Compound words are made up of two parts of speech. For example, the compound noun handkerchief is made up of two nouns: hand + kerchief. Semantically, compound words are very interesting, since their meaning is constructed from the meanings of the individual constituent parts. So, a handkerchief is a “kerchief” held in one’s “hand” and, therefore, is something that can be used for blowing one’s nose.

Puzzles that play on this feature can be called simply “compound word” puzzles. You are given synonyms, paraphrases, etc. for each part of the compound word, and you will have to figure out what the word is by relating the parts to the whole. For example, can you figure out the compound word that is made up of two parts meaning (individually): inside + place something. The answer is input, since in = inside and put = place something. That’s all there is to it.

This may be a bit of stretch, but compound words might mirror a law of inherent structure. An example in nature is that of chemical compounds, which are different than their constituent parts. So, sodium + chloride = salt (sodium chloride), but salt is different from sodium (on its own) or chloride (on its own). As a saying goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and this applies as much to chemical compounds as it does to verbal compounds. It is interesting to note how things that seem unrelated in kind can be connected to each other structurally, of we look closely enough.

Here are ten compound word puzzles. As you solve them, pay attention to how the individual meanings of the parts blend together to produce the meaning of the compound word.

Puzzles

1. companion + sailing vessel

2. pottery (of a certain kind) + place for habitation

3. get hold of + above

4. volume + retail establishment

5. leaf color + abode

6. gaze + away

7. cervix + fine, delicate fabric

8. memo + published work

9. recently + married

10. not here + set down

Answers

1. friendship (friend = companion, ship = sailing vessel)

2. warehouse (ware = certain type of pottery, house = place for habitation)

3. takeover (take = get hold of, over = above)

4. bookstore (book = volume, store = retail establishment)

5. greenhouse (green = leaf color, house = abode)

6. lookout (look = gaze, out = away)

7. necklace (neck = cervix, lace = fine, delicate fabric)

8. notebook (note = memo, book = published work)

9. newlywed (newly = recently, wed = married)

10. output (out = not here, put = set down)

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