Lifelong, Life long, or Life-long? (Helpful Examples)

The word “lifelong” comes with a few problems. Do we need to write it hyphenated, meaning that “life-long” is correct? Or, better yet, is it one or two words? Maybe “life long” is the more appropriate spelling. Don’t worry; this article will answer your questions to help you!

Lifelong vs. Life long vs. Life-long

“Lifelong” is one word. It is the only acceptable choice in English. There is never a need to hyphenate the two words because “lifelong” already comes with an official meaning (and has had the same meaning for as long as the word has existed).

Lifelong, Life long, or Life-long?

It might help you to check out some statistics to see why “lifelong” is the most suitable spelling choice of the three:

According to Google Ngram Viewer, “lifelong” is by far the most popular choice of the three. Even though “life” and “long” are separate words, the one-word combination of the two comes with its own meaning, which is why it’s vastly more popular.

Lifelong, Life long, or Life-long - Statistics

In The Cambridge Dictionary and The Oxford Dictionary, “lifelong” is the only officially defined word. It is considered a one-word spelling whenever used, which is why it’s appropriate only to use it in this way.

Is “Lifelong” One Word?

“Lifelong” is one word. We use it whenever we want to show that someone or something has lasted a lifetime. Even though the two words “life” and “long” are included as part of the word, when they are combined, they come with their own meaning.

Some people have a habit of separating the words because they think it makes logistical sense. However, there is no reason why we would ever need to. In fact, it would be grammatically incorrect to separate the words (especially when they modify a noun).

Perhaps some of these examples will help you make more sense of it:

  1. We are lifelong buddies, and I don’t think we’ll ever find someone else!
  2. You should be lifelong partners! You’re literally made for each other.
  3. I don’t want to be in a lifelong position at work! I want to explore other avenues.
  4. This whole lifelong idea of yours isn’t something that appeals to me.
  5. I have a lifelong problem related to my knees, and I don’t know how to fix them.

Is “Life long” Two Words?

“Life long” is not typically written as two words. Since “lifelong” usually gets used as a modifier for a noun, it would make no sense to include “life long” as two words. If anything, it would be grammatically incorrect to consider this as an option.

But what do we mean by this? Well, look at the following:

  • We are life long friends

In the above examples, “friends” is a noun. “Life long” should be modifying it, but it is being used as two separate words. Therefore, grammatically speaking, only “long” is modifying the word “friends,” which is not what we want to achieve.

  • We are lifelong friends.

That’s why we want to keep it as one word, as you can see above. This way, we’re able to make sure that “lifelong” is the correct modifier with the intended meanings.

Here are a few examples to act as a reminder for you:

  • Correct: We are lifelong partners, and nothing can break us up.
  • Incorrect: I am a life long benefactor of the community.
  • Correct: You are a lifelong pain in my backside, but I love you, son.
  • Incorrect: This life long partnership of ours needs to come to an end.

Is “Life-long” Hyphenated?

“Life-long” is not hyphenated. “Lifelong” has always been recognized as a one-word spelling variation, and adding a hyphen to it would be seen as a waste of time. It’s redundant because “lifelong” has its own meaning already, and the hyphen does not aid us in changing that meaning.

These examples will help you to remember that:

  • Correct: We are lifelong workout partners.
  • Incorrect: You will be my life-long girlfriend. I already know that!
  • Correct: His lifelong partner is in hospital, and he’s heartbroken.
  • Incorrect: We are life-long friends, and we will never stop being that!

Is “Long” Capitalized In The Word “Life-Long”?

Usually, we would write about capitalization for hyphenated words in this section. However, since there is never a case where “life-long” is a suitable alternative to “lifelong” as one word, there is no need to worry about how to capitalize the hyphenated form.