Compound Nouns: 110+ Common Compound Nouns in English

Last Updated on November 14, 2023

Compound nouns are an important aspect of language that allow us to combine multiple words to create a single noun. They are commonly used in everyday speech and writing, but can be challenging for language learners to master. In this article, we will explore what compound nouns are, their types, how to form them, and provide examples to help you better understand their usage. 

Understanding Compound Nouns

Compound Nouns: 110+ Common Compound Nouns in EnglishPin

Compound nouns are formed by combining two or more words to create a single noun. Typically, they are made up of nouns that have been modified by adjectives or other nouns. The different types of compound nouns include closed, hyphenated, and open.

Closed compound nouns are formed by joining two words together without any space or hyphen. They act as a single unit in a sentence. Examples of closed compound nouns are:

Hyphenated compound nouns are created by connecting two or more words with a hyphen. The hyphen helps to clarify the relationship between the words and emphasize their individual meanings. Examples of hyphenated compound nouns are:

  • Father-in-law
  • Check-in
  • X-ray

Open compound nouns consist of two or more separate words that function as a single unit. They are used as a single noun in a sentence, despite not being attached by a hyphen or merged together. Examples of open compound nouns are:

  • Ice cream
  • Full moon
  • Post office

It’s crucial to recognize compound nouns, as they function as a single word in a sentence and can be modified by adjectives and other nouns. When writing, it’s important to choose the correct form of the compound noun, as they may sometimes be spelt differently when used as separate words or adjectives.

Ways To Form a Compound Noun

Compound nouns are nouns that are made with two or more words. Here are 08 ways to form a compound noun in English.

  • Noun + Noun:  girlfriend, greenhouse, football, grandmother, homework, teacup, friendship, etc.
  • Noun + Verb:  heartbeat, sunrise, raindrop, handmade, haircut, etc.
  • Adjective + Noun: blackboard, greenhouse, highway, etc.
  • Adverb + Noun: online, overdue, overdose, outside, outdoor, etc.
  • Verb + Noun: washing machine, swimming pool, etc.
  • Adverb + Verb: output, intake, etc.
  • Verb + Adverb : takeover, etc.
  • Adverb + Noun: upstairs, downstairs, etc.

List of Common Compound Nouns in English

  • Anymore
  • Anyplace
  • Anything
  • Anywhere
  • Airline
  • Airport
  • Aircraft
  • Armchair
  • Boyfriend
  • Battlefield
  • Background
  • Basketball
  • Battleship
  • Backache
  • Birthday
  • Blackboard
  • Bookshelf
  • Bookworm
  • Booklet
  • Breakfast
  • Brainstorm
  • Briefcase
  • Butterfly
  • Countdown
  • Comeback
  • Carpet
  • Cowboy
  • Cupboard
  • Chopstick
  • Classmate
  • Daredevil
  • Dishwasher
  • Dishwater
  • Doorstop
  • Doorway
  • Daydream
  • Dragonfly
  • Everybody
  • Everything
  • Earrings
  • Eyeglasses
  • Eyeball
  • Evergreen
  • Everybody
  • Everyday
  • Fingerprint
  • Fireworks
  • Football
  • Footprint
  • Forecast
  • Friendship
  • Gentleman
  • Goldfish
  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother
  • Grasshopper
  • Greenhouse
  • Hallway
  • Handcuff
  • Haircut
  • Headache
  • Heartbeat
  • Handmade
  • Highway
  • Homework
  • Horsefly
  • Houseboat
  • Inside
  • Ladybug
  • Landlady
  • Leadership
  • Lighthouse
  • Lifespan
  • Moonlight
  • Myself
  • Notebook
  • Newspaper
  • Nobody
  • Onset
  • Outside
  • Overboard
  • Overdose
  • Overdue
  • Pancake
  • Partnership
  • Photocopy
  • Policeman
  • Popcorn
  • Postman
  • Railway
  • Rainbow
  • Raindrops
  • Raincoat
  • Rattlesnake
  • Ringworm
  • Sandbags
  • Seafood
  • Seashore
  • Skateboard
  • Skyscraper
  • Sandcastle
  • Snowboard
  • Southeast
  • Starlight
  • Strawberry
  • Sunlight
  • Sunshine
  • Teardrop
  • Teacup
  • Teapot
  • Thunderstorm
  • Timetable
  • Toolbox
  • Waterproof
  • Wardrobe
  • Weekend
  • Yourself
  • Self-esteem
  • Mother-in-law
  • Brother-in-law
  • Father-in-law
  • Well-being
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-improvement
  • High-rise
  • Mind-set
  • Heart attack
  • World view
  • Record holder
  • Decision-making
  • Energy drink
  • Labor union
  • Earthquake
  • Groundwater

