Should these terms be one word or two?

Do terms such as ‘headshot’ and ‘username’ look wrong to you?

Corporate communicators can become easily distracted by style and usage issues.

For example, when someone asks a usage question, I can’t let it go until I find out the answer.

This week’s distraction was the term “cyber security.” A co-worker was insisting that the term was now one word, “cybersecurity.” And indeed, I confirmed this with several dictionaries and in the AP Stylebook. “Cyber” is now considered an accepted prefix. So “cybersecurity”—like “cyberspace” or “cyberbullying”—is one word.

I don’t agree with the designation of “cyber” as a prefix. “Cybersecurity” looks odd, and I would prefer to continue using it as two words.

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This issue led me to think about other words that have been classified as one word, but probably shouldn’t be. Here are a few I came up with:

  • anymore
  • backstabbing
  • childcare
  • coalminer
  • commonsense
  • cybersecurity
  • headshot
  • healthcare
  • login
  • logout
  • longstanding
  • newsweekly
  • onetime
  • profitmaking
  • shipbroker (but “insurance broker”)
  • taskforce
  • trainwreck
  • username
  • underway
  • wellbeing

What do you think Ragan readers? Should the words on the list be two words? (Some, of course, are two words as verbs, but one as nouns.) Do you have any others to add to the list?

Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at

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