Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Dictionaries Deem "Voice-Over" As Proper Spelling


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

March 27, 2012

Comments (12)

Vintage microphone on the stage with pink, purple, bluish lightsDo you remember a debate we had some time ago over the proper spelling of the word voice over?

We've been informed by an established editor in the publishing business that the spelling "voice-over" is the way to go!

A number of dictionaries also agree.

Find out more in today's VOX Daily.

Is it Voiceover, Voice Over, or Voice-over?

How do you spell out the long form of the acronym VO?

Heavyweight Merriam-Webster settles the debate with their definition here:

Voice-over - noun \ˈvȯis-ˌō-vər\

a : the voice of an unseen narrator speaking (as in a motion picture or television commercial) b : the voice of a visible character (as in a motion picture) expressing unspoken thoughts

: a recording of a voice-over

Grammar Girl Agrees

What's more, The Oxford Dictionary (thanks, Grammar Girl!) also espouses the hyphenated "voice-over" as the accepted and proper way to write our beloved noun.

The Oxford Dictionary defines voice-over as:

a piece of narration in a movie or broadcast, not accompanied by an image of the speaker.

Did You Find Anything Different?

If you were able to locate a different version of how voice-over is spelled as it relates to what we do, be sure to comment with a link to what you've found! Alternatively, if you'd like to share your own definition of the noun Voice-Over with us, please do.

Best wishes,


©iStockphoto.com/James Steidl

Related Topics: dictionary, industry


    I've notified the Grammar Police :)

    Posted by:

      Yes, "voice-over" and "voice-overs" (plural) is the proper spelling. I have reasearched this also. People use different variations, but in my opinion dictionaries should be used (extensively) in order to be correct in all definitions of words. We live in a world today where a lot of folks like to make up different definitions of already established words (including spellings), thus making communication more difficult.

      Posted by:

        I believe the majority rules in this case. I don't care how the OED spells it. It will henceforth be known to all the world as "voiceover" because that hyphen key is such a pain to hit.

        It's time to rise up against "the Man" and show him we will not take this lying down.

        It's time to gather together at the offices of these know-it-alls and change their world, for once, to tell them how it's going to be.

        All for the simple reason that we all need another excuse to get out of the house and socialize.

        Posted by:
        • Bob Hurley
        • March 28, 2012 8:39 AM

          Hi Stephanie. This issue has troubled me because I pay a lot of attention to English grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc; and am somewhat fussy about it all...perhaps overly so.
          Using "Voice-Over" as THE spelling makes sense architecturally relative to the structure of English words and I am glad the various dictionary versions support that. Different spellings of voice-over used in our trade have caused me to take notice and what we should now do is get the word out about how it should be spelled such that the industry spells the term one way. Voices.com is the only entity within our industry who has bothered to look at how to use the term correctly. In articles and blogs it might not matter but in order to obtain precise, crisp and speedy SEO performance and results, how we spell the term could make a difference. Thanks for sharing this subject!

          Posted by:
          • Daniel Goldman
          • March 28, 2012 9:07 AM

            I'm working on the perfect inflection of that hyphen.

            Posted by:

              Voice-over is in the traditional transition phase: voice over; voice-over; voiceover is the final phase.

              Posted by:
              • John Andrews
              • March 30, 2012 8:58 AM

                I'm with Bob. It's time to rise up against The Man. For those of us who blog about the Voice Trade and a lot of other hyphenated phrases, inserting one more punctuator into the mix is gonna be a pain.

                I get what Daniel Goldman's saying about standardized spelling being a good thing for SEO. But truly effective SEO seems to be a phenomenon rarer than Bigfoot sightings, so I try not to worry too much about it. (Being at the tippy-top of a page of wild-card Google search results might make a voiceoverist feel good, but does it really translate into long term clients willing to pay realistic rates?)

                And I'm pleased to see John Andrews' evolutionary point that longtime unhyphenators (like myself) are actually not wrong...we're just a bit ahead of the curve.


                Posted by:

                  In reply to Bob Hurley and Billy James: Using the correct form (voice-over) is much more a courtesy to readers than an SEO consideration. Voice over means something different from voice-over. If you use "voice over" when the context demands "voice-over," you cause your reader to re-trace his or her steps, using the correct interpretation of the words.

                  When you bellyache about having to move your fingers a tiny bit more to be correct, you are, rudely, indicating that your time is more important than your readers'. Rightfully, those readers should abandon you because of that attitude.

                  Posted by:
                  • Michael Dodson
                  • April 4, 2012 3:04 PM

                    @Billy: "inserting one more punctuator into the mix is gonna be a pain"

                    Seriously? Typing one character is a "pain"?

                    Is hitting the shift key to make "pointless" capitals a pain too?

                    Where does laziness have to give way to correctness?

                    Or should the lazy all win?

                    Posted by:
                    • Shadow Radiance
                    • April 4, 2012 5:46 PM

                      Very informative thank you.

                      Posted by:
                      • Dennis Dionisio
                      • April 4, 2012 7:04 PM

                        I totally agree with Bob, and not just because he's a great guy!
                        Here we are dealing with the subtle nuances of language, and it has to be said that English is constantly developing and changing because people speak and write according to how they feel, not rigidly following the rules.
                        There are so many examples of how vocabulary and grammar have changed because of this, not to mention the huge numbers of new words added every year. Personally I dislike the hyphen and space spellings because "voiceover" gives a certain unity. Yes we use the "voice" but is it always "over" - sometimes it is central to the production, and at other times may even be in the background or "under". "Voiceover" is clear and cohesive - let's stand up and have the dictionary writers recognise the importance of our work!

                        Posted by:

                          Sorry, I've been spelling it as voiceover since it first became known (to me, anyway) back in the late '70s. I don't see the point of the hyphen ~~ just another unnecessary roadblock (why isn't that word hyphenated?) to easy writing.

                          Posted by:
                          • Kathie
                          • March 3, 2013 8:03 AM

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