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Thread: World-building, world building, or worldbuilding?

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  1. #1
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Northern California

    World-building, world building, or worldbuilding?

    There doesn't seem to be much consensus here.

    Wikipedia uses "worldbuilding":, as does Reedsy.

    Merriam-Webster hyphenates:

    And lots of other random sites use two words.

    Is there a definitive form? If not, what form do you prefer? I like hyphenating, personally.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Cindyt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Bulldog Town
    World-building, world building, or worldbuilding

    I think it's a matter of choice. Grammarly accepts all three.
    You can fix anything but a blank page.--Bonnie Hearn Hill


  3. #3
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    I like hyphenating it: world-building.

    Spellcheck in InDesign flags one word as misspelled and suggests two words. It doesn't suggest hyphenating it, but it also doesn't flag the hyphenated version as misspelled. For what all of that is worth.

    I went through a similar thing the other day with douchenozzle, which, oddly, no one seems to hyphenate, it's either one or two words.
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  4. #4
    illiterate primate Bing Z's Avatar
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    May 2008
    New Jersey
    I also use Merriam-Webster as my primary dictionary. My self-imposed guideline is that if there is an entry in Merriam-Webster, I use its format/style. If it doesn't have it, I check Oxford. Still no, I follow Wikipedia/Wikidictionary.

    In this specific case, I would use "world-building" both because it's in the MW and also because it looks more natural. But if you are after a 'geek' feel, you may want 'worldbuilding.'

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    I've always used worldbuilding. Idk if it depends on compound adjective or not. "The worldbuilding elements" makes more sense to me than "the world building elements" but it's the same in verb form -- the elements of worlbuilding as opposed to the elements of world building. A hyphen works well either way. I'm rambling, but regardless, I wouldn't use two words.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW rgroberts's Avatar
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    Aug 2018
    New England, USA
    I like it as one word, too. It seems to fit better to me, although I wouldn't fault anyone for using either of the other versions.

  7. #7
    Home Again--For Now AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Moving Soon
    Any time there's no agreement on which form of a compound word is accepted, you have choices.
    • Pick your favorite and use it consistently in your ms. Publishers may ask you to change it, but it won't be considered a mistake.
    • Pick a favorite authority and use its recommendation, knowing that many publishers defer to Merriam-Webster, or
    • Choose the one easiest to find in a find-and-replace without hitting false positives, so you can easily make it conform to a future publisher's style.

    Myself, I like the hyphenated version.
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  8. #8
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    One thing about this term - I have always thought of it exclusively as what the writer presents to the reader in the text - and that all the stuff we might do outside of the text is - whatever it is, practice, rough-draft, imagining. But 'world building' for me is what we give the reader so that s/he can immerse in the setting to the degree necessary for the story.
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