Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission.
First, what are compound words, and what are the 3 types of compound words?
Compound Definition/Compound Words Definition
A compound is a noun, an adjective or a verb made of two or more words, written as one or more words. A compound word can be closed ( for example, seafood), open for example, water ice) or hyphenated (for example, first-class).
- Closed compound words form one single word.
- Open compound words are spelled as two separate words.
- Hyphenated compound words are joined by a hyphen.
English Compound Words Examples/Compound Words List
- Closed compound words: Seafood, outcome, overcome, worksheet, downpour, seabird, sunflower, skincare, proofread, etc.
- Open compound words: Water ice, big hair, high school, dining table, dining room, etc.
- Hyphenated compound words: big-hearted, big-headed, self-actualization, well-known, well-cooked, etc.
List of compound words
The following compound words lists are not comprehensive.
Compound Words: Compound Adjectives list
A compound adjective (also called compound modifier) is made up of two or more words that work jointly to modify the same noun. When compound adjectives are used before the noun they modify, they are usually hyphenated (joined together by a hyphen).
Compound adjectives whose first part is self are hyphenated as well. The words joined together by a hyphen are also known as hyphenated words.
Here is a hyphenated adjectives list:
- He is a well-off businessman.
- He belongs to a well-off family.
- His father is well off.
- She is a well-known writer.
- Stephen R. Covey is well known.
- Self-aware = self-conscious
Compound adjectives can be created by joining multiple words; they can be in different combinations. Compound adjectives can be made up of adjectives, nouns, participles, quantifiers, and adverbs.
Here are some examples of the various combinations that we can make to come up with compound adjectives:
Compound adjectives lists:
- Adjective + Adjective: Top-right, top-left, blue-green, etc.
- Adjective + Noun: Part-time, full-time, good-time, etc.
- Noun + Adjective: Sugar-free, ice-cold, duty-free, homesick, etc.
As you can notice above we combine different parts of speech to create a new word.
Present and past participles can be joined with adjectives, nouns, and adverbs to make compound adjectives:
- Adjective + participle: Good-looking, hard-working, nice-looking, old-fashioned, open-minded, big-hearted, absent-minded, etc.
- Noun + participle: record-breaking, mouth-watering, human being, man-sized, home-made,
- Adverb + participle: Well-known, well-oiled, well rounded, badly-written, well-written, well-paid, dimly-lit, brightly-lit, early-rising, well-running,
Prepositions can also be employed to form compound adjectives:
- up-to-date laptops.
- a broken-down car.
- a beaten-up old truck.
- built-up areas.
- a cashed-up businesswoman.
- a built-in cupboard.
- a clapped out machine ( old and in bad condition)
Another way to form compound adjectives is to join a quantifier and a noun.
- A five-star hotel.
- A three-floor building.
- A three-storey building.
- A fifteen-year-old teenager.
A compound adjective with a number never takes the ‘s’ of the plural.
- There are 3 five-star hotels in this city.
- 10 three-floor buildings.
Compound Words: Compound adjectives to describe a person or something
Compound adjectives for character ( Compound adjectives personality) are usually used to describe people’s personality or character. The adjectives list below contains a number of compound adjectives tha can describe character. The other compoud adjectives can be used to describe something or someone not someone’s personality.
Compound Adjectives Examples
Hard-working is a compound adjective example
Here is a list of compound adjectives with self along with meaning
you have confidence in your own abilities.
behave in a quiet and polite way.
interested only in yourself.
uncomfortable or nervous because you are worried about what other people think about you or your behavior.
a self-absorbed person is a person who is concerned about or interested in himself/herself.
If an envelpoe is self-addressed, someone has written his/her own address on it.
It can be stuck to something without the use glue, etc.
Acting of or by itself.
A self appointed president is a president who has apointed himself/herself without the greement of his/her people.
- Self-assembly (esp, furniture)
Bought in several parts that you have to put together yourself.
A self-assertive man is a man who is very confident and not afraid to express his opinion about something or someone.
