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Re-create vs. recreate

The prefix re- can be attached to almost any verb without requiring a hyphen, but we tend to make exceptions with re- constructions that would cause confusion with no hyphen. Because recreate, meaning to amuse oneself with an activity, is a word in its own right, the verb re-create, meaning to create again, benefits from the hyphen. But because recreate is an exceedingly rare verb, there’s actually little chance of the two being confused, so many publications omit the hyphen and use recreate to mean to create again.

Although writers often drop the hyphen from re-create, other words still need the punctuation mark to avoid confusion—for example, re-search (meaning search again), re-count (count again), and re-sign (sign again).


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Examples

After tasting a version of this dish at a new London tapas bar, Morito, I tried to recreate it at home. [Guardian]

The German car maker says it worked for four years at its Porsche Museum in Stuttgart to recreate the car. [Wall Street Journal]

States that view it simply as a date all but guarantee that they will fail to recreate, and certainly never supplant, our role. [Boston Globe]

The maquettes recreate in miniature Koop’s major exhibitions of the past three decades. [Globe and Mail]

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Comments

  1. Although recreate is (virtually always) unambiguous, recreation is not, so re-creation should be used when “create again” is intended and the context does not make it unambiguous.

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