Compound Adjectives in English

What Are Compound Adjectives? A compound adjective is an adjective that includes more than one word.


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

  • narrow-minded

I can’t stand narrow-minded people who are intolerant of new ideas.

  • high-spirited

The students gave a high-spirited musical performance.

  • old-fashioned

We had lunch in an old-fashioned restaurant.

  • short-haired

He was dancing with a short-haired woman.

  • absent-minded

His absent-minded comment hurt his sister’s feelings.

  • strong-willed

She’s a strong-willed woman who won’t stop until she gets what she wants.

  • quick-witted

The quick-witted detective solved the crime before anyone else had a clue.

  • kind-hearted

A kind-hearted stranger helped us find the train station.

2. Adverb + Past Participle

  • well-behaved

They have three well-behaved children.

  • well-educated

A lot of well-educated people are still having trouble finding jobs.

  • densely-populated

This densely-populated area has the highest crime rates in the country.

  • widely-recognized

She’s a widely-recognized expert in technology.

  • highly-respected

Our speaker tonight is a highly-respected scholar.

  • brightly-lit

We live on a brightly-lit street in the city center.

3. Noun + Past Participle

  • sun-baked

We strolled along the sun-baked streets of Naples.

  • child-wanted

I wanted to buy my daughter the most child-wanted toy.

  • middle-aged

A lot of middle-aged men are dissatisfied with their lives.

4. Noun + Present Participle

  • English-speaking

United Kingdom is an English-speaking country.

  • time-saving

These time-saving techniques will help you work more efficiently.

  • record-breaking

The athlete’s record-breaking performance won him the gold medal.

  • mouth-watering

There was a variety of mouth-watering desserts at the wedding reception.

  • thought-provoking

It was a thought-provoking novel.

5. Adjective + Present Participle

  • good-looking

Who’s that good-looking guy over there?

  • long-lasting

This long-lasting makeup will keep you looking lovely day and night.

  • slow-moving

I was stuck in slow-moving traffic for over an hour.

  • far-reaching

The new law will have far-reaching effects in the economy.

6. Adverb + Present Participle

  • never-ending

Learning a language seems to be a never-ending process.

  • forward-thinking

Some forward-thinking politicians are proposing reforms to the educational system.

7. Noun + Adjective

  • world-famous

We had dinner at a world-famous Italian restaurant.

  • ice-cold

There’s nothing better than drinking an ice-cold lemonade on a hot summer day.

  • smoke-free

This is a smoke-free restaurant.

8. Adjective + Noun

  • full-length

The director produced his first full-length movie in 1998.

  • last-minute

It was a last-minute decision.

9. Noun + Noun

  • part-time

We have 20 part-time members of staff .

10. Adjective + Adjective

  • fat-free

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
  • ...


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Compound Adjectives in English

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