocarbon chain forming a pleated backbone of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached, and a carboxyl (COOH) group at one end. photosynthesis: The cotyledons get into the light quickly and have chlorophyll for photosynthesis so they can make food. (2)

standalone items in multiple mixed-word strings

multiple noun strings - Explain the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurement readings . (3) - Living organisms have special waste produce excretion mechanisms that result in excretion of by-products from the body. - Glycogen is the only carbohydrate energy store found in animals. - The resistance of negative temperature coefficient thermistors decreases as the temperature increases.

mixed strings – noun, adverb, participle, adjective - There are about twenty commonly occurring amino acids in protein.

adjective and noun strings - The cell nucleus is found in all eukaryotic cells except red blood cells and mature phloem sieve tubes .

There are other compound forms which are dealt with in Comparisons: Science and include phrases such as -like , -shaped , etc.)

(1) (2) There are many compound phrases like these in science – too many to cover here! They can be studied in a similar way as prefixes, infixes and suffixes, which are dealt with in other sections of onestopenglish, e.g. Comparisons: Science and Grammar: affixes )

 (3) It is very common to find multiple word strings used in science to describe devices, machines and instruments.

Phot of the CLIL logo or of a OSE lesson plan.

Conclusions and findings: Science

Generalizations: geography, explanations: science, change: science, change: geography, roots: science, roots: geography, process: science, compounds: geography, process: geography, attributing: science, attributing: geography, line graphs: science, line graphs: geography, hypothesis: science, hypothesis: geography, measuring: science, measuring: geography, classification: geography, classification: science, comparisons: science, comparisons: geography, cause and effect: geography, related articles, esp bank: medical: case reports.

By Sam McCarter

Students are helped to write a case report


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Should male menopause be considered an actual medical condition?


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Keith Kelly looks at examples of language used in making conclusions and findings from the area of science, categorized by nouns, verbs, word groups and prepositions.

Conclusions and findings: Geography

Keith Kelly looks at examples of language used in making conclusions and findings from the area of geography, categorized by nouns, verbs, word groups and prepositions.

Generalizations: Science

Keith Kelly looks at examples of language used in making generalizations from the area of science; these can be split into three broad groups: quantity, frequency and certainty.

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The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

Rochelle Lieber is Professor of Linguistics at the University of New Hampshire. Her interests include morphological theory, especially derivation and compounding, lexical semantics, and the morphology-syntax interface. She is the author of several books: On the Organization of the Lexicon (IULC, 1981), An Integrated Theory of Autosegmental Processes (State University of New York Press, 1987), Deconstructing Morphology (University of Chicago Press, 1992), Morphology and Lexical Semantics (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and Introducing Morphology (Cambridge University Press, 2010). She is the co-author, with Laurie Bauer and Ingo Plag of the Oxford Reference Guide to English Morphology (Oxford University Press, 2013). Together with Pavol Štekauer she has edited two handbooks, the Handbook of Word Formation (Springer, 2005) and the Oxford Handbook of Compounding (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Pavol Štekauer is Professor of English linguistics at P.J. Šafárik University, Košice, Slovakia. His research has focused on an onomasiological approach to word-formation, sociolinguistic aspects of word-formation, meaning predictability of complex words, and crosslinguistic research into wotrd-formation. He is the author of A Theory of Conversion in English (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996), An Onomasiological Theory of English Word-Formation (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1998), English Word-Formation. A History of Research (1960-1995). Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2000), and Meaning Predictability in Word-Formation (Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins). He co-edited (with Rochelle Lieber) Handbook of Word-formation (Springer 2005) and Oxford Handbook of Compounding (OUP 2009).

