User Tools

Site Tools


« Dictionary Index « Definitions under D


There are practical rules in printing for dividing words where the whole of a word cannot be comprised within the line; and there are also grammatical rules for the same object. Every printing office has some peculiarity on this subject.

The most general practical method of dividing words is to preserve the primitive word at the end of a line, and carry the termination to the next line; but this cannot always be done, as the following few instances will show. In these and similar cases it will be better to avoid dividing the word, and either drive the whole out, or get the termination in, as the spacing of the line will best allow.

  • air-y
  • brace-d
  • brawn-y
  • bulge-d
  • carve-d
  • cause-d
  • change-d
  • charge-d
  • chose-n
  • chuff-y
  • cleave-r
  • cloud-y
  • craft-y
  • crust-y
  • curve-d
  • date-d
  • dew-y
  • earth-y
  • give-n
  • gloom-y
  • judge-d
  • lapse-d
  • large-st
  • love-r
  • luck-y
  • make-r
  • might-y
  • nest-le
  • part-y
  • plate-d
  • rate-d
  • rhime-r
  • safe-r
  • scrape-r
  • strange-r
  • tame-d
  • tease-d
  • tune-r
  • vote-r
  • write-r

Words whose plurals are formed by the addition of s, which adds another syllable to them, by making the last into two, ought not to have these two syllables divided; such as ——

  • accom-plices
  • acquaint-ances
  • advan-tages
  • allow-ances
  • appear-ances
  • arti-fices
  • bene-fices
  • cogni-zances
  • conni-vances
  • conse-quences
  • differ-ences
  • discord-ances
  • disturb-ances
  • embas-sages
  • enter-prises
  • equi-pages
  • evi-dences
  • exer-cises
  • frontis-pieces
  • hinder-ances
  • observ-ances
  • occur-rences
  • over-charges
  • perform-ances
  • petu-lances
  • post-offices
  • preci-pices
  • prefer-ences
  • privi-leges
  • quintes-sences
  • recom-pences
  • redun-dances
  • reli-ances
  • resem-blances
  • resi-dences
  • sen-tences

The terminations of words, chion, cial, cient, cion, cious, shion, sian, sion, tial, tion, and tious, ought never, in my opinion, to be divided, as they each form one sound, although Murray and Walker say they form two syllables.

When the primitive word cannot be retained at the end of a line, I would prefer the prefixes ab, ac, ad, al, anti, be, bi, co, com, con, de, di, dia, dis, en, in, per, pre, pro, re, sub, super, un, when words in which they occur require to be divided; provided it does not cause any great violence in the spacing.

When it is necessary to divide a word at the end of a line, it is also necessary to study the appearance of the termination of that line, as well as of the commencement of the succeeding line, for they are equally affected. An improper division of a word will sometimes look better than a proper one, but it ought always to be avoided, if possible.

It frequently happens that the last syllable, when it is short, has a meagre appearance at the beginning of a line; when this is the case, it is preferable to drive out another syllable, provided the appearance and the correctness of the first part of the word are not compromised.

It is not usual, and is looked on as bad workmanship, to divide a word with a single letter at the end of a line, for it may be driven out, or, if the line be wide spaced, the next syllable may be got in; but should the second syllable of the word be a long one, or the last syllable a very short one it will then be advisable to overrun a preceding line or two, to get rid of the objectionable division.

Neither is it usual to carry over the last syllable of a word if it consist of two thin letters only; for the hyphen is more than equal to one of them, and changing two or three spaces will make room for the other, without affecting the appearance.

Some persons object to the dividing of words at all in printing, as being unnecessary and displeasing to the eye; but then they must sacrifice all regularity of spacing, which is still worse, and has the appearance of bad workmanship. I would recommend that a compositor should make each give way a little to the other, always preserving such an uniformity in spacing that there should be no glaring disproportion in different lines.

Avoid dividing words in lines following each other, so as not to have hyphens at the ends of two adjoining lines, but never have three or more divided words at the ends of consecutive lines; although five or six may occasionally be seen, yet in book work it is held to be bad workmanship, and should never be allowed to pass. Neither is it desirable to divide proper names, nor the last word in a page so as to have part of a word to begin the succeeding page, particularly when it is an even one; sums of money and series of figures are never divided.

