In loving memory of the 2015 NFL football season, this Grammar Rant focuses on the epic battle of America’s biggest game. No, I don’t mean the defensive showcase that happened on Sunday in Santa Clara. This Panthers fan isn’t ready to discuss that yet. I mean the name of the event itself. Is it the Super Bowl or the Superbowl?
Chances are you don’t care. You know what the event is, and if pressed, you probably wouldn’t be 100% sure you knew the correct answer even though it is imprinted on your brain for weeks leading up to the actual game. Going to the source itself, the National Football League, it is Super [space] Bowl. Sunday was the fiftieth Super Bowl.
If you look up search trends on Google (as the folks at OverthinkingIt.com have), you can almost pinpoint when the automated response on the world’s largest search engine was set to “Super Bowl.” However, it seems that the dominance of social media, limited character allowances, and spaceless hash tags such as #superbowl have let the confusion surface once again.
There are many different forms of compound words, and for a grammar nerd like me, it is comforting that you don’t often see someone call it the Super-Bowl. (Just in case you were wondering, my laptop doesn’t have an issue with “Super-Bowl”. Ironic!) Consider the following logic of this grammatical decision. The event is the bowl. The term super describes the bowl. Similar to the Great Depression being an economic depression that was of a great magnitude, the Super Bowl is a bowl game that is super in size and grandeur. The compound “Superbowl” – or heaven forbid, “Super-Bowl” – becomes a single noun and while arguably not incorrect, neither are the descriptive adjective and noun combination that make up the catchy moniker provided by Lamar Hunt to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1966.
Fun articles used while writing this piece:
- “Super Bowl” vs “Superbowl”: An American Spelling Crises?
- Origin of the Term “Super Bowl”
- Compound Words: When to Hyphenate