For most of my life ’till about a couple of years ago, I had only seen the spelling orangutan written to describe those delightful red-headed apes from the tropical forests of Borneo. Lately, though, I’ve increasingly been seeing a strange spelling in certain scientific publications I read: orang-utan, with a hyphen. Is there a particular reason why this hyphen was added? It’s strange, because usually in English, words evolve to have their hyphens and diacriticals omitted, not added.
The word “orangutan” comes from the Malay words “orang” (man) and “(h)utan” (forest).