with Horse and Hound

Fox Hunting or Foxhunting?

nodh.klmKaren L. Myers photoI have been asked by writers, publishers, and even by just curious individuals over the years, which written form is correct—fox hunting (two words) or foxhunting (one word)?

From what I have seen, the style of the term most commonly used by people who do not hunt is fox hunting (two words). Supporting this choice is a highly respected reference book for writers and publishers, the Chicago Manual of Style, that recommends two separate words. To be sure, there are also some highly respected experts on hunting who also use the two-word version. So, you can’t go wrong using fox hunting. Nevertheless, I use the one-word form, foxhunting, in all my articles, books, and published material. Here’s why.

I write as a foxhunter to foxhunters. As a specialized publisher, knowledgeable about my subject, I believe I have the right to establish and follow a consistent style in certain arcane areas specific to my specialized  subject matter—a style that has been used over the centuries by other foxhunting experts. I claim this right because I and my readers are more familiar with the subject than the average non-foxhunting individual who might write about the subject. More familiar even than the Chicago Manual of Style, which in all other respects is my bible…despite its ill-considered (my opinion!) preference for fox hunting.

In the area of publications, the Chronicle of the Horse and Baily’s Hunting Directory use the one-word form, foxhunting. In most British publications, the term is hard to find in any form—one word or two words—because in that lexicon the single word, hunting, means foxhunting (or fox hunting). Other forms of hunting are referrred to as coursing (using sight hounds) or shooting (using guns).

As for associations, both the MFHA and the Irish MFHA use the single word form, foxhunting.

Considering well-known foxhunting authors of the last century, it’s a mixed bag, with the one-word usage in the majority for the small sampling I surveyed. Gordon Grand, A. Henry Higginson, Mason Houghland Alexander Mackay-Smith, Joseph B. Thomas all used foxhunting.

The (Eighth) Duke of Beaufort writing early in the twentieth century used “fox hunting.” And he sometimes hyphenated the two words. The hyphenated form, fox-hunting, was also used by David Gray, Mackinly Kantor, and Siegfried Sassoon, each a world-class writer in the genre.

Foxhunting or Fox Hunting: Conclusion
Among foxhunting people—a rather small population—the one-word form seems most prevalent. But among the mostly non-foxhunters who use the two-word form, there are individuals who are highly respected and knowledgeable about the sport. To conclude, I’d have to say, pick your own poison or toss a coin. You can’t be faulted for either preference.

Posted August 28, 2017