Wrong Word Wednesday #70

Every week I demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the word intended. Usually, this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence and sometimes it sounds amusing, other times it sounds embarrassing. Unfortunately, the mistake is so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.
Putting the finishing touches to Dead Heat the other day, I came across a word that made me pause for thought. There are three ways to write:

Make up / Make-up / Makeup

That I had to stop and ask myself whether I had chosen the correct one. They are three different things and all for the difference between a hyphen, a space or no separator.

Makeup is a noun – I had the correct one here. “Kate had her makeup applied this morning.”

Make-up is an adjective – A word describing an attribute of a noun. “The make-up artist applied Kate’s makeup this morning.”

Make up is a verb – “The make-up artist applied Kate’s makeup this morning. The company paid for the basics, but Kate will have to make up the cost of the extras she wanted.”


6 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #70

  1. cjmoseley

    Hmm… Not wanting to open a can of worms again, but I think makeup is a recent American version of make-up (over the last couple of decades the Americans seem to be waging a war on the hyphen).

    Also in your adjective example, when used before the word artist that isn’t technically an adjective, it’s the media the artist works in, which is usually a noun, being used to form a separate compound noun, so we have formations like oil artist, pixel artist, music artist (although artiste is more normal for non-visual arts) , etc. The same thing applies to the art produced (oil painting, pencil sketch, etc). At least that’s my understanding…

    1. No problem, open as many cans of worms as you can. I’m open to being corrected. Actually, it was Word that opened that particular can of worms for me to investigate. makeup, make-up is one of those where it tells you to put a hyphen in and when you put it in it tells you to take it out again.

      The sources I used were not clear and I was in two minds about putting this one in because none of them could make up their mind. I guess I’m also scraping the bottom of the barrel as I come to the end of my list.

      I think you’re right about the “… artist”. It’s one of those odd ones.

  2. Sabina

    I hardly ever see make-up. Maybe it’s an American thing, maybe the hyphenated version is out of style now, but regardless I’m pretty sure makeup is standard. The important distinction is the space for the noun.

    1. Sabina

      The space for the verb. Ugh. Never get up early.

      1. I hear you! It usually takes me about an hour to wake up in the mornings too. I need my coffee and shower before I settle down to work.

  3. Peter Chabanowich

    When the can of worms foil the Pandora in you, alternatives are key.
    Painting the mask.
    Ah, but you know this.

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