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This book presents a comprehensive review of theoretical work on the linguistics and psycholinguistics of compound words and combines it with a series of surveys of compounding in a variety of languages from a wide range of language families. Compounding is an effective way to create and express new meanings. Compound words are segmentable into their constituents so that new items can often be understood on first presentation. However, as keystone, keynote, and keyboard, and breadboard, sandwich-board, and mortarboard show, the relation between components is often far from straightforward. The question then arises as to how far compound sequences are analysed at each encounter and how far they are stored in the brain as single lexical items. The nature and processing of compounds thus offer an unusually direct route to how language operates in the mind, as well as providing the means of investigating important aspects of morphology and lexical semantics, and insights to child language acquisition and the organization of the mental lexicon. The book reports on the state of the art in these and other central topics, including the classification and typology of compounds, and approaches to cross-linguistic research on the subject from generative and non-generative, and synchronic and diachronic perspectives.

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Abstract Words: The Ultimate List to Unlock Your Abstract Thinking

By: Author ESLBUZZ

Posted on Last updated: September 14, 2023

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Abstract words are an essential part of the English language and are often used in various contexts. They are words that refer to concepts, ideas, or feelings that cannot be touched or seen. Abstract words can be challenging for English language learners to understand and use correctly. In this article, we will explore the meaning of abstract words, their importance in the English language, and how to use them effectively in writing and speaking.

Abstract Words

Abstract Words: The Ultimate List to Unlock Your Abstract Thinking

Understanding Abstract Words

Abstract words are words that describe concepts, ideas, or feelings that cannot be seen or touched. They are often used to describe intangible things such as emotions, ideas, or qualities. Examples of abstract words include love, hate, courage, and honesty. These words are important because they help us communicate complex ideas and emotions.

To help you better understand abstract words, here are some examples with their meanings:

Here are some example sentences using abstract words:

  • She showed great courage during the difficult times.
  • His honesty and integrity are beyond reproach.
  • Love is a powerful emotion that can bring people together.
  • Freedom is a fundamental human right that should be protected.
  • Justice must be served for those who have been wronged.

Abstract vs. Concrete Words

Concrete words.

Concrete words are easier to define because they refer to tangible objects, people, and places. Here are some examples of concrete words:

The primary difference between abstract and concrete words is that abstract words refer to intangible concepts, while concrete words refer to tangible objects. Using a combination of both abstract and concrete words in your writing can help you convey complex ideas and make them more understandable for your readers.

When using abstract words, it’s important to provide clear and concise definitions to help your readers understand the concepts you’re discussing. When using concrete words, it’s important to provide specific details to help your readers visualize the objects or places you’re describing.

The Importance of Abstract Words


Abstract words are an integral part of effective communication. They allow us to express complex ideas and emotions that cannot be conveyed through concrete words alone. For example, words like “love,” “honor,” and “justice” are abstract words that carry a significant amount of meaning and emotion. Without these words, our ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings would be severely limited.


Research has shown that individuals with a strong understanding of abstract words tend to have higher levels of intelligence. This is because abstract words require a deeper level of thinking and understanding than concrete words. When we learn abstract words, we are forced to think critically about the concepts they represent, which can help to enhance our overall cognitive abilities.

Abstract words are also essential for academic success. They are commonly used in academic writing and are often found in textbooks and scholarly articles. By developing your understanding of abstract words, you can improve your ability to comprehend and analyze complex academic texts.

Finally, understanding abstract words can help to increase your awareness and empathy for others. Abstract words like “compassion,” “empathy,” and “tolerance” are essential for building strong relationships and creating a more compassionate and understanding society.

