If you’ve been following the news the past few days, you’ve probably heard about Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s ties to a dogfighting ring. Or is it a dog-fighting ring? Or a dog fighting ring?
The first headline that I read regarding this story on cnn.com read as follows: “NFL star indicted over dog fighting.”
That has to be wrong, I thought. It should either be dogfighting or dog-fighting.
But which one?
If we’re talking about roosters, cockfighting is the correct term, not cock-fighting, and certainly not cock fighting.
For that reason alone, it would seem that dogfighting would be the correct term.
However, one could argue that cockfighting is a much more common term, as it’s the most common form of underground animal fighting. Everyone knows what cockfighting is — it creates an image in your mind of a tiny arena in a basement filled with smoke where men scream, swear and throw money down as the animals attack each other. I think it’s debatable that for that reason, the word should be dog-fighting.
After all, what would you say if it were a different animal?
The detectives uncovered a piranhafighting ring behind the market.
It wasn’t just a church basement: it was home to a criminal koalafighting ring.
Because these words are seldom put together, it makes sense to hyphenate them: piranha-fighting, koala-fighting.
It’s up to us to decide whether it should be dog-fighting or dogfighting.
By now, it seems that cnn.com has decided to go with dogfighting. Following that story, two more headlines have appeared: “Court: Vick to answer to dogfighting charges July 26″ and “Dogfighting a booming business, experts say.”
I’m going to side with CNN on this one, and say that dogfighting is the correct term. Because of this, it’s clear that the first headline, which is still on the site, is incongruent with the others and needs to be changed.
So, which term do YOU think is correct?