Well-being vs. wellbeing

  • In much of the English-speaking world, including in the U.K. and especially in Australia, wellbeing is usually one word, with no hyphen. Though the hyphenated form is older and remains acceptable everywhere, the one-word form has existed for several centuries and has grown steadily more common over the years. Today it is not questioned outside North America.



    In the U.S. and Canada, meanwhile, the one-word form remains rare, appearing only a small fraction of the time. In North America, the word is hyphenated, well-being. Spell check doesn’t catch wellbeing, and that form does appear occasionally in edited texts, but its rarity suggests it still has a long way to go before gaining full acceptance.


    1. I like “well-being” better. “Wellbeing” sounds like a single German word.

      • Jeremy Gilbert says

        As English is a Germanic language, it would make sense for it to “sound” (you mean look, right?) like a German compound word. It’s not like English is devoid of compound words. Textbook? Webpage? Afternoon? Midday? Afterthought? They’re just some examples.
        It makes sense for single concepts to be grouped together rather than separated (even by hyphens) it can sometimes avoid ambiguity.

        • I’mma firin’ mah lazor!!!!!

        • johnny5wd says

          I agree! Ambiguity leads to so many misinterpretations, especially when communicating in English among people from many different nationalities. It has happened to me more than once, even within a relationship…

      • PlastiqueDuck says

        Unfortunately for you, language doesn’t always work for individuals aesthetic values. And rightly so. Choosing the spelling of a word based on the way it looks is nonsensical.

        • *individuals’ aesthetic values (just sayin’)

          • PlastiqueDuck says

            I could have put ‘an’ before ‘individuals’, but I’ll stand corrected this time :)

            • You’d still be wrong. Then it would be “an individual’s”. I’m sure grammarist has a page on apostrophes.

            • PlastiqueDuck says

              Obviously not keeping in the original word with the apostrophe in it *stares at you then wipes hand down face at your literalness*. Those were examples of how I could have re-phrased the paragraph I wrote. You can stop jumping on “WonderWoman’s” bandwagon now; fella.

            • Daniel Jr. says

              You comment on a website that is devoted to grammar, then you become recalcitrant when someone points out that your grammar is incorrect. Such a pity.

            • PlastiqueDuck says

              *Harps back to three months ago* I wasn’t incorrect to start with. The above nitpicking invoked a reactionary nitpick (tongue in cheek), with a suggested replacement for my wording if the initial wasn’t good enough.

              *whispers in ‘Juniors’ ear as not to ridicule further* If grammar is the complete observation here; try double spacing after a full stop. Practice what you preach and all that? :)

            • R. Scott Poppele says

              From a grammar and punctuation standpoint, you were incorrect from the start with the “individuals” comment. The apostrophe, as previously pointed out, is required given the structure of your sentence (possession). You could have used “individual” without the “s” in adjective form with a slightly different nuance.

              Further, with the advent of typefaces having letters of varying widths, the standard practice is now to single-space after a period.

            • Sally Godwin Chewter says

              You mean, “Harks back” :-) And your semi-colons are wrong. Just sayin’

            • johnny5wd says

              In the original sentence “…work for individuals aesthetic values..” could conceivably be interpreted as the writer intending the word “individuals” to be plural, in which case ” individuals’ ” would be correct. In any case I’m grateful for all the information on Grammarist. It really helps to improve my English (being a non-native speaker myself).

            • johnny5wd says

              It’s fun to see I’m not the only nut who corrects himself :D

            • PlastiqueDuck says

              Sometimes it’s forced upon oneself, Johnny :)

              Kudos to you for the re-iteration.

      • Will Killyou says

        I like Germans so for now on I am using “wellbeing”!

    2. Max Wolfson says


    3. Effector Dhanushanth says

      how bout the UK???? how bout the UK???

    4. It doesn’t make sense to use a hyphen in the word Wellbeing. What’s the point?

    About Grammarist
    Contact | Privacy policy | Home
    © Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist