Sunday, May 07, 2006

Do You Know the Muffin Top?

It's fine to get hyper over too-tight pants. But let's not add a hyphen where none belongs.

Poppin' out of tight togs is not fresh
Lansing (Mich.) State Journal

Jinny Han of East Lansing, Mich., is a reformed muffin top. Even up until four months ago, this 23-year-old with zero-visible fat was insisting she was a size 3. She's a size 5. The result was that Han, who is 5-foot-3 inches tall and 118 pounds, pushed up what little flab she had into a jelly roll that hung over the top of her waistband.

"Zero visible fat" doesn't need a hyphen.

You use hyphens to link some compound modifiers that come before the noun they modify. Properly used, the hyphen helps eliminate confusion. A red-hot tamale is one that's really hot (but it could be green in color). A hot, red tamale is one that is red and hot.

In the case of zero and visible, there is no confusion about what those words modify. The hyphen, prompting readers to utter "zero-visible" in one breath, just sounds weird.

That said, enough with the muffin-top pants, people. The extra flesh is worse than an extra hyphen.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hmmm. I still prefer the hyphen. It is more precise.

As for being difficult to read -- I agree that the sentence is not the best one I've ever written, but taking away the hyphen doesn't alter the cadence.

--- Respectfully yours, Christine Rook