It seems like my TeX does not hyphenate the word "paraboloid" on its own. After adding \hyphenation{para-boloid} (I hope that's the right hyphenation...) to the preamble everything is fine.

My question is: How can I tell whether this (or any other word) is an instance where TeX fails to hyphenate or is it happening because of my setting (e.g. packages in use)? The reason I'm curious here is that I don't consider paraboloid an exotic word, and thus I'm surprised it is not hyphenated automatically.

  • 1
    Barbara Beeton maintains a hyphenation exception log. – user10274 Jan 8 '14 at 13:51
  • It's an excellent question, though I'm not sure I agree with a hyphen after the letter "a" in "paraboloid". My dictionary says "pa-rab-o-loid". – Steven B. Segletes Jan 8 '14 at 13:55
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    Indeed, in ushyphex.tex (available in TeX Live), we find pa-rab-o-loid at line 695. For loading this exception list, just do \input{ushyphex.tex}. – egreg Jan 8 '14 at 13:57
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    you can use \showhyphens{paraboloid} to see how tex hyphates this (or any other) word – David Carlisle Jan 8 '14 at 14:03
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    the u.s. "exception log" can be viewed as a pdf file on ctan. (i'm working on an updated version; should be available soon.) – barbara beeton Jan 8 '14 at 14:31

whether paraboloid is ‘exotic’ is a matter of personal experience, i think. i've a mathematics degree and it doesn't surprise me at all, but my wife (with a music degree) may think differently...

in answer to your question, “how do i tell?”, try \showhyphens in a plain tex run. for me, \showhyphens{paraboloid} witters about an underfull box, but says

    [] \tenrm paraboloid

whereas, for a word tex can hyphenate, we get

    * \showhyphens{peapod}
    Underfull \hbox (badness 10000) detected at line 0
    [] \tenrm pea-pod

fwiw, i have an oxford (pocket-sized) dictionary of "spelling and word divisions". it gives


but of course, that's the dreaded british english hyphenation, and probably doesn't work on the next continent to the left...

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    You'd deserve +1 just for the fun! If I activate the British hyphenation patterns, I get para-bol-oid. Probably Britons are more into mathematics than their cousins on the other side of the pond. – egreg Jan 8 '14 at 14:22
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    @egreg of course the british patterns give the same result: they come from the same database as the book, by kind permission of the oxford university press. i think i was supposed (as a member of uk tug committee) to sign to say i wouldn't "leak" the content of the database. i didn't sign, but never actually got anywhere near the raw data. – wasteofspace Jan 8 '14 at 14:32
  • I would say that the British are more accurate here. Etymologically "paraboloid" is a compound word, as hyperboloid, with the Greek prefix παρά, and certainly for legibility, the best place for a hyphen in such words is at the end of the prefix. Or someone would accept "param-edic", for instance? – Fran Jan 9 '14 at 0:22

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