Having one colour all over.
Admitting that you have done something, especially something bad.
- Self-contained (= independent)
If you are a self-contained woman, you don’t depend on other people or you do not need them.
Containing two statements or ideas that connot both be true.
That can adjust or correct itself by itself.
A self-critical person criticises himself/herself.
If a plan is self-defeating, it contains elements that will cause it to fail.
A self-drive car is a car that you hire and drive by yourself.
Without concern for one’s own advantage; selfless.
A self-effacing man is a modest and does not want to attract attention to himeself or his abilities.
If you are self-employed, you work for yourself and are not employed by a company, a person, etc.
Obvious and does not need further explanation or proof.
Easy to understand and does not nee any more explanation.
A slef-important person thinks that he/she is more important than others.
Other compound adjectives describing character
always doing a lot of work.
naturally friendly and does not get angry easily.
too sure about yourself and your abilities.
very determined to do what you want to do.
not determined enough to succeed in what you want to do.
somebody who is strong-minded is not willing to change their opinions and beliefs.
happy to accept ideas and ways of life different to your own.
willing to accept opinions and ideas which are different from yours.
not willing to accept ideas or ways of behaving that are different from your own.
often annoyed, angry, or impatient.
if someone is short-tempered, he or she gets angry easily for no good reason.
calm and relaxed; not easily worried or upset.
you think you are more intelligent or more important than you really are.
if you are thick-skinned, you are not easily hurt by criticism.
if you are cold-hearted, you don’t feel sorry about other people’s suffering.
- Level headed
Calm and sensible; able to make good decisions even in difficult situations.
- Laid-back: You are not usually worried about other people’s behavior or things that need to be done.
These compound adjectives describing character traits are really interesting. So, which compound adjectives describe your personality?
Do this character adjectives quiz here to test your knowledge of compound adjectives.
Definition for compound noun
What is a compound noun? How do you make a compound noun? What are compound nouns?
A compound noun refers to a noun that is composed of two or more words. These compound words work together as a single unit to name a place, a person, or a thing. Compound nouns are usually created by joining two nouns or an adjective and a noun together (adjective+noun) (noun+adjective) (adjective+adjective), etc.
Compound nouns types
There are 3 types of compound nouns, namely open compound nouns. They are written as separate words ( living room, swimming pool, secretary general, etc.), closed compound nouns. They are written as one single word (blackbird, policeman, makeup, etc.), and hyphenated compound words (mother-in-law, father-in-law, check-in, etc.)
Compound Noun Examples
Here is a compound nouns list
20 + examples of compound nouns
There are different combinations of compound nouns, but they are usually combined this way: (noun + noun) (adjective + noun), (noun + adjective), (verb + noun), etc.
- Football (noun + noun)
- Living room
- Dining room
- Bus stop
- Whiteboard ( adjective + noun)
- Mobile phone
- Full moon
- Full board
- Check-in ( verb + preposition)
- Sunrise (noun + verb)
Tip: To turn compound nouns into the plural, we usually add ‘s’, ‘es’ or ‘ies’ to the main word of the compound noun.
The main word is usually the second word, but there are exceptions.
A bookcase bookcases
A bedroom bedrooms
A handbag handbags
A website websites
A father-in-law fathers-in-law
A secretary general secretaries general
A passerby passers-by
We believe that this post is good for learners of English who want to broaden their knowledge of compound words. It can even be used by teachers to teach compound words.
Compound words video
Noun+noun compound nouns
Noun+adjective compound nouns
Here, you’ll find very important words that describe appearance.
Other useful links:
- The definite article in English
- Short stories with morals
Learn English online with Englishdotcom
What's the difference between would prefer and prefer? How do you use would prefer? How do you use prefer? As a general rule, both would prefer and prefer are used to express preference. Would...
There are different types of verbs in English. Linking verbs, auxiliary verbs, action verbs, state verbs, etc. Is Are a Verb or Not? Are is a verb. Are is a form of the verb be. Are is used...