It is not possible in every instance to divide words correctly, particularly when the page is of a narrow measure, and the type large; when this happens, the compositor is obliged frequently to sacrifice correctness to necessity; but when the page is of a width proportionate to the size of the type, he may in the usual way of workmanship preserve his regular spacing, and also his correct dividing.

The preceding observations may be looked on as practical ones for printing. Lindley Murray gives the following grammatical directions for dividing words.

  1. “A single consonant between two vowels must be joined to the latter syllable: as, de-light, bri-dal, re-source: except the letter x; as, ex-ist, ex-amine: and except likewise words compounded; as, up-on, un-even, dis-ease.
  2. “Two consonants proper to begin a word, must not be separated; as, fa-ble, sti-fle. But when they come between two vowels, and are such as cannot begin a word, they must be divided; as, ut-most, un-der, in-sect, er-ror, cof-fin.
    “If the preceding syllable is short, the consonants must be separated: as, cus-tard, pub-lic, gos-ling.
  3. “When three consonants meet in the middle of a word, if they can begin a word, and the preceding vowel be pronounced long, they are not to be separated; as, de-throne, de-stroy. But when the vowel of the preceding syllable is pronounced short, one of the consonants always belongs to that syllable; as, dis-tract, dis-prove, dis-train.
  4. “When three or four consonants, which are not proper to begin a word, meet between two vowels, the first consonant is always kept with the first syllable in the division: as, ab-stain, com-plete, em-broil, dan-dler, dap-ple, con-strain.
  5. “Two vowels, not being a diphthong, must be divided into separate syllables; as, cru-el, deni-al, soci-ety.
    “A diphthong immediately preceding a vowel, is to be separated from it: as, roy-al, pow-er, jew-el.
  6. “Compounded words must be traced into the simple words of which they are composed; as, ice-house, glow-worm, over-power, never-the-less.
  7. “Grammatical, and other particular terminations, are generally separated: as, teach-est, teach-eth, teach-ing, teach-er, contend-est, great-er, wretch-ed, good-ness, free-dom, false-hood.
    “Two consonants which form but one sound, are never separated: as, e-cho, fa-ther, pro-phet, an-chor, bi-shop. They are to be considered as a single letter.
  8. “In derivative words, the additional syllables are separated: as, sweet-er, sweet-est, sweet-ly; learn-ed, learn-eth, learn-ing; dis-like, mis-lead, un-even; call-ed, roll-er, dress-ing; gold-en, bolt-ed, be-liever, pleas-ing.

Exceptions. When the derivative word doubles the single letter of the primitive, one of those letters is joined to the termination: as, beg, beg-gar; fat, fat-ter; bid, bid-ding.

“When the additional syllable is preceded by c or g soft, the c or g, is added to that syllable: as, of-fen-ces, cotta-ges, pro-noun-cer, in-dul-ging; ra-cer, fa-cing, spi-ced; wa-ger, ra-ging, pla-ced, ran-ger, chan-ging, chan-ged.

“When the preceding single vowel is long, the consonant, if single, is joined to the termination: as, ba-ker, ba-king; ho-ping, bro-ken; po-ker, bo-ny; wri-ter, sla-vish; mu-sed, sa-ved.

“The termination y is not to be placed alone: as, san-dy, gras-sy; dir-ty, dus-ty; mos-sy, fros-ty; hea-dy, woo-dy; except, dough-y, snow-y, string-y, and a few other words. But even in these exceptions, it would be proper to avoid beginning a line with the termination y.

” Some of the preceding rules may be liable to considerable exceptions; and therefore it is said by Dr. Lowth and others, that the best and easiest directions for dividing the syllables in spelling, is to divide them as they are naturally separated in a right pronunciation, without regard to the derivation of words, or the possible combination of consonants at the beginning of a syllable.”

Before quitting this subject, it should be stated that there is yet a mode of dividing, which is peculiar to the philologist. To him it appears but natural that a compounded word should be divided at the point where its elements were originally conjoined. With respect, to a purely English compound we find this to be one of Murray's rules; but in an adopted word, however much from its recurrence it may seem to have become our own, the scholar's eye is offended, if, where a division has become requisite, it be made in violation of etymological principles.

This remark must be understood as having reference only to the division which would occur in the neighbourhood of the point of junction: in other respects he does not impugn the validity of the rules which are in general laid down. To apply with precision this principle, which, when judiciously practised, is frequently very highly approved, it is evident that an acquaintance with the language from which the imported word has been derived, is necessary; yet, as a person not thus qualified may occasionally be required to make his divisions in conformity with this system, it has been thought desirable to subjoin a brief list of words in which an uninitiated person would be most likely to err.

