The Correct Way To Spell 'Lifehacker' And 'Lifehacking'

Several readers wrote in to point out to us that "lifehacking" was given an honourable mention in the Macquarie Dictionary's 2014 words of the year list. I'm torn over this. It's nice that the Macquarie editors noticed -- but with that said, they seem a little late to the party.

Pizza picture from Shutterstock

Lifehacker Australia has been running for almost eight years. Our parent site Lifehacker US just celebrated its tenth anniversary. And even when the original site launched, the phrase "lifehacking" was already in heavy use online.

The winners and honourable mentions are chosen from newly-added words from the annual Macquarie update. Given that timeline, part of me feels that, even allowing for the inherent conservatism of dictionary management, that the addition should have happened some time earlier. And then the other part of me remembers that Lifehacker had its biggest year ever in 2014, so perhaps it's just a question of reaching critical mass.

In any case, this event does provide us with an opportunity to reaffirm the correct way of spelling "lifehacker" and related terms. The Macquarie defines "lifehacking" as

the application of strategies or shortcuts used to simplify or improve any aspect of one's life

It also notes "lifehacker" as a noun, similarly spelled as one word.

While both terms were created by combining two existing words, when such an expression falls into common usage it's often the case in English that it will become a single portmanteau word. That is what has happened here.

Also: If you're referring to Lifehacker the publication (hi!), then you need a capital L. There isn't a space in between the two words (Life Hacker), an interim capital (LifeHacker) or an hyphen (Life-Hacker).

One word, one unquestionably useful idea. Accuracy matters. Happy lifehacking!

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    Also of note: the cyberpunk lifestyle magazine Mondo 2000 was originally titled "Reality Hacker". This was back in the 1980s.

    Off tangent, but:

    an hyphenation?

    I'm not usually a stickler for haitches, but even in my mind that sounded weird.

      Kids and their buzzwords these days.

      Last edited 09/02/15 4:02 pm

      "aitch". Not "haitch". But other than that yeah, you're right.

      It's always annoyed me actually how Americans don't pronounce the 'h' in "herb"...we and the rest of the English speaking world say "herb", which makes the article "a", but they say "erb" which makes the article "an".

      I remember playing Illusion of Gaia/Time way back on the SNES, before I knew about this difference, and seeing the text when you found a herb "You found an herb!" and assumed it was an error in translation or a typo. Only years later did I discover that this was correct for US audiences.

      Last edited 09/02/15 4:30 pm

        What confused me even more is how the US pronounces Herbie (as in The Love Bug). Herb is without the h but Herbie is pronounced with h? Not consistent.

          Lack of Consistency isn't just a trait of US English, English is probably one of the most bullshittiest languages conceived (but i do love making english portmanteaux). Read and read has bugged me since early primary school though, and there are thousands of other stupid words.

          A vast number of US English idiosyncrasies i would put down to them changing to distance themselves from the British they hated so much in the early days, with newer words they probably don't care so much about changing nowadays.

      Yeah, it sounds and written weirdly. Is it "an hypercar" or "an hyperbole" or "an highrise"? Unless I'm mistaken on how to pronounce hyphen...

    "they seem a little late to the party"

    Dictionaries aren't created by simply listing all new words and their meanings as soon as they appear; that would be a lexicon, not a dictionary.

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