Friday, December 16, 2011

Oxcart, Ox Cart, Ox-Cart - Which one is right?

When working on Ox Cart Angel, I wasn't quite sure of the correct way to spell ox cart. Was is it oxcart, ox cart, or ox-cart? As I dug a little, I found the word spelled each of those ways, and finally decided to settle on it as 'ox cart' - two words - but it seems that any of those ways are acceptable.

For example, there is an Ox Cart Days celebration in both Crookston, Minnesota and Star Prairie, Wisconsin.

There's a well-loved picture book called Ox-Cart Man written by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney.

Winner of the Caldecott Medal!

However, Merriam Webster's online dictionary has the word appear as oxcart. (Hey, did you know the first known use of the word oxcart was in 1749?)

Wikipedia has it listed as both oxcart and ox cart.

The cart in Ox Cart Angel, though, might more appropriately be called a Red River cart, even though a Red River cart is at heart an oxcart (ox-cart? ox cart?) - just a little more specialized for the area it traveled and the cargo it typically carried. But Red River Cart Angel just didn't have the same ring to it as Ox Cart Angel. What do you think?

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