A few of the following divisions will appear a little startling, and they are in consequence generally evaded; but it has been thought proper in this place to conceal nothing from the general eye which may appear to militate against the full adoption of the system. The words selected are but a few of the very large class of compounds; but the rest have been omitted, as their analytical and their syllabical divisions will in general be found to coincide.

  • abs-cess
  • ab-scind
  • ab-scission
  • abs-cond
  • ab-solve
  • abs-tain
  • abs-terge
  • abs-tinence
  • abs-tract
  • abs-truse
  • ab-use
  • ad-opt
  • ad- ore
  • ad-ust
  • aero-scopy
  • aero-static
  • amb-ient
  • amb-ition
  • an-archy
  • ana-stomosis
  • ana-strophe
  • anim-advert
  • an-other
  • ant-agonist
  • ant-arctic
  • anti-strophe
  • ant-onomasia
  • apo-phthegm
  • apo-state
  • apo-stle
  • apo-strophe
  • armi-stice
  • atmo-sphere
  • au-spicious
  • aut-opsy
  • baro-scope
  • bin-ocular
  • cat-acoustic
  • cata-strophe
  • cat-echism
  • cat-optrical
  • chir-urgeon
  • co-gnate
  • cyn-anthropy
  • de-scend
  • de-scribe
  • de-sperado
  • de-sperate
  • de-spicable
  • de-spise
  • de-spoil
  • de-spond
  • de-sponsate
  • de-spumation
  • de-stitute
  • de-stroy
  • de-struction
  • dia-gnostic
  • dia-stole
  • di-phthong
  • di-ptote
  • di-scind
  • dis-pend
  • di-sperse
  • di-spirit
  • di-spread
  • di-stich
  • di-stil
  • di-strain
  • epi-scopal
  • epi-stle
  • fronti-spice 1)
  • gastro-cnemius
  • go-spel
  • hemi-sphere
  • hemi-stich
  • hept-archy
  • herm-aphrodite
  • hier-archy
  • horo-scope
  • hypo-stasis
  • in-iquity
  • (i. e. in-equity)
  • inter-stice
  • iso-sceles
  • log-arithms
  • lyc-anthropy
  • man-oeuvre
  • meta-stasis
  • met-onomy
  • micro-scope
  • mis-anthropy
  • miso-gyny
  • mon-arch
  • mon-ocular
  • mon-ody
  • mono-ptote
  • mult-ocular
  • neg-lect
  • ne-science
  • non-age
  • ob-struct
  • omni-sciehce
  • palin-ode
  • pan-oply
  • pen-insula
  • penta-ptote
  • pen-ultima
  • pen-umbra
  • per-emptory
  • per-ennial
  • per-ish
  • per-spire
  • per- use
  • phil-anthropy
  • plani-sphere
  • pot-sherd
  • pre-science
  • pre-scind
  • pro-gnosticate
  • pro-scribe
  • pro-spect
  • pro-sperous
  • pro-stitute
  • pro-strate
  • rect-angle
  • re-scind
  • called Visorum
  • re-script
  • re-spect
  • re-spire
  • re-splendent
  • re-spond
  • re-stitution
  • re-store
  • re-strain
  • re-stringent
  • retro-spect
  • se-gregate
  • sol-stice
  • spher-oid
  • su-spect
  • sym-ptom
  • syn-onymous
  • syn-opsis
  • sy-stole
  • tele-scope
  • terr-aqueous
  • trans-act
  • tran-scend
  • tran-scribe
  • trans-ient
  • tran-silience
  • trans-itory
  • trans-parent
  • tran-spire
  • trans-port
  • trans-pose
  • tran-sude
  • tri-phthong
  • tri-ptote
  • vin-egar
  • un-animous

First PagePrevious PageNext PageLast Page

frontispiece. This word has had the singular fortune of having been all but universally mis-spelt; having in its present form the appearance of being what is inadmissible — the compound of a Latin and an English word. A few years ago an ingenious critic, in a work which he published, corrected this spelling by writing the word “frontispice.” As the word comes immediately from frontispicium, the emendation appears to have been judiciously made. (Compare auspicefiora auspicium = avispicium.) It may not be unnecessary also to observe, that the amended form is that in which it appears in the French language. The division of the corrected word would be as shown here.