Punctuation: Hyphenating “like”

December 15, 2005: Issue 118

We usually don’t hyphenate words that end in “like”: businesslike, paintlike, petallike. But there are three main exceptions:

• Hyphenate when not doing so would result in three l’s in a row: doll-like, wall-like.

• Hyphenate when “like” is joined to a proper noun: Paris-like, Austen-like.

• Hyphenate compound words that could be ambiguous or misunderstood without the hyphen: spa-like, multi-ply, re-creation.

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