Compound Words: 50 + Important Compound Adjectives and Nouns

Compound Words in English

compound words

Compound Word Definition

First, what is a compound word and what are the 3 types of compound words?

A compound word in the English language is formed from two or more words. Compound words can be closed ( for example, seafood), open for example, water ice) or hyphenated (for example, first-class).

  1. Closed compound words form one single word.
  2. Open compound words are spelled as two separate words.
  3. Hyphenated compound words are joined by a hyphen.

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.
compound words
Compound words

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-absorbed
  • Self-aware = self-conscious
  • Self-confident
  • Self-contained
  • Self-critical
  • Self-educated
  • Self-imposed

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:  Character Adjectives (compound adjectives to describe a person)

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 describing character.

Compound adjectives with self

  • Self-assured: you have confidence in your own abilities.
  • Well-behaved: behave in a quiet and polite way.
  • Self-centered: interested only in yourself.
  • Self-conscious: uncomfortable or nervous because you are worried about what other people think about you or your behavior.

Other compound adjectives describing character

  • Hard-working: always doing a lot of work.
  • Good-natured: naturally friendly and does not get angry easily.
  • Over-confident: too sure about yourself and your abilities.
  • Strong-willed: very determined to do what you want to do.
  • Weak-willed: not determined enough to succeed in what you want to do.
  • Strong-minded: somebody who is strong-minded is not willing to change their opinions and beliefs.
  • Broad-minded: happy to accept ideas and ways of life different to your own.
  • Open-minded: willing to accept opinions and ideas which are different from yours.
  • Narrow-minded: not willing to accept ideas or ways of behaving that are different from your own.
  • Bad-tempered: often annoyed, angry, or impatient.
  • Short-tempered: if someone is short-tempered, he or she gets angry easily for no good reason.
  • Easy-going: calm and relaxed; not easily worried or upset.
  • Big-headed: you think you are more intelligent or more important than you really are.
  • Thick-skinned: if you are thick-skinned, you are not easily hurt by criticism.
  • Cold-hearted: 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.

Compound Nouns

Definition for compound noun

What is a compound noun? How do you make a compound noun?

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.

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

compound words

Here is a compound nouns list

  • Football (noun + noun)
  • Snowman
  • Sunflower
  • Dragonfly
  • Seafood
  • Bookcase
  • Toothpaste
  • Backpack
  • Living room
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Dining room
  • Bathtub
  • Website
  • Policeman
  • Policewoman
  • Watercolor
  • Bus stop
  • Handbag
  • Whiteboard ( adjective + noun)
  • Blackboard
  • Blackbird
  • Greenhouse
  • Greenpeace
  • Software
  • Mobile phone
  • Full moon
  • Full board
  • Blackberry
  • Check-in ( verb + preposition)
  • Checkout
  • Makeup
  • lookout
  • Drawback
  • Fall-off
  • Falling-out
  • Fill-up
  • Sunrise (noun + verb)
  • Sunset
  • Haircut
  • Rainfall

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

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

Here, you’ll find very important words that describe appearance.

For more English vocabulary check this useful link.

Other useful links:

  1. The definite article in English
  2. Short stories with morals
  3. Best language learning quotes

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