Abstract Words in Different Aspects of Life

Abstract words play a significant role in society. They help us describe and understand the complex social structures and relationships that exist between individuals and communities. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in society include:

In the context of home, abstract words are used to express feelings and emotions related to family, comfort, and safety. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of home include:

Abstract words are also used to describe the experiences and emotions of childhood. They help us understand the world around us and make sense of our experiences. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of childhood include:

Abstract words are essential in describing the complex emotions and experiences that come with friendship. They help us express our feelings towards our friends and understand the dynamics of our relationships. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of friendship include:

Abstract words are often used to describe the physical and emotional experiences of pain. They help us understand and communicate the intensity and nature of our pain. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of pain include:

Abstract words are also used to describe the emotions and experiences of joy. They help us express our happiness and understand the things that bring us joy. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of joy include:

Abstract words are often used to describe the state of peace and tranquility. They help us understand and communicate the absence of conflict and tension. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of peace include:

Abstract words are also used to describe the concept of power and authority. They help us understand and communicate the dynamics of power and control. Some examples of abstract words that are commonly used in the context of power include:

Using Abstract Words Effectively

Choosing the right abstract words.

Choosing the right abstract words is crucial in effectively conveying your message. Here are some tips to help you choose the right abstract words:

  • Consider your audience: Choose abstract words that your audience can relate to and understand.
  • Use concrete examples: Use concrete examples to illustrate abstract concepts and ideas.
  • Avoid ambiguity: Avoid using abstract words that are ambiguous or have multiple meanings.

Advantages of Using Abstract Words

Using abstract words can have several advantages in your writing. Here are some advantages of using abstract words:

  • Adds depth and complexity: Abstract words can add depth and complexity to your writing, making your message more profound and thought-provoking.
  • Evokes emotions: Abstract words can evoke emotions in your readers, making your writing more engaging and memorable.
  • Allows for creativity: Abstract words allow for creativity in your writing, giving you the freedom to express yourself in unique and imaginative ways.

Challenges in Understanding Abstract Words

One of the main challenges learners face when trying to understand abstract words is confusion. Abstract words can have multiple meanings and can be used in various contexts, which can lead to confusion. For example, the word “love” can mean a strong feeling of affection, a great interest or pleasure in something, or a person or thing that one loves. Therefore, it is essential to understand the context in which the word is being used to understand its meaning correctly.

Another challenge learners face when trying to understand abstract words is difficulty. Abstract words are often complex and can be challenging to define or explain. For example, the word “happiness” is an abstract word that represents a feeling or emotion that is difficult to describe. Therefore, learners may struggle to understand and use abstract words correctly in sentences.

Understanding abstract words can be a significant challenge for learners, but it is essential to develop a strong vocabulary to communicate effectively in a new language. Here are some strategies that can help learners overcome the challenges of understanding abstract words:

  • Use context clues: Pay attention to the words and phrases that surround an abstract word to help determine its meaning.
  • Look up definitions: Use a dictionary or online resources to find definitions and examples of abstract words.
  • Practice using abstract words in sentences: Practice using abstract words in sentences to help reinforce their meaning and usage.

Teaching Abstract Words

As educators, we know that teaching abstract words can be a challenge. Unlike concrete words, abstract words are intangible and difficult to visualize, making them harder for students to understand and remember. However, there are many activities and games that can help students learn abstract words in a fun and engaging way. In this section, we’ll explore some of the best ways to teach abstract words to your students.

Activities for Teaching Abstract Words

One effective way to teach abstract words is through activities that encourage students to use the words in context. Here are some examples of activities you can use in the classroom:

  • Word Association: Have students brainstorm a list of words that are associated with the abstract word you’re teaching. For example, if you’re teaching the word “love,” students could come up with words like “affection,” “compassion,” and “devotion.”
  • Sentence Completion: Provide students with a sentence that includes the abstract word you’re teaching, but with a blank space where the word should go. Have students fill in the blank with the correct word.
  • Visualizing Abstract Words: Encourage students to create visual representations of abstract words. For example, students could draw a picture of “happiness” or “sadness” to help them understand the meaning of these abstract words.

Games for Teaching Abstract Words

Games are another great way to teach abstract words. Here are some examples of games you can use in the classroom:

  • Charades: Have students act out the meaning of an abstract word without speaking. Other students must guess the word based on the actions.
  • Bingo: Create bingo cards with abstract words and their definitions. Call out the definitions, and students must match them to the correct word on their bingo card.
  • Word Scavenger Hunt: Hide cards around the classroom with abstract words written on them. Students must find the cards and write a sentence using the word correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common academic vocabulary words?

