Have you ever come across a word that you’re unsure if it’s one word or two, hyphenated or not?
Here is one for you: wellbeing, well-being, or well being. Which would you choose?
Well-being is one of those tricky words that can easily slow me down while I’m writing. So which is correct? Here, let’s go through this together.
It’s definitely not well being—you have to trust me on this one until I can explain later. Now, from the two other options that are left, I bet some of you will say that the correct spelling is wellbeing, while others will choose well-being.
What if I told you that only one is correct? Would you be surprised? Would you agree, or would you research it? I don’t take anything for granted. I usually take the time to explore a word’s spelling and etymology.
When my step-daughter, Ashley, read my blog last week, she rushed to correct me and said that the word should be hyphenated, well-being. Hmmm, I thought and then asked my editor, who got back to me with a different opinion: “It’s one word, wellbeing,” she said.
My editor has many years of experience and she also teaches creative writing. Naturally, I should go with her advice. However, since my step-daughter, Ashley, has a B.A. in English and a double master’s, one of which is in print journalism, I couldn’t easily ignore her comment.
This morning, while on my early 45-minute walk, it hit me again. I started thinking about you, my readers, who might have this same question as well. I couldn’t just let it go; I had to search further. As soon as I returned home, I was on it.
Here is all you need to know about this word:
Well-being is a noun. The best synonyms that I can think of for it are wellness and good health. It is an old word, in use for almost five centuries. Well-being has never morphed into a single word. That covers the wellbeing option.
And why is well being wrong? Because while these two can appear next to each other in one sentence, they will not convey the same meaning as well-being. While separate, the well is an adjective and the being is a verb. To form a noun, they must be hyphenated. And like I said, well-being is a noun. So the hyphen is a must.
I know how easy it is to be a victim of the infinite loop of the Spelling & Grammar tool in Microsoft Word. It happens to me frequently. My spell check still underlines all my well-beings with an ugly green line, suggesting that I write well being or wellbeing. Still, I don’t turn this tool off. I ignore the spell check and search when necessary. Especially with this kind of outcome, it’s a wonderful feeling to be proud of your child who was the one to correct you! I guess paying graduate school tuition was worth it. LOL.
Good job, Ashley. I am proud of you!
By the way, have you noticed my progress? I already survived a 45-minute walk, which is 15 minutes longer than my first walk days ago. How about you? Were you able to add more minutes to your walk?
Would you agree that this falls into #hyphenhell? Hopefully, you will find this blog helpful rather than confusing.