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Jul 18 2012   2:10PM GMT

Old-fashion or old-fashioned?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
We’re planning an ___________ Christmas this year. We’ll be dining by candlelight — and banning iPhones at the table .
a. old-fashion
b. old-fashioned

Answer: b.

Explanation:
To fashion is to make; fashioned means made. Old-fashioned means made in the old way.

And without the hyphen? Neither! Never! Not “old fashion,” not “old fashioned.” When we combine two words to use as an adjective, we hyphenate.

Google poll, searching for verbatim:
old-fashion — 43,600,000 hits
old fashion — 865,000,000 hits
old-fashioned — 320,000,000 hits
old fashioned — 381,000,000 hits

Oh dear, oh dear. The worst possible spelling is by far the most popular. I was impressed to see, among the search results, that a lot of people actually have it wrong — especially as “old fashion” — in their business names. A word of advice — if you’re ever starting a business, make sure that you don’t name it something that makes you look less intelligent than you’d like. Check your grammar!

And in case anyone’s wondering, the same rule would hold for “old-style” and “old-school.”

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

13  Comments on this Post

 
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  • weejus
    Disagree. were celebrating in the fashion of old, not the fashioned of old.
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  • weejus
    Just as it wouldn't be "old-styled hamburgers", or "learning the old-schooled way"
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  • weejus
    In this case, fashion doesn't mean "to make", but "in the style of". Example: high fashion doesn't mean it was made by a person of the upper class, but that it is the style in vogue for the upper class. The past-tense of style is "style", and, in this case, the past-tense of fashion is "fashion".
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  • BobS1952
    Not sure I agree with this one.  Fashion does mean to make when it is being used as a verb.  Here "old-fashion" is being used as an adjective as well as in a hyphenated form.  So why does the verb form dictate the form that the adjective needs to take?
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  • NancyA
    I disagree with the "correct answer" because the choices are not acting as verbs which would definitely show a present or past tense. The choices are acting as adjectives modifying Christmas, so the participle old-fashioned would be correct.
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  • dargannon
    Simple one... as in "used to be" and not use to be
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  • aaronmic
    She is actually correct. "Old-Fashioned" is the correct spelling.
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  • dragonade
    The reason "old fashion" has the most hits is probably due to the fact that you just did a Google search and not an actual poll. The sentence "Here is an example of an old fashion" makes perfect sense but does not mean "This thing is old-fashioned", which is what you are asking for the spelling of. Next time consider how you conducted your research before analysing the results.
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  • trlkly
    Sorry guys, but she's right this time. Inasmuch as there is a correct answer, it is "old-fashioned." That is the original form, and the reason why is because it is a past participle of a verb.

    Yes, it could have come from the noun "fashion," but it did not, because that noun postdates the verb significantly.

    Of course, what is correct follows usage. So "old-fashion" is also arguably a correct but lesser used alternative. But, given the choice in some sort of questionnaire, "old-fashioned" is correct.
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  • HHIFAN
    Use hyphenated adjectives before the noun only when the first adjective specifically modifies the second adjective and not the noun.  Also, when using the two adjectives AFTER the noun, they are not hyphenated ever.
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  • Paul298
    To fashion actually does mean "to make" in its perfectly valid use as a verb. It's legal as both a verb and a noun. My own favorite is "olde-fashioned" but jokes are better left unexplained.
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  • Robster
    Banning phones at the table is not old fashioned: it's just courteous and should always be observed.
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  • bermuder
    An adjective is needed in the blank. "Old-fashioned" is the correct adjectival form. If you were using the term in the nominal form, you would say "old fashion," although that would be unusual ("The old fashion of baking sugar cookies is...." Bad example).
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