Academic vocabulary words are those that are commonly used in academic writing and communication. Some examples of academic vocabulary words include analyze, evaluate, summarize, hypothesis, methodology, and empirical. These words are often used in research papers, essays, and other academic writing assignments.

What is the 1,000 academic word list and where can I find it?

The 1,000 academic word list is a list of the most commonly used academic words in English. It is a useful resource for students who want to improve their academic vocabulary. The list can be found online and is often used by English language learners and teachers.

What are some resources for improving my academic writing vocabulary?

There are many resources available for students who want to improve their academic writing vocabulary. Some of these resources include academic vocabulary books, online vocabulary quizzes and exercises, and academic writing workshops. It is also helpful to read academic articles and papers to become familiar with the vocabulary used in academic writing.

How can I incorporate more abstract words into my writing?

Incorporating more abstract words into your writing can be challenging, but it is important for conveying complex ideas and concepts. One way to do this is to use analogies or metaphors to help explain abstract concepts. It is also helpful to use concrete examples to illustrate abstract concepts.

What are some examples of abstract words used in academic writing?

Some examples of abstract words used in academic writing include paradigm, discourse, ontology, epistemology, and methodology. These words are often used in academic disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, and psychology.

What are some techniques for memorizing and using abstract vocabulary words effectively?

One technique for memorizing abstract vocabulary words is to use flashcards or other memory aids. It is also helpful to use the words in context by writing sentences or paragraphs that incorporate the words. Another technique is to break down the words into their component parts to better understand their meanings. Finally, it is important to practice using the words in conversation and writing to become more comfortable with them.

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In this section, we covered some frequently asked questions about academic vocabulary words and how to improve your academic writing vocabulary. By incorporating these tips and techniques, you can become more confident and knowledgeable in your use of abstract vocabulary words.

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abstract compound words

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The representation and processing of compounds words

From the book word knowledge and word usage.

  • Gary Libben , Christina L. Gagné and Wolfgang U. Dressler

Compound words may be the language structures that are most fundamental to human linguistic ability and most revealing of its dynamics. We review evidence to date on the representation and processing of compound words in the mind and highlight the implications that they have for the broader understanding of language functioning and lexical knowledge. Our examination of the nature of compounds focuses on their deceptive simplicity as well as their dual nature as words and lexical combinations. Compound processing appears to be advantaged when compounds belong to morphologically productive families and when they are both formally and semantically transparent. We also claim that current findings offer converging evidence that compound word processing is characterized by both whole word and constituent activation for compound types.

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Word Knowledge and Word Usage

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Types of Nouns: Common, Proper, Abstract, Collective

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Author:  William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)

Tutor and Freelance Writer. Science Teacher and Lover of Essays. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

it’s great, helped me alot 🙂

what are nouns

This helped me a lot

Waht’s the collective noun for weather?

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Power of Play: Duke Employees Build Bonds Through Games

Challenging games and word puzzles sharpen minds and team connections

Williams Laboratory employees work through word games together in their lab

Mitchell Martin is staring at 16 rectangles labeled with 16 different words on his computer screen, and he’s trying to work out how the terms with seemingly no connection are related.

Five of his colleagues in the Williams Laboratory at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute are huddled around him, tossing out suggestions until they get to the word “wind.” They realize it has more than one meaning when pronounced differently.

“Maybe it’s ‘whined’ instead of ‘wind,’” suggests Martin, a Lab Research Analyst. “Like, ‘wind something up’? Usually there’s one category that’s obscure, abstract or wordplay.”

After some debate, they discover it’s “wind” like “a breeze,” and it matches with others that are the back-half of compound phrases starting with “second.” Second-guess, second-fiddle, second-nature, second- wind . Cracking that pattern helps the lab solve the entire New York Times Connections puzzle in about four minutes.

