List of Compound Words: 230+ Compound Words To Improve Your Vocabulary

Learn about word dissection and improve your vocabulary with our list of compound words.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of compound words to help you improve your vocabulary. Whether you’re writing academic papers or web content, there is an almost inexhaustible resource of words you can use to communicate your ideas effectively. 

What Are Compound Words?

List of compound words
List of compound words

Compound words are two or more words combined together to form a single word with a different meaning. They can be any type of word, from nouns and verbs to adjectives, adverbs, and propositions.

Compound words are not the same as contraction words, which combine multiple words to create a shorter term. Check out our list of contraction words to see examples.

List of Compound Words

List of compound words

Common Compound Words

Let’s start with a short list of common compound words. As you’re about to see, these compound words are as simple as they come. They’re made by combining two words, and their combined meaning is not far from their original definition.

They are closed and have no spaces between the words they consist of (i.e., barefoot). Closed compound words can function as nouns, verbs, pronouns, prepositions, adjectives, and conjunctions.

  1. Antedate

Their culture antedates the arrival of Christopher Columbus. 

  1. Background

Your PC is slow because you have a bunch of applications running in the background.

  1. Biweekly

For the time being, she needs to have biweekly health checkups.

  1. Blowout

He ran over a piece of metal on the freeway and had a blowout necessitating a tyre change.

  1. Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

  1. Bookkeeping

New cash registers will solve most of our bookkeeping problems in trade.

  1. Cardboard

There’s nothing left in the garage, just a couple of cardboard boxes with toys and old clothes.

  1. Chickpea

For the main course, they had roasted monkfish served with chickpeas and cherry tomatoes.

  1. Clockwise

Turn the knob clockwise to turn the machine on.

  1. Cupboard

You can find the broom in the cupboard below the stairs.

  1. Daylight

The early morning daylight shone through the bedroom window.

  1. Desktop

Once the program is installed, a shortcut icon will appear on your desktop.

  1. Drugstore

I’d appreciate it if you could stop at the drugstore on your way home for some painkillers.

  1. Fingerprint

A simple fingerprint test can easily identify the person who committed the crime.

  1. Firefly

According to Italian superstition, seeing a firefly in your home means that someone may pay you a surprise visit.

  1. Footnote

Make sure to append a footnote to explain your point in the article further.

  1. Footpath

Just follow the footpath, and you’ll reach the lake after about 10 minutes of walking.

  1. Foretell

You can’t foretell the future.

  1. Girlfriend

After a few months, his parents finally got the chance to meet his girlfriend.

  1. Gentleman

He always behaves like a true gentleman.

  1. Grandparent

Tony was raised by a grandparent.

  1. Grapefruit

One study showed that eating half a grapefruit before a meal is associated with significant weight loss.

  1. Grasshopper

She can’t tell the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket.

  1. Hangover

Unsurprisingly, he had a hangover from all that booze on Friday.

  1. Headquarters

The company’s headquarters are located in Virginia.

  1. Holdup

Due to a recent postal service strike, there’s a holdup with my package.

  1. Hypersensitive

He’s hypersensitive to caffeine, so even a single cup gives him the jitters.

  1. Infrared

While humans can’t see infrared light, mosquitoes can.

  1. Inside

This bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

  1. Jellyfish

Australian box jellyfish is considered the most venomous creature in the sea. 

  1. Keyboard

Scientists say there are more bacteria on a computer keyboard than on a toilet seat.

  1. Ladybug

Did you know that a ladybug can live around 2 to 3 years?

  1. Landlord

His landlord is unwilling to lower the rent, so he’s moving out of that apartment.

  1. Nevertheless

The test was quite difficult; nevertheless, he earned an A-.

  1. Newborn

This sophisticated medical equipment can save the lives of newborn babies.

  1. Nobody

Your experience and knowledge are two things that nobody can take away from you.

  1. Notebook

I always keep a notebook by the bed to write down my dreams in the morning.

  1. Outside

I’ll meet you outside the mall.

  1. Peripatetic

He enjoys the peripatetic nature of working as a reporter.

  1. Placeholder

The new placeholder budget won’t address the deficit caused by state taxes.

  1. Preexisting

Unfortunately, this insurance doesn’t cover any preexisting illnesses.

