If you’re a fan of reading beauty blogs, or even perhaps an aspiring writer attempting to make your own mark on the industry, it’s a conundrum that you’ve no doubt encountered time and again. What, you would be forgiven for wondering, is really the right way to spell makeup? Should it have a hyphen, like make-up, or be written out as two separate words? Here, we aim to solve the riddle once and for all.
Essentially, “makeup” is what is known is a compound noun — i.e. a noun made up of at least two different words. But unfortunately, that doesn’t immediately clear things up. Because in the tricky world of English grammar, all three spelling options (makeup, make-up and make up) are technically correct when it comes to compound nouns.
Generally speaking, though, the single-word version of a compound noun is usually the preferred spelling — unless there is an obvious reason not to use it. So when it comes to writing the word makeup, most spellchecks and grammatical tools will recognise the single-word spelling as correct.
In other words, while make-up and make up are not wrong, exactly, makeup is typically the preferred choice. Which means that it’s the correct spelling when the word is used as an adjective as well. So makeup counter, makeup artist and makeup brushes would all be the optimum versions.
But just to confuse things more, there are some instances in which the spelling “make up” would be preferred — such as when it is being used as a phrasal verb. For example, the phrases “Lizzie, please make up the models” or “Can you make up the bed” would both be correct.
Got that? Don’t worry, we all know that it can be confusing. And realistically speaking, you’re unlikely to get called out no matter which spelling you decide to use. But if you want to win one over on the grammar police, this is the guide to follow.
Shall we get started on MUA?
Let’s leave that to the next blog! 🙂