Colleagues in the Williams Laboratory at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute discuss a word game.

Each day, the lab takes a break from the dense study of antibody responses to HIV-1 to inform vaccine design to play a series of word games like Wordle , Connections and Semantle . As the old saying goes, co-workers who solve word games together get along better (or something like that).

“These games have really been a way to bond as we have very little in common apart from working together,” says Sommer Holmes , a Lab Research Analyst. “They’ve helped new members integrate and fostered our social dynamic, making us more communicative and collaborative – important factors for lab work, especially.”

Playing word games – or simply games, in general – can help departments and teams bond, whether it’s by competing against each other for bragging rights or collaborating for answers. And just as importantly, the practice can keep minds sharp and improve work performance.

Cross-Training Your Brain

P. Murali Doraiswamy

P. Murali Doraiswamy is a Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at Duke University, and a researcher at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. He says there’s a concept called “cognitive reserve” that theorizes people might be more resistant to age-related, degenerative changes if they work to stimulate more connections within the brain. You do that through challenging your mind and seeking new experiences.

Then it’s like being in an area with a lot of cell phone towers, he says, and your phone has a very good signal that rarely drops.

Doraiswamy likes to remind people that every aspect of our cognition can be strengthened, much like a muscle.

“As you're moving from one area to another, even if there's a thunderstorm in one area, you're unlikely to have a lost signal because of the density of the network,” Doraiswamy says. “It’s sort of like that in the brain.”

Word games, crossword puzzles and Sudoku “cross train” the brain, building new connections in different ways, Doraiswamy says.

Though it’s one of the greatest benefits, the advantages of playing games in the workplace go beyond staving off cognitive decline, too.

The Team Bonders

Duke Clinical Research Institute  co-workers play Uno during a "Tuesdays Together" event.

Duke Clinical Research Institute created a weekly event series called “Tuesdays Together” in late February to help bring colleagues together – and games are often at the heart of what they call their “work+engage” endeavor.

The first event was a DCRI trivia challenge, then scavenger hunts and most recently, “Uno-palooza” – where both onsite and remote workers were dealt into a tournament of the card game.

“It breaks you out of that work element by potentially getting to see another side of a person – you get to see their playful side, you get to see maybe their competitive side,” says Jennifer Riley , a Senior Communications Specialist. “It helps in that spirit of playfulness to engage people and get them to work together in ways that they might not have in the past.”

Staying Sharp Solo

Laura Lane

Laura Lane has a routine: She starts each day with The New York Times’ Spelling Bee game, hoping to achieve “Queen Bee” status before she moves on to Connections. Then she’ll make her way to Wordle, and then the Solitaire Daily Challenge . Finally, she’ll end with one last word game called Waffle .

“That’s a good morning,” says Lane, a Sector Director in Fuqua School of Business.

Lane prefers to work out the puzzles on her own rather than competing against or collaborating with co-workers, though she’s been known to ask colleagues for advice if she’s still stuck and has to take another stab at solving something at lunchtime.

She knows puzzles and word games are good for her brain, but keeping sharp isn’t the primary reason she makes them a part of her daily routine.

“I mean, I'm 59, so I hope it does,” she says. “But mostly I do the word games because I enjoy it.”

The Fuqua Games Collection

Around 2018, the MBA Games Club at Fuqua School of Business made an unusual request: They wanted the Ford Library at Fuqua to amass a collection of board and card games.

Some of the games in the Ford Library at Fuqua School of Business collection

Amy Brennan , a Collection Services Librarian, wasn’t sure what to expect when the library began adding strategy and team-building games.

“We thought it was going to be a very limited-use collection, and we didn't really inject a lot into it to start,” she says. “But it keeps getting more popular and checked out every month. So, we just keep adding to it.”

The Ford Library now has about 60 titles in its collection, with everything from Catan to Exploding Kittens to something called Racoon Tycoon. Any staff, faculty or student at Duke can check out three games at a time. Through the first four months of 2024, games were checked out 428 times.