  1. Railroad

The landslide in Utah caused the railroad blockage.

  1. Rainbow

A rainbow is an optical illusion, so if you move, it moves further away, and you can never catch it.

  1. Smartphone

The new smartphone application allows you to pay without a card.

  1. Snowball

She wiped down the snow from her face and grinned as she proceeded to make a giant snowball to throw back.

  1. Sometimes

Sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing at all.

  1. Spoonful

Add a spoonful of sugar to the mixture.

  1. Sunflower

Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan on medium heat, then fry the onions until golden.

  1. Toothbrush

I forgot to pack my toothbrush.

  1. Transatlantic

The first transatlantic flight was conducted over a century ago.

  1. Undercover

The criminal was caught after an undercover police investigation.

  1. Upperclassman

Only an upperclassman can live off the campus.

  1. Upstream

Salmon swim upstream to hatch eggs in freshwater rivers.

  1. Airborne

You can transmit airborne diseases like COVID-19 to others by sneezing and coughing.

  1. Breathtaking

The sea view from my bedroom window is breathtaking.

  1. Database

Our company plans to build a new database for all our clients’ information.

  1. Extracurricular

Geneva likes to join and attend extracurricular activities at her school.

  1. Fireproof

My grandfather has a fireproof safe for all his important documents, jewelry, and money.

  1. Gingerbread

My sister invited me to make a gingerbread house for Christmas.

  1. Headlight

The headlight in Carlo’s car is not working.

  1. Jaywalk

There are signs warning people not to jaywalk, but people still do it.

  1. Knothole

I get weird vibes from him because he has the habit of peeking through the knothole to watch other people.

  1. Loudspeaker

Glen put the call on loudspeaker so we could hear the whole conversation.

  1. Marketplace

You can buy and sell almost anything on the Facebook marketplace.

  1. Nationwide

We are currently experiencing a nationwide water interruption.

  1. Ourselves

We decided to fix the leak ourselves.

  1. Proofread

She likes to thoroughly proofread her essays before submitting them to her teacher.

  1. Spreadsheet

I use Microsoft Excel to create spreadsheet files on my computer.

  1. Timetable

May I know where I can see the train timetable going to the city?

  1. Underdog

We believe our underdog basketball team will win this season.

  1. Videocassette

Can you teach me how to use your videocassette recorder, Grandpa?

  1. Woodpecker

A woodpecker uses its strong beak to make holes in trees and search for food.

  1. Yearbook

The school photography club will take our yearbook photos today!

  1. Caregiver

Sheena’s mom is working as a caregiver in the US.

  1. Doorbell

Please press the doorbell three times. Thank you!

  1. Grandchild

She’s his grandparents’ favorite grandchild.

  1. Headache

“Please try to keep the noise down; I have a terrible headache.”

  1. Heartbeat

“Oh, this is bad – my heartbeat becomes irregular whenever he smiles.”

  1. Innkeeper

The innkeeper welcomes all their guests with a smile.

  1. Lifespan

“Did you know that an individual with Down’s syndrome has a lifespan of 60 years?”

  1. Myself

“I’ll do it myself if you don’t want to do it.”

  1. Pancake

He woke up early to make a big pancake for his lover.

  1. Quarterback

I can’t believe my parent’s love story is the typical quarterback who fell in love with the nerd type.

  1. Rattlesnake

“Quick! She was bit by a poisonous rattlesnake!”

  1. Snowman

My son loves to play outside during winter to build a snowman.

  1. Zookeeper

“This is Jake, our new zookeeper!”

  1. Afternoon

Afternoon tea is one of the most quintessential English customs. 

  1. Airport

I have to leave at 4:00 AM if I want to get to the airport on time.

  1. Anchorman

Jonas is the new anchorman for regional evening news.

  1. Babysit

They’re looking for a reliable person to babysit their kid during weekdays.

  1. Barefoot

Let’s take our shoes off and walk barefoot along the beach!

  1. Baseball

Historically, baseball was considered the national sport of the USA.

  1. Bathroom

An ensuite bathroom immediately adjoins the bedroom, providing convenient facilities for the sleepers.

  1. Battleship

Deemed irreparably damaged, the Arizona battleship was left where she sank. 

