With back to school season underway, you may be wondering: is high school spelled as one word or two? This is a common question, as the term high school is not always written consistently. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: high school is two separate words.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over why you should spell out high school as two words and provide examples of proper usage in different cases.

We’ll start by looking at the origins of the term high school and its evolution over time. Next, we’ll review grammar and dictionary rules that confirm high school is two words. We’ll also go over examples of how to use high school properly in sentences and titles.

Finally, we’ll summarize the key takeaways and reiterate why two words is the way to go.

The History and Evolution of the Term High School

Secondary education has a long and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The concept of formal education beyond primary schooling began to emerge in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was during this time that schools were established to provide education to the wealthy and privileged.

However, it wasn’t until later that the idea of secondary education for all individuals regardless of social status started to gain traction.

The Origins of Secondary Education

The origins of secondary education can be traced back to the 19th century in countries such as Germany and France. These countries recognized the need for a more comprehensive education system that would prepare students for higher education or vocational training.

The term “secondary school” was used to describe these institutions, which focused on providing a well-rounded education in subjects such as mathematics, science, literature, and history.

Secondary education soon spread to other parts of the world, including the United States. With the growth of industrialization and the need for an educated workforce, secondary schools became more prevalent. However, the terminology used to describe these institutions varied.

When High School First Entered the Lexicon

The term “high school” first entered the lexicon in the United States in the early 20th century. It was used to describe secondary schools that focused on preparing students for college or university. The term “high” was used to signify the advanced level of education provided by these schools.

Over time, the term “high school” became more commonly used and was adopted by other countries as well. However, there has been some debate over whether “high school” should be spelled as one word or two.

How Its Spelling Has Changed Over Time

The spelling of “high school” has evolved over time. In the early 20th century, it was commonly spelled as two separate words: “high school.” This was the preferred spelling in many dictionaries and publications.

However, as language usage evolved, the trend shifted towards using “high school” as a compound word. This is the spelling that is now widely accepted and used in most dictionaries, style guides, and educational institutions.

It is worth noting that there may still be some variations in spelling, with some individuals and institutions continuing to use the two-word form. However, the most common and accepted spelling is “high school” as a compound word.

For more information on the history and evolution of the term “high school,” you can visit www.education.gov or www.history.com.

Grammar and Dictionary Rules: Why High School is Two Words

When it comes to the spelling of “high school,” many people are uncertain whether it should be written as one word or two. However, according to grammar and dictionary rules, “high school” is indeed two separate words. Let’s explore the reasons why this is the case.

Compound Modifiers

One of the main reasons why “high school” is written as two words is due to the concept of compound modifiers. In English grammar, compound modifiers are formed by combining two or more words to describe a noun.

In the case of “high school,” the word “high” is an adjective that modifies the noun “school.” By keeping the two words separate, we maintain clarity and ensure that the meaning of the phrase is properly conveyed.

For example, consider the phrase “high school students.” If we were to write it as “highschool students,” it could be misinterpreted as students who are somehow “high” or under the influence of drugs. By using two separate words, “high” and “school,” we eliminate any confusion and accurately describe the students who attend secondary education institutions.

Merriam Webster and Oxford Dictionaries Weigh In

When in doubt about the correct spelling or usage of a word, it’s always a good idea to consult reputable dictionaries. Both Merriam Webster and Oxford Dictionaries confirm that “high school” should be written as two separate words.

These trusted sources provide authoritative guidance on word usage and spelling, and their endorsement of the two-word spelling further supports the established grammar rules.

According to Merriam Webster, “high school” is defined as “a school that usually includes grades 9 through 12 or 10 through 12.” Oxford Dictionaries similarly define it as “a secondary school that typically includes grades 9 or 10 through 12.” Both definitions clearly indicate the two-word spelling.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering whether “high school” is one word or two, remember that grammar rules and trusted dictionaries confirm that it should indeed be written as two separate words. Embrace the power of proper grammar and spelling to ensure effective communication!

Proper Usage of High School in Sentences and Titles

Sentence Examples

When using the term “high school” in a sentence, it is important to understand whether it should be written as one word or two. The proper usage depends on the context and the specific style guide being followed. In general, “high school” is most commonly written as two separate words.

For example:

  • Correct: She attended high school in the suburbs.
  • Incorrect: She attended highschool in the suburbs.

However, there are instances where “high school” can be written as one word, especially when it functions as an adjective before a noun.

For example:

  • Correct: He is a high school teacher.
  • Incorrect: He is a highschool teacher.

It is important to consult the specific style guide being used, as some may have different guidelines regarding the usage of “high school” as one word or two.

Using High School in Book, Article, and Headline Titles

When it comes to using “high school” in book, article, and headline titles, the decision whether to write it as one word or two can vary. It ultimately depends on the style and preference of the author or publication.

Many popular style guides, such as the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook, recommend writing “high school” as two separate words in titles. This is to ensure clarity and consistency in writing.

However, there are instances where “high school” can be written as one word in titles, particularly when using informal or creative writing styles. This can add a unique flair to the title and make it more memorable.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to write “high school” as one word or two in titles should be based on the specific guidelines of the publication or the author’s personal style choices.

Other Common Style and Usage Questions

Abbreviating High School

When it comes to abbreviating “high school,” there is some variation in accepted practices. In most cases, “high school” is written out in full. However, in certain contexts, such as note-taking or informal writing, it is common to see it abbreviated as “HS.”

For example, students might jot down “HS” in their planners to refer to their high school classes. While this abbreviation is widely recognized, it is best to use the full term in formal writing to avoid any confusion.

Using High School vs. Secondary School

The terms “high school” and “secondary school” are often used interchangeably in different regions. In the United States and Canada, “high school” is the more commonly used term, while in the United Kingdom and some other countries, “secondary school” is preferred.

It is important to remember that these terms refer to the same educational institution and are used to describe the same level of education. If you are writing for an international audience or discussing educational systems from different countries, it may be helpful to clarify which term you are using to ensure clarity.

Regional Differences in Terminology

Regional differences in terminology can play a role in how “high school” is written and understood. For instance, in the United States, the term “high school” typically refers to the final four years of secondary education.

However, in some countries, “high school” can encompass a broader range of grades, including middle school or junior high school. It is essential to consider the regional context when discussing “high school” to avoid confusion.

If you are unsure about the terminology in a specific region, it is always a good idea to consult reputable educational websites or resources.

For more information on educational terminology and usage, you can visit websites such as https://www.education.gov.au/glossary-terms or https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/high+school.


So in summary, high school should always be written as two separate words. This applies in regular sentences, titles, and abbreviations. The two-word spelling has been preferred since the term first appeared in the 17th century, and continues to be the standard today.

While you may occasionally see high school written as one word, two words is the proper and accepted usage. Following grammar rules helps keep your writing clear and consistent. So whether you’re a student, parent, or teacher, be sure to spell it out – high school!

We hope this comprehensive guide has addressed your question and provided lots of great details on the proper spelling of high school. Two little words make a big difference. Understanding their proper usage will improve your writing across the board. Thanks for reading!

Similar Posts