Ogden's Basic English
The compound word list has been rolled into the spelling list and no
work is currently being done. The spelling list, in several forms,
is available as zipped downloads on
For some reason we receive more queries on compound words than
any other topic, most concerned with Introductory English,
not Ogden's Basic English. Our stock answer to questions such as
"Is 'carnation' a compound word?" has become -
Compound words are the culmination of a process. They start
as two words often used together to express a concept.
As they become more closely linked, they become hyphenated.
The final step is to eliminate the hyphen and make a compound word.
There are words in all stages of evolution in use at all times.
Dictionaries observe usage by respected writers to determine which
form is appropriate for the next issue of their book.
Compound words in Basic English must be basic words in which the
basic meaning of each word is clear in the compound word.
"Straightforward Basic combinations like "milkman" present no
difficulty; descriptive compounds like "blackberry, blackbird"
are allowed in the form of specializations; "bluebottle", which
is analogically descriptive, is on the borderland; while
"butterflies" and "chestnuts" must be rejected as giving
no clue to their identity."
-- The Basic Dictionary, C.K.Ogden. ISB40590-00862-9