Library staff, itself, has used the games for team-building, too, playing a challenging word game called Just One .

“Doing team-building exercises with games is important, and game theory in business is a big thing,” Brennan says. “Because it kind of works. Teaching people in a fun way is part of what we're doing.”

Send story ideas, shout-outs and photographs by writing [email protected] .

Follow Working@Duke on  X (Twitter) , Facebook, and  Instagra m .


  1. Compound Words: Useful List Of 160 Compound Words With Example

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  2. Abstract Nouns: Definition, Types, and Useful Examples • 7ESL

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  3. Compound Words: List of Compound Words with Different Types • 7ESL

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  5. 500+ Compound Words List with Definition, Infographics and PDF

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  6. Abstract Compound Words Syllables and Affixes Games and Activities

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  1. Compound Words

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  1. Abstract Nouns: List of 165 Important Abstract Nouns from A to Z

    Abstract Noun Definition. Abstract nouns are intangible concepts or ideas that cannot be experienced with the five senses. They represent things like emotions, ideas, qualities, and states of being.Unlike concrete nouns that refer to physical objects or things that can be perceived by the senses, abstract nouns cannot be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted.

  2. Concrete and abstract nouns (video)

    Concrete and abstract nouns. A concrete noun refers to a physical object in the real world, such as a dog, a ball, or an ice cream cone. An abstract noun refers to an idea or concept that does not exist in the real world and cannot be touched, like freedom, sadness, or permission.

  3. Abstract Noun

    Revised on April 18, 2023. An abstract noun is a noun that refers to something non-physical—something conceptual that you can't perceive directly with your senses. Examples include "sadness," "analysis," "government," and "adulthood.". Abstract nouns are contrasted with concrete nouns, which are words like "cat," "desk ...

  4. Noun Types: Abstract, Concrete, Collective and Compound

    Noun Types: Abstract, Concrete, Collective and Compound. Most of us know that nouns are naming words. The noun 'dog', for instance, is the name we use for the species of four-legged, domestic mammals that occasionally drink out of toilets. Sometimes they play poker, too. Nouns are thus fundamental to language, and knowing how different ...

  5. Compound Words: Unleash Your Word Power in English

    The words that make up a compound word can be of different types, such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, or adverbs. Compound words can be formed in three ways: closed, open, or hyphenated. Closed compound words are written as a single word, such as "baseball" or "moonlight.". Open compound words are written as separate words, such as ...

  6. Compound Words

    A compound word (sometimes just called a compound) is a series of two or more words that collectively form a single word. There are three types of compound words, which differ in terms of how they are written: An open compound word is written with spaces between the words (e.g., "high school"). A hyphenated compound word is written with ...

  7. English Grammar Rules

    Many abstract nouns are formed from adjectives, though some are formed from verbs or nouns. You'll find one of these words in parenthesis at the end of each sentence. Use it to form an abstract noun to fill in the blank. Answer Key: 1 - Kindness 2 - Strongness 3 - Darkness 4 - Pleasure 5 - Friendship.

  8. What Are Compound Nouns? Definition, Examples, & More

    Compound Noun Definition. A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two words that, if separated, could stand on their own. When two distinct words are combined to form a noun, they take on a new meaning that may or may not be related to either of the original words. For example, "ice cream" is a compound noun.

  9. Compound Nouns

    A compound noun consists of two or more words that combine to form a new noun. The separate words do not need to be nouns themselves, but the compound word becomes a noun. Once linked, they become either common nouns, proper nouns, or abstract nouns: Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions can combine to form compound nouns.

  10. Forming Compound Words

    The Compound. A compound is a word or word group that consists of two or more parts that work together as a unit to express a specific concept. Examples are double-check, cost-effective, around-the-clock, hand-to-hand, forward-thinking, eyeliner, and iced tea. They might also be formed from prefixes or suffixes, as in ex-president, supermicro ...

