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-esque

The suffix -esque, similar to the suffix -like, means in a manner of or resembling. It is in the category of English suffixes that we can attach to virtually any English noun without using a hyphen. Yet since the rise of software spell-check, which erroneously marks many -esque coinages as incorrect, writers have grown timid about attaching –esque without the hyphen. For example, the hyphen is not needed in any of these cases:

Ever since he showed up on the music scene as a marvelously talented teenager, there’s been a hint of Sinatra-esque swagger around Harry Connick Jr. [New York Daily News]

In previous versions, the beast has tended to be animalistic, even lion-esque. [Toronto Sun (article now offline)]

A cherry phosphate has always seemed wonderfully Capra-esque to me, even though I had no idea what was in it. [The Atlantic]

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But other writers are not so timid about adding the suffix to words—for example:

[H]is sharp suits and his love of a killer melody are Sinatraesque. [Arts Desk]

Smiling down, I would acknowledge my ferocious, lionesque producer. [Christian Science Monitor]

In large part that’s because Bates is brilliant at juggling Kelley’s Capraesque mix of the whimsical and the weighty. [Belleville News Democrat (article now offline)]

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