  1. Bedroom

We’re looking for a house with a modern kitchen and an ample master bedroom.

  1. Blueberry

That blueberry muffin you’re eating has about 500 calories.

  1. Cheesecake

I’m not a big fan of chocolate desserts, but I can never resist a bite of cheesecake.

  1. Coffee table

This glass coffee table doesn’t match the aesthetic of our living room.

  1. Cowboy

It’s a nice outfit, but that battered cowboy hat has to go.

  1. Everyday

Most people don’t experience such things in their everyday life.

  1. Football

He’s been playing football since elementary school.

  1. Frying pan

Heat the oil in a frying pan before adding the onion.

  1. Handshake

For such a petite lady, she has an exceptionally firm handshake.

  1. Lipstick

Her lipstick color is too bold for that outfit.

  1. Mailbox

He’s checking his mailbox daily, hoping for a reply from his employer.

  1. Raincoat

According to the forecast, you’ll need a raincoat and an umbrella today.

  1. Skateboard

Tony Hawk founded his own skateboard company in 1992.

  1. Sleeping bag

Always go for a sleeping bag with a temperature rating that’s a few degrees below the conditions you’re expecting on your camping trip.

  1. Makeover

Are you sure you want a total makeover just to make her like you?

  1. Watermelon

Watermelon is a green fruit with bright red flesh.

  1. Waterfall

From above, you have an amazing view of the waterfall and its surroundings. 

  1. Weekend

You don’t need that big of a suitcase for a weekend trip.

  1. Fundraiser

The team is hosting a fundraiser for their local animal shelter.

Open Compound Words

Open compound words have spaces between the words they consist of. Even so, they’re considered a single word (i.e., hot dog).

In most cases, open compound words are nouns. When it comes to verbs, they’re written as open compound words when combined with an adverb or a preposition (phrasal verb).

  1. Black eye

Luckily, he wasn’t seriously injured in the crash – just a few bruises and a black eye.

  1. Cell phone

Nowadays, any modern cell phone can take high-quality photos.

  1. Close call

The decision is a close call, as the jury is equally divided on the matter.

  1. Cold shoulder

He gave her his most charming smile, but she gave him the cold shoulder.

  1. Common sense

There’s nothing less common than common sense!

  1. Cotton candy

This is a beautiful spring fragrance with subtle notes of sandalwood, cotton candy, and vanilla.

  1. Dining room

The double doors at the end of the hallway lead to the dining room.

  1. First aid

People attempted to give him first aid before the ambulance arrived.

  1. Full moon

During a full moon, rodents stay in their burrows to avoid being caught by the nocturnal predators.

  1. Heart attack

She nearly gave me a heart attack when she appeared out of nowhere.

  1. High school

While he was a mediocre student in high school, he’s at the top of his class in college today.

  1. Hot dog

Do you want some mustard and ketchup on your hot dog?

  1. Ice cream

There’s nothing more refreshing than a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day.

  1. Life jacket

To inflate your life jacket, the only thing you have to do is pull on the cord.

  1. Next of kin

In such situations, your next of kin has legal rights to make decisions on your behalf.

  1. Payday

If payday falls on a bank holiday, employee deposits will be delayed for a day.

  1. Peanut butter

He brings a peanut butter jelly sandwich to work every day.

  1. Per capita 

The per capita income of this country is the lowest in the world.

  1. Prime minister

If a prime minister resigns, an interim PM is appointed until the general election.

  1. Real estate

Investing in real estate offers a steady income and high dividend.

  1. Remote control

The remote control doesn’t work; it needs new batteries.

  1. Report card

His parents weren’t happy when they saw his school report card.

  1. Rib cage

Intercostal muscles contract to raise the rib cage upward and outward, allowing air into the lungs. 

  1. Role model

Unlike his biological father, his stepfather is someone he can look up to as a role model

  1. Roller coaster

I don’t have the stomach to go on the new roller coaster ride.

  1. Search engine

Keywords help a search engine identify the topics that your content is covering.

  1. Test drive

Always take a car for a test drive before buying it.

  1. Theme park

The Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando is the largest theme park in the world.

  1. Time capsule

They dug out a time capsule in their backyard that was buried 100 years ago.

  1. Upper crust

The upper crust travels by private car, not public transportation.

