back to top

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.

Posted on
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?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Seat belt — I stand firmly with AP and Merriam-Webster.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Seatbelt — Who knew it's supposed to be two words in the first place? That looks weird.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Seat belt or seatbelt?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Seat belt — I stand firmly with AP and Merriam-Webster.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Seatbelt — Who knew it's supposed to be two words in the first place? That looks weird.
  1. Health care or healthcare?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Health care — I am a law-abiding citizen who regularly reads Healthcare.gov.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Healthcare — One concept, one word.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Health care or healthcare?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Health care — I am a law-abiding citizen who regularly reads Healthcare.gov.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Healthcare — One concept, one word.
  1. Spin-off or spinoff?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Spin-off — Compound nouns need a hyphen.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Spinoff — That hyphen is burning my retinas.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Spin-off or spinoff?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Spin-off — Compound nouns need a hyphen.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Spinoff — That hyphen is burning my retinas.
  1. Cell phone or cellphone?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cell phone — I'm a traditionalist.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Cellphone — They're basically all smartphones now anyway.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Cell phone or cellphone?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Cell phone — I'm a traditionalist.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Cellphone — They're basically all smartphones now anyway.
  1. Sea horse or seahorse?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Sea horse — They're stately animals who need that extra space for their majesty.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Seahorse — Catfish is one word; seahorse should follow suit.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Sea horse or seahorse?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Sea horse — They're stately animals who need that extra space for their majesty.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Seahorse — Catfish is one word; seahorse should follow suit.
  1. Buttcheeks or butt cheeks?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Buttcheeks — Buttcheeks are a singular entity.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Butt cheeks — Divided IRL, divided in writing.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Buttcheeks or butt cheeks?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Buttcheeks — Buttcheeks are a singular entity.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Butt cheeks — Divided IRL, divided in writing.
  1. Voiceover, voice-over, or voice over?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Voiceover — Sounds natural, looks natural.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Voice-over — Adjacent vowels, no thanks.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Voice over — Does not warrant single-word status.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Voiceover, voice-over, or voice over?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Voiceover — Sounds natural, looks natural.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Voice-over — Adjacent vowels, no thanks.
  3.  
    vote votes
    Voice over — Does not warrant single-word status.
  1. Roller coaster or rollercoaster?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Roller coaster — Is nothing sacred?!
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Rollercoaster — You'd definitely die going over that space in an actual rollercoaster.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Roller coaster or rollercoaster?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Roller coaster — Is nothing sacred?!
  2.  
    vote votes
    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.

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Rideshare — That hyphen is a nightmare.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Ride-share — Again, the hyphen is a necessary evil.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Rideshare or ride-share?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Rideshare — That hyphen is a nightmare.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Ride-share — Again, the hyphen is a necessary evil.
  1. Email or e-mail?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Email — Language and words evolve; toss the hyphen.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    E-mail — Brings me back to the golden days of the '90s and early aughts.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Email or e-mail?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Email — Language and words evolve; toss the hyphen.
  2.  
    vote votes
    E-mail — Brings me back to the golden days of the '90s and early aughts.
  1. Video games or videogames?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Video games — Lana del Rey sings it as two words, so, me too.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Videogames — I'm a gaming purist.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Video games or videogames?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Video games — Lana del Rey sings it as two words, so, me too.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Videogames — I'm a gaming purist.
  1. Dealbreaker or deal breaker?

    Correct
    Incorrect
    Dealbreaker — It's a dealbreaker to ~not~ style this word thusly.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Deal breaker — Two words, no question.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later
Looks like we are having a problem on the server.
Dealbreaker or deal breaker?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Dealbreaker — It's a dealbreaker to ~not~ style this word thusly.
  2.  
    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.

Top trending videos

Watch more BuzzFeed Video Caret right

Top trending videos

Watch more BuzzFeed Video Caret right
Take quizzes and chill with the BuzzFeed app.