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Jan 8, 2015

How Should You Write These Contentious Nightmare Words?

Seat belts and seahorses and cell phones have divided the BuzzFeed copydesk. We need you to help us decide how they should be written.

Road Traffic Signs / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: smartsignbrooklyn

A recent update to the Associated Press Stylebook, the so-called "journalist's bible," unearthed a previously unknown fissure in the BuzzFeed copy desk: the word "seat belt." According to AP, it's "seat belt, two words."

But a few of our editors felt otherwise: There were "very strong feelings" against the two-word variation, as well as talk of moving to BuzzFeed's London office, where British English reigns supreme and all bets on standard American English are off. So we're kicking it out to you, our readers, to resolve our issues, once and for all.

One stipulation for all of you nitpicking grammarians: Let's consider each of these options nouns — no verbs or adjectives. So, that said, how should we style these headache-inducing words?

  1. Seat belt or seatbelt?

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Seat belt or seatbelt?
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    vote votes
    Seat belt — I stand firmly with AP and Merriam-Webster.
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    Seatbelt — Who knew it's supposed to be two words in the first place? That looks weird.
  1. Health care or healthcare?

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Health care or healthcare?
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    vote votes
    Health care — I am a law-abiding citizen who regularly reads Healthcare.gov.
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    Healthcare — One concept, one word.
  1. Spin-off or spinoff?

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Spin-off or spinoff?
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    Spin-off — Compound nouns need a hyphen.
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    Spinoff — That hyphen is burning my retinas.
  1. Cell phone or cellphone?

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Cell phone or cellphone?
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    Cell phone — I'm a traditionalist.
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    Cellphone — They're basically all smartphones now anyway.
  1. Sea horse or seahorse?

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Sea horse or seahorse?
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    vote votes
    Sea horse — They're stately animals who need that extra space for their majesty.
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    Seahorse — Catfish is one word; seahorse should follow suit.
  1. Buttcheeks or butt cheeks?

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Buttcheeks or butt cheeks?
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    vote votes
    Buttcheeks — Buttcheeks are a singular entity.
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    Butt cheeks — Divided IRL, divided in writing.
  1. Voiceover, voice-over, or voice over?

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Voiceover, voice-over, or voice over?
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    vote votes
    Voiceover — Sounds natural, looks natural.
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    Voice-over — Adjacent vowels, no thanks.
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    Voice over — Does not warrant single-word status.
  1. Roller coaster or rollercoaster?

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Roller coaster or rollercoaster?
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    Roller coaster — Is nothing sacred?!
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    Rollercoaster — You'd definitely die going over that space in an actual rollercoaster.
  1. Rideshare or ride-share?

    We might ban this word altogether, but let's vote anyway.

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Rideshare or ride-share?
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    Rideshare — That hyphen is a nightmare.
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    Ride-share — Again, the hyphen is a necessary evil.
  1. Email or e-mail?

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Email or e-mail?
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    vote votes
    Email — Language and words evolve; toss the hyphen.
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    E-mail — Brings me back to the golden days of the '90s and early aughts.
  1. Video games or videogames?

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Video games or videogames?
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    Video games — Lana del Rey sings it as two words, so, me too.
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    Videogames — I'm a gaming purist.
  1. Dealbreaker or deal breaker?

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Dealbreaker or deal breaker?
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    vote votes
    Dealbreaker — It's a dealbreaker to ~not~ style this word thusly.
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    vote votes
    Deal breaker — Two words, no question.
Fox / Netflix / Via gifatron.com

After you've voted, be sure to check out the BuzzFeed Style Guide, and tell us what you think! Follow our copy editors on Twitter @StyleGuide for fun language tips or email us: styleguide@buzzfeed.com.