The Firefox browser’s spellchecker keeps tagging “outperformance” as a typo. I feel very annoyed when this happens because I believe it’s wrong. This spurred me to do research on the correctness of my assumption.
The case for “outperformance”
Here’s the evidence in favor of marrying “out” and “performance” so they’re one word:
- “Generally do not hyphenate when using a prefix with a word that starts with a consonant,” said The Associated Press Stylebook, when I originally researched this question some years ago. More recently, the online AP Stylebook says, “Follow Webster’s New World College Dictionary.” The dictionary includes “outperform” without a hyphen.
- Words into Type says, “The modern tendency is to eliminate the hyphen between a prefix and a root unless the root is a proper noun or adjective, such as un-American.”
- Google brought up about 1.2 million examples for “+fund +outperformance” vs. fewer than 700,000 for “+fund +out-performance” when I originally researched this topic. (Google appears to have stopped showing the number of search results, so I’m sharing old results here and below.)
The case for “out-performance” with a hyphen
I mustered one piece of evidence in favor of hyphenating “out-performance” when I originally researched this post. Google yielded more than 931 million search results for “out-performance” vs. only 1.01 million for “outperformance.” It’s strange that the first four results use the spelling “outperformance,” as you see in the screen shot on the left.
Results of my spelling poll
When I polled my newsletter and blog readers about the proper spelling, “outperformance” won in a landslide, with 92% of the vote. Here are the results:
- Outperformance: 92%
- Out-performance: 0
- Out performance: 8%
Note: I updated this piece on December 1, 2013, to share the results of my poll, instead of directing readers to a poll that’s no longer active. This post originated as a request for readers to respond to a poll.