As you are probably aware, our contemporary English content is now available through (, and our old English dictionary site no longer exists.

As a result of this, this forum is now closed.

The English dictionary community team would like the opportunity to say a huge thanks to all of you who participated by posting questions and helping other community members.
We hope this forum was useful, and that you enjoyed being a part of it.

If you would like to get in touch with any OED-related queries, please write to
[email protected]

And if you would like to contribute suggestions to the OED, please do so by visiting:

Thank you very much indeed, and good bye!
The community team


I have come across the word 'mediumweight' in connection with frabrics and gloves. However, I wonder if it is correct to write it as one word or if it ought to be written as two words or hyphenised, i.e. 'medium weight' or 'medium-weight'.


  • Hello @norwegianblue. It's tricky to answer you properly as this one isn't in our dictionaries yet, but something to bear in mind is that although standard spelling in English is fixed, the use of hyphenation is not. Hopefully the following will be of help!

    There is no set rule saying whether, for example, airstream, air stream, or air-stream is correct. All forms are found in use: all are recorded in the Oxford English Corpus and other standard texts. However, there is a broad tendency to avoid hyphenation for noun compounds in modern English (except when used to show grammatical function), so there is, for example, a preference in both British and American English for airstream rather than air-stream and for air raid rather than air-raid. There is an additional preference in US English for the form to be one word and in British English for the form to be two words, e.g. pay day tends to be the commonest form in British English, while payday tends to be the commonest form in US English.

    The form we give for a headword in the dictionary is usually the most commonly found one, according to our evidence. This does not, however, imply that other forms are incorrect or not used.

    That is a very long answer! The short answer is that if you are using British English, you would probably use medium weight, and if you are using US English you would probably use mediumweight.

  • edited February 2018

    Thank you!

    This may answer my next question as well. I was going to ask whether "cut resistant" to describe, for instance, a protective glove, should be "cut-resistant" or "cut resistant". May one freely choose either form?

    What about "award winning" vs "award-winning"?

  • Hi @norwegianblue,

    It would probably be advisable to consult a dictionary, for example, before playing too fast and loose with compound forms. The issue is that while many forms may be used frequently and many more will be accepted without question, some nevertheless are as dead as the parrot your username alludes to.

    Therefore "award willing" (broken) is fairly standard and "award-winning" (hyphen broken) hasn't really caught on but probably wouldn't upset too many people. However, "cut resistant" is a bit more problematic, not because of the syntax, but because is isn't a familiar compound in any of its possible forms. We are more familiar with "tear resistant" ripstop materials (is that what you were thinking of?), where "tear" has a subtle semantic implication of accidental damage, compared with "cut" which has a more deliberate nuance.

    If you were trying to imply that the gloves in question protect the wearer against cuts (as opposed to the material being resistant to accidental damage) then, in English, is is more usual to say something like "protective", to refer to the thickness/durability of the material, or to suggest the purpose ("gardening gloves", "safety gloves"). One last somewhat extreme synonym would be "armoured" but this is more suggestive of a gauntlet on a medieval suit of armour.

Sign In or Register to comment.