Some of the spellings are always confusing. Writing them in one way or the other is usually taken synonymously. The first thing that you would have in your mind after reading this would be the difference between the British and American English. This is what particularly comes in everyone’s mind when talking about the different spellings of English. But we are not particularly considering this difference in the article. There are some other words such as Start up, Startup or Start-up that can be the cause of confusion. So, which is the right one? Let us shed light on each of these spellings.

Start up, Startup or Start-up

With same spellings and just the difference of space and hyphen in it, each of these words has a different meaning. It might not feel in general, but there are some instances in writing where you have to use the right word, or it can spoil the image of your entire message. So, for all such situations, we are highlighting the difference amongst these words and their meaning in detail.

a. Start up:

It is a verb, which is used for the indication of “starting of a particular activity.” As we are discussing the other forms of this word in the business context, so we would prefer to relate it with the starting of a business. Thus, in other words, if you are going to start up a new business, you can indicate it with “start up.” In other words, the emerging business is known as start up. Yes, the one with a space between the two words.

b. Start-up:

The use of this startup is a compound noun. The word startup can be used for the indication of a new business. However, it is not any new business that we are talking about. It is something deeper than just new business. It indicates the mentality and culture. Usually, the business being denoted as a startup is innovative and progressive in nature. You can expect these businesses to solve a newer problem of potential users or help them in getting more benefits.

The theme of a startup is not limited to the idea only; rather the business model of the businesses, which comprises of a unique feature, can also be termed as a startup, in the same sense, which has been indicated above.

c. Startup:

When it comes to the definition of startup, the research indicates that there is no such word as a startup. So, we cannot define it separately than the start-up. In order to give it a better explanation, let us assume the words e-mail and email. Which one is right? You will probably have to answer, both. Why? Because you know that both means the same. The omission of a hyphen between e and mail is just for saving time and making writing easier. Similarly, the word startup and start-up have the same issue. Most of the writers ease the process of writing by omitting this hyphen.

Can you use startup in place of a start-up?

Now, the question is can you use the word startup in place of start-up. We guess, yes you can. Although, we are not an authority to permit you writing a particular word in a particular way. But the analysis of the results from the research has revealed that a number of English magazines have been using startup to spell the word whereas nearly the same number of other magazines and newspapers use start-up as the right spellings. So, it is your choice how you want to take it.

Use of Startup or Start-up: what are magazines using?

The Economist, BBC and New York Times are the prominent newspapers and magazines that consider the hyphenated version of start-up authentic. They only use the hyphenated version in all their write-ups. In opposition to these magazines, the Washington Post and the Financial Times do not care much about the use of a hyphen between the words start and up. So, both of these types of writings have been found in these magazines.

Are you following the proper English norms?

Probably not. According to the real English language, you need to put a hyphen between these two words in order to make it a proper word. If you are concerned about the technicalities of the English language, then using start-up is the only right version. You cannot ease the writing process by using start-up.


Start up, Startup or Start-up are the three words that use the same alphabets but the change in the formatting makes all the difference. Technically, “startup is not a word. It is just a replacement of the word start-up. When it comes to the meanings, start-up means the business with an innovative idea or business model. In opposition to which start up means initiation of new business. So, remember the right usage of these words. Only, then you can expect your English writing to be perfectly well.

Do you know some other words with similar spellings but different formatting? If yes, then you can share them with us in the comments section.