Hyphens in Longer Compounds

Where would you put hyphens in his new fur coat wearing boss? a reader asked me recently.

Like this: his new fur-coat wearing boss?

Or this: his new fur coat-wearing boss?

Or maybe like this: his new fur-coat-wearing boss?

Or maybe three hyphens: his new-fur-coat-wearing boss.

Longer compounds, or "compounds of uncertain scope," leave much up to the writer. The most important thing is to keep an eye on the meaning. Is this boss new? Or just the boss's coat?

Here's how I answered her question.

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One Response to “Hyphens in Longer Compounds”

  1. Is the boss new or is the fur coat new? That would be determinative I'd think.