  1. Vacuum cleaner

The only thing my giant guard dog is scared of is the vacuum cleaner.

  1. Vending machine

I wanted to get us coffee, but the vending machine was broken.

  1. Video game

Ubisoft is currently working on a new video game from the Elder Scrolls franchise.

  1. Voice mail

He’s unavailable; the call goes straight to voicemail.

  1. Waiting room

To the right, there’s a spacious waiting room with chairs and magazines to kill time with. 

  1. Washing machine

Make sure not to overload the washing machine, or the laundry might not come out clean.

  1. Web page

This web page takes forever to load due to all the large, unoptimized images.

  1. Bow Tie

The new CEO prefers to wear a bow tie rather than a necktie to complete his work outfit.

  1. Cave In

The earthquake was so strong that I thought the ground below me would cave in.

  1. Christmas Tree

Mom and I will look for the perfect Christmas tree tomorrow.

  1. Course Work

Agatha’s English professor gives her a lot of course work to pass the semester.

  1. Fine Art

There are many antiques and fine art in the new museum.

  1. Grand Jury

The grand jury will hear the testimony of all the witnesses in the case this week.

  1. Jigsaw Puzzle

This world map jigsaw puzzle is so big that it will take some time to complete.

  1. Labor Day

In the US, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

  1. Life Vest

A life vest and life jacket have the same primary purpose – to prevent you from drowning.

  1. Movie Theater

Liam plans to ask Cleo out on a date to the movie theater.

  1. Outer Space

The little boy asks his dad if he can buy him a spacecraft so he can go to outer space.

  1. Photo ID

Here’s the application form, and please do not forget to attach a clear photo ID before submitting it.

  1. Post Office

There is a notice that my parcel will arrive at the post office tomorrow.

  1. Role Play

Role play is a technique often used in training to allow the participants to gain an understanding of someone else’s point of view. 

  1. Sweet Tooth

My little sister has a sweet tooth. Give her a box of chocolates, and she will love you.

  1. Tennis Shoes

This new pair of tennis shoes is from my supportive parents, whom I love the most.

  1. Living Room

Let’s all go through to the living room and sit easy.

Compound Verbs

A compound verb comprises two separate regular verbs to describe an action. Usually, compound verbs come under open compound words. 

  1. Ask Out

“Mia, is he the one you want to ask out?”

  1. Blow Up

His enemies will do everything to blow up his plan.

  1. Call Off

It’s best to call off the outdoor event if it continues to rain.

  1. Drop Out

Many students drop out of school due to financial, personal, and social issues.

  1. Fill Up

Students who wish to join must fill up the form and submit it to their professors today.

  1. Get Away

I promise you’ll never get away with your crimes!

  1. Pass Away

It’s a harrowing thought, but many will pass away because of the super typhoon.

  1. Sort Out

It’s time to sort out your things and just keep the essential items. 

  1. Take Off

The airplane will take off soon, hurry!

Hyphenated Compound Words

As the name suggests, hyphenated compound words feature a hyphen between the words (i.e., last-minute). 

Typically, compound words are written with a hyphen when they function as adjectives or verbs, as well as when you want to avoid ambiguity in sense or sound. 

  1. Cross-section

They showed us a cross-section of the building they’re working on.

  1. Brother-in-law

He loves his nieces and nephews, but he can’t stand his brother-in-law.

  1. Cold-blooded

A snake is a cold-blooded animal, meaning it doesn’t autoregulate its body temperature.

  1. Co-op

A farmer-owned co-op can play an important role in developing a local food infrastructure.

  1. Ear-splitting

He likes to blast his speakers at ear-splitting levels to annoy his neighbors.

  1. Editor-in-chief

After many years of working in the newspapers, Julie has finally become an editor-in-chief.

  1. Empty-handed

It’s practically impossible to leave an IKEA store empty-handed.

  1. Far-fetched

That claim seems a bit far-fetched, as the analysis was based on a single source.

  1. Forget-me-not

In the wild, forget-me-not best thrives in shady woodlands and around riverbanks.

  1. Half-baked

I’m sorry, but that half-baked plan is never going to work.

  1. High-rise

This neighborhood has just a few high-rise buildings.

  1. Ill-advised

You would be ill-advised to accept that offer.

