Team Building or Teambuilding

Doug Staneart  |  August 27, 2022
last updated

So is the correct spelling of a group development activity “teambuilding” or “team building”?

First of All, Is Teambuilding a Word?”

Is it teambuilding, team building, or team-building Is “Teambuilding” a real word? According to all current dictionaries, the answer is no. When you cram the two words Team Building together, it currently still creates a typographical error. If you are using a word processor or blog program, you might get a red line underneath the version that has the two words jammed together.

By the way, technically, the other version, “team building,” also doesn’t show up in or Merriam-Webster. It does appear, though, in the Cambridge Dictionary.

Team Building Definitionthe process of encouraging members of a group to work well together, for example by having them take part in activities or games.

So why do so many team-building websites have an obvious typo strategically placed all over their websites? Easy. Because so many people make this mistake, the owners of the websites will put both terms in the text of their websites. They do this just in case a potential customer mistypes the terms in a search engine.

Does it work, though? Of course, it does. Search engines are so advanced now that they will likely pull up the websites with either version of the term. Many webmasters want to play it safe, though, just in case. So if you happen to be on a website using both terms, don’t blame them. They are just trying to make it easier for you to find them.

My Dictionary Shows Both Team Building and Teambuilding. What Gives?

Teambuilding Is a New Closed Compound Word for Team Building The dictionary is constantly being updated. Since this term is so commonly misspelled, the word teambuilding now exists in some dictionaries. However, if you use it in your text, your spellchecker may flag it as a misspelling. Apparently, this creation of a new word out of a misspell happens from time to time.

According to Grammarly, this process is a Closed Compound Word. At one point, we didn’t use these words together. But they’re now accepted as a “real word” in the English language. Examples of these types of words include notebook, fireman, and bookstore. Originally, we wrote each of these words as note book, fire man, and book store. However, over time, because of common use, they have all become common spellings and are now in the dictionary.

Interestingly, my spellchecker now flags each of the three proper spellings of the original words as misspells. So, for each of the examples above, the correct spellings are now misspellings because the misspellings are now new words. Team building and teambuilding are currently going through the same process. Currently, Grammarly still shows “teambuilding” as a misspell. But, over time, this will likely change.

So, currently, the word closed compound word teambuilding hasn’t yet gained mass use yet. So, the most correct term now is team building.

Okay, Then. Is It Team Building or Team-Building?

Is It Team Building or Team-Building? For this, we have to say, “It depends.” If you look up the term “team building” in the Cambridge dictionary, the proper spelling is “team building.” The dictionary lists these two words as a single noun. So, when you use the terms as a noun, the proper spelling is team building.

An example is, “The game before the regular meeting is for team building.”

The phrase “team building” is a noun being used to describe the purpose of the game.

However, according to Grammarly, when you use the phrase as an adjective, you should use a hyphen.

Generally, you need the hyphen only if the two or more words are functioning together as an adjective before the noun they’re describing.

For example, “The team-building game took place before the regular meeting.”

So technically, if you use terms like team-building activities or team-building events, you should use a hyphen.

author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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