Build up vs. buildup

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The one-word buildup is only a noun or an adjective. It does not work as a verb. When you need a verb meaning to develop by degrees, to accumulate, or to bolster, use the two word phrasal verb build up.

Some publications, especially British ones, favor of the hyphenated build-up instead of buildup. But compound words like this almost always lose the hyphen in the end. Some words take a little longer than others.


Although build-up has some proponents, buildup appears throughout the English-speaking world—for example:

A buildup of gas in a reservoir drop shaft might have been the cause of an explosion. [Chicago Tribune]

Britain has kicked off a global advertising campaign as the international buildup to the 2012 Olympic Games in London continues. [Independent]

Then when Taylor did return to the boat after his surgery, the truncated buildup meant they lost precision. [New Zealand Herald]

And build up is the correct term when you need a verb—for example:

As Mississauga tries to build up its downtown from scratch, it’s adding two more parks and a campus of Sheridan College. [Globe and Mail]

The same thing happens with supersonic jets. As they fly faster than the speed of sound, they build up a shock wave in front of them. [Wired News]

But its efforts to build up its stake are being frustrated by the jewellery company Warren James. [Guardian]