  11. Understanding an Abstract Noun (Definition, Examples, Word List)

    What is an abstract noun? How is it different from a common noun? What are words that represent an abstract noun? These are all great questions that you probably have. Abstract nouns can get confusing when comparing them to regular common nouns or proper nouns. This comprehensive guide will break down the abstract noun, its use, and the functions that grammatically govern it.

  12. Compound nouns

    A compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words. Compound nouns include words joined with a space (open or separated), without a space (closed), and with a hyphen (hyphenated). Compound nouns can be formed with different parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions. The best way to learn the spelling of compound ...

  13. Types and List of 1000+ Compound Words in English

    Closed Compound Words. Closed compound words are formed by combining two fully independent words together without space in between. An example of a closed-form compound word is "grandfather," in which "grand" and "father" are put together. Hyphenated Compound Words. Another possible form of a compound word is the hyphenated one.


    Referring to the meaning of compound words found from the contextual meaning, there are 140 words of the exocentric compound and 113 words of the endocentric compound.</p View Show abstract

  15. Compounds: Science

    Compound noun phrases. Nouns are modified using other words such as adjectives, other nouns or present (-ing) or past (-ed) participles. Modifying nouns function in a similar way to adjectives, and they are created with new ideas, as new needs arise for new terms. These nouns can be standalone items, connected with a hyphen or compounded into ...

  16. The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

    Abstract. This book presents a comprehensive review of theoretical work on the linguistics and psycholinguistics of compound words and combines it with a series of surveys of compounding in a variety of languages from a wide range of language families. Compounding is an effective way to create and express new meanings.

  17. Abstract Words: The Ultimate List to Unlock Your Abstract ...

    Communication. Abstract words are an integral part of effective communication. They allow us to express complex ideas and emotions that cannot be conveyed through concrete words alone. For example, words like "love," "honor," and "justice" are abstract words that carry a significant amount of meaning and emotion.

  18. The representation and processing of compounds words

    Abstract: Compound words may be the language structures that are most funda-mental to human linguistic ability and most revealing of its dynamics. We review ... of compound word production and comprehension creates new lexical forms that acquire specific morphological properties as compound heads (e.g.,-car) or modifiers (e.g. box-) that are ...

  19. The representation and processing of compounds words

    Abstract. Compound words may be the language structures that are most fundamental to human linguistic ability and most revealing of its dynamics. We review evidence to date on the representation and processing of compound words in the mind and highlight the implications that they have for the broader understanding of language functioning and ...

  20. Types of Nouns: Common, Proper, Abstract, Collective

    A proper noun is the specific name of something and somebody. It is used to name people, places, days, months, educational subjects, and titles of films, books, and songs. Proper nouns always start with a capital letter. 1. My name is Susan. 2. I live in Hummingbird Avenue, Port Elizabeth. 3.

  21. Compound Words Read and Draw Worksheets

    Read and Draw Compound Words Worksheets. The concept is simple…kids love to draw, and they'll take it anytime they get the opportunity to! That's why we've created this fun set of compound word Read & Draw worksheets. To use, students will read each compound word aloud, then draw and color a picture to match. While it seems quite simple ...

  22. Abstract Compound Words Syllables and Affixes Games and Activities

    These Abstract Compound Words games can transform your word study block into a highly anticipated time of day for students in the Syllables and Affixes stage! With the Socks and Shoes board game and Four In A Row word board activity, you'll be sure to increase student engagement and personal teaching joy during word study, spelling, or word work.

  23. Power of Play: Duke Employees Build Bonds Through Games

    Usually there's one category that's obscure, abstract or wordplay." After some debate, they discover it's "wind" like "a breeze," and it matches with others that are the back-half of compound phrases starting with "second." Second-guess, second-fiddle, ... Word games, crossword puzzles and Sudoku "cross train" the brain ...