  1. Jack-in-the-box

The kid started crying when he popped up out of nowhere like a jack-in-the-box.

  1. Know-it-all

If you’re such a know-it-all, then why don’t you do it yourself, then?

  1. Last-minute

She is doing a last-minute revision of her project.

  1. Law-abiding

For the most part, they’re law-abiding people who pay their taxes on time.

  1. Light-year

The closest star is about four light-years away from the Earth. 

  1. Long-term

Owning a dog is a long-term commitment, so think about it before getting one.

  1. Make-believe

Anyone with half a brain will see through his make-believe stories.

  1. Mind-blowing

The first single from this album is mind-blowing, both in terms of lyrics and melody.

  1. Nitty-gritty

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and figure out how to solve the issue.

  1. One-on-one

The company will conduct one-on-one meetings with every employee.

  1. One-sided

Unfortunately, the argument is too one-sided, we need to hear the other perspective.

  1. Over-the-counter

While you can get over-the-counter antibiotics, you should consult with a medical professional first to receive a precise diagnosis and treatment. 

  1. Pitter-patter

It was quiet, aside from the gentle pitter-patter of rain on the window.

  1. Runner-up

He was twice a runner-up in the US championship.

  1. Self-control

Jack remained calm and exhibited self-control despite their teasing.

  1. So-called

Those were his so-called friends who turned their back on him when he needed them the most.

  1. Stick-in-the-mud

His being such a stick-in-the-mud will cause him many issues in socializing.

  1. V-necked

She’s wearing a shirt underneath a V-necked sweater.

  1. Walk-in

The master bedroom doesn’t have to be huge, but it needs to have a walk-in closet for all my clothes and shoes.

  1. Warm-up

A warm-up before exercise is essential to avoid injuring yourself.

  1. Well-being

Prioritizing physical activity, even if it’s just a short exercise, can make a difference in your overall well-being.

  1. Y-shaped

He has found the perfect Y-shaped branch to create a slingshot.

  1. A-frame

Unlike what other people say, the A-frame house is not cheap to build, but it is durable.

  1. Check-in

According to the hotel’s policy, we must check-in at two in the afternoon.

  1. Father-in-law

My father-in-law is celebrating his birthday on Sunday, here’s your invitation!

  1. High-tech

I’m jealous of my friend’s home appliances because everything is high-tech and expensive.

  1. In-depth

Owners of high-rise condominiums expect contractors to provide in-depth monitoring during project completion.

  1. King-size

Except for the width, a queen and a king-size bed have the same length of 80 inches.

  1. Life-size

What if we give her a life-size standee of her favorite celebrity?

  1. Merry-go-round

The little boy has been waiting for his turn at the merry-go-round for hours despite his mother coaxing him to try tomorrow.

  1. On-site

We need to get to your first on-site filming location early tomorrow.

  1. Self-service

We’ll eat at a self-service restaurant later, is that okay with you?

  1. Three-dimensional

The third participant has excellent skills in using three-dimensional effects in painting.

  1. U-turn

That U-turn slot is out of place and is likely to cause many accidents.

  1. Up-to-date

I like watching home design videos on YouTube to get up-to-date with the most innovative home ideas.

  1. Word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth is their primary marketing strategy.

  1. X-ray

The doctor wants to see my X-ray results.

  1. Absent-minded

He becomes more absent-minded as his dementia progresses.

  1. Brown-eyed

Alexa’s newborn is a beautiful brown-eyed baby.

  1. Full-length

It’ll be great if I can paint the frame of my full-length mirror green, so it matches the colors of my room.

  1. English-speaking

He can just ask around if ever he gets lost. He’s an English-speaking visitor.

  1. Good-looking

Jay is tall, dark, and quite good-looking.

  1. Hard-working

Gia is a very hard-working person, and she deserves a rest.

  1. Long-lasting

The accident caused her to suffer long-lasting psychological damage.

  1. Mouth-watering

There are lots of mouth-watering sweets in the buffet!

  1. Part-time:

He needs to get a part-time job to earn money.

  1. Time-saving

Mom likes to purchase items with time-saving features.

  1. World-famous

June dreams of being a world-famous singer someday.

Are you concerned about writing incomplete sentences? Check out our guide to sentence fragments for writers.

  • Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.