Can there be a hyphen in “nonlinear”?

As the title says, I’m wondering if “non-linear” is an acceptable spelling of the word “nonlinear.”

A bit of research on this site turns up Is the use of a hyphen between “non” and an adjective strictly necessary?, in which Monica Cellio commented that some of these “non”-prefixed words have entered the language in unhyphenated form. This is the way I’m used to seeing “nonlinear.” But other people I work with spell it with the hyphen, “non-linear.” Is that valid, or should I point it out as a correction? (This is in a scientific paper going to publication; I wouldn’t care in a less formal context)

More generally, what reference(s) would I look at to answer questions like this in the future, about whether a particular compound can/should be spelled with or without a hyphen?


According to Hyphenated Words: A Guide

You would not use a hyphen with the prefix non unless it is before a proper noun.

Do not hyphenate words prefixed by non, un, in, dis, co, anti, hyper, pre, re, post, out, bi, counter, de, semi, mis, mega, micro, inter, over, and under (among others).

Examples: nonaffiliated, nonemergency, uninfected, inpatient, disorder, disbar, coworker, copayment, antismoking, antimanagement, hyperactive, hyperrealism, preoperative, prejudge, reoccur, readjust, resubmit, postoperative, posttraumatic, outpatient, outmoded, bimonthly, biannual, counterrevolutionary, counterculture, decompress, semifinal, semiannual, misinformed, misprint, megabyte, microcircuit, interconnected, interoffice, overempha­size, override, underrepresent, underestimated.

EXCEPTIONS: When the second element is capitalized, as in Un-American and non-English, a hyphen is used. Also, occasional exceptions exist where the prefix and the second element have not (yet) “grown together,” such as de-emphasize, pre-owned, co-op (to distinguish from coop) and anti-inflammatory (and all words with anti- prefix and second element beginning with i)

Source : Link , Question Author : David Z , Answer Author : Community

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