Pluralizing Compound Nouns

For most compound nouns, pluralizing the principal word in the compound (e.g., passers-by, mothers-in-law) is the standard rule. However, the principle differs slightly in cases of single-word compound nouns or those in the format [verb] – [preposition]. In such cases, the endings mutate to pluralize the word.

There are some irregular compound nouns where pluralization rules deviate from the standard. For example, the plural form of “man-of-war” is “men-of-war”, and “fireman” becomes “firemen.” Some irregular compound nouns retain their singular form in both singular and plural usage, such as aircraft, spacecraft, and headquarters.

Here are some examples of pluralizing compound nouns:

Closed compound nouns:

  • Toothbrush -> Toothbrushes
  • Bookshelf -> Bookshelves

Open compound nouns:

  • Bus stop -> Bus stops
  • Roommate -> Roommates

Hyphenated compound nouns:

  • Sister-in-law -> Sisters-in-law
  • Head-on collision -> Head-on collisions

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common examples of compound nouns?

Compound nouns are prevalent in everyday English. Some common examples include toothpaste, basketball, greenhouse, and mailbox. These words are formed by combining two or more individual nouns to represent a single concept or idea.

How are compound nouns formed?

Compound nouns can be created in several ways, such as by combining two separate words (e.g., ice cream), joining words with a hyphen (e.g., mother-in-law), or blending words into a single word (e.g., basketball). The process results in a new term that represents a single idea or object, often with a more specific meaning than its individual parts.

What are the rules for stressing compound nouns?

In English, compound nouns generally have primary stress on the first word or syllable, with secondary stress on the second word or subsequent syllables. This stress pattern helps differentiate compound nouns from phrases where the stress might fall on each word equally or differently. For example, ‘greenhouse’ as a compound noun is stressed on the first syllable, whereas the phrase ‘green house’ would have equal stress on each word.

How does grammar affect compound nouns?

Grammar plays a crucial role in understanding and using compound nouns correctly. For example, compound nouns often follow specific plural rules, such as adding an ‘s’ to the first word in the compound like “brothers-in-law” instead of “brother-in-laws.” Additionally, verb agreement with compound nouns can depend on whether the compound noun is considered singular or plural. It’s essential to learn and apply these grammatical rules to use compound nouns effectively.

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28 thoughts on “Compound Nouns: 110+ Common Compound Nouns in English”

    • Yes, “overthrow” is indeed a compound word! It’s formed by combining two separate words, “over” and “throw,” to create a new word with its own unique meaning. In this case, “overthrow” refers to the act of removing someone from power, often by force.

  1. Q1. IDENTIFY and UNDERLINE the compound words, examine their stress patterns and CIRCLE
    the syllable that carries the compound stress.
    My in-laws are real troublemakers. For example, Mary, my niece who insists that she cannot
    eat any seafood and dairy products such as cream cheese, actually has no allergy.

    Q2. Mark the FOUR possible oral pauses in the sentence below with a vertical line ( | ).
    Please place all the towels that you would like to keep on the towel rail and those you would like
    to be changed in the bathtub.


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