Compound adjectives are adjectives that are made up of two or more words usually with hyphens (-) between them.
Compound adjectives can be formed as follows:
1. Adjective + Past participle
I can’t stand narrow-minded people who are intolerant of new ideas.
The students gave a high-spirited musical performance.
We had lunch in an old-fashioned restaurant.
He was dancing with a short-haired woman.
His absent-minded comment hurt his sister’s feelings.
She’s a strong-willed woman who won’t stop until she gets what she wants.
The quick-witted detective solved the crime before anyone else had a clue.
A kind-hearted stranger helped us find the train station.
2. Adverb + Past Participle
They have three well-behaved children.
A lot of well-educated people are still having trouble finding jobs.
This densely-populated area has the highest crime rates in the country.
She’s a widely-recognized expert in technology.
Our speaker tonight is a highly-respected scholar.
We live on a brightly-lit street in the city center.
3. Noun + Past Participle
We strolled along the sun-baked streets of Naples.
I wanted to buy my daughter the most child-wanted toy.
A lot of middle-aged men are dissatisfied with their lives.
4. Noun + Present Participle
United Kingdom is an English-speaking country.
These time-saving techniques will help you work more efficiently.
The athlete’s record-breaking performance won him the gold medal.
There was a variety of mouth-watering desserts at the wedding reception.
It was a thought-provoking novel.
5. Adjective + Present Participle
Who’s that good-looking guy over there?
This long-lasting makeup will keep you looking lovely day and night.
I was stuck in slow-moving traffic for over an hour.
The new law will have far-reaching effects in the economy.
6. Adverb + Present Participle
Learning a language seems to be a never-ending process.
Some forward-thinking politicians are proposing reforms to the educational system.
7. Noun + Adjective
We had dinner at a world-famous Italian restaurant.
There’s nothing better than drinking an ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer day.
This is a smoke-free restaurant.
8. Adjective + Noun
The director produced his first full-length movie in 1998.
It was a last-minute decision.
9. Noun + Noun
We have 20 part-time members of staff .
10. Adjective + Adjective
These fat-free cookies are delicious!
A list of compound adjectives with their meanings:
- Kind-hearted: kind; generous
- Brightly-lit: full of light
- Old-fashioned: not modern
- Deeply-rooted: difficult to change
- Good-looking: attractive
- Labor-saving: making work easier
- Left-handed: uses left hand for writing ≠ Right- handed
- Short-sighted: unable to see far things ≠ Long-sighted
- Well-known: famous
- Easy-going: easy to accept things without worrying
- Brand-new: completely new
- Part-time (job): carries fewer hours per week
- Badly-written: written in a bad or wrong way
- Well-paid: providing or receiving good payment
- Second-hand: not new; used by someone before
- Well-informed: knows a lot
- Open-minded: flexible
- Red-handed: did a crime or something wrong
- Tight-fisted: mean; not generous with money
- Well-earned: deserved
- Self-reliant: independent
- Self-centered: selfish
- Ever-lasting: eternal
- Heart-broken: depressed
- Narrow-minded: inflexible
- Absent-minded: forgetful; likely to forget things
- Middle-aged: around 40-50 years old
- Quick-witted: intelligent, clever, fast at thinking and discovering things
- Strong-willed: strong desires, stubborn, does not desist
- High-spirited: with a lot of energy