The other day I was thinking, what is correct to write, wetsuit (one word) or wet suit (two words)?
The history of compound words is filled with dispute. In general, words tend to follow a particular pattern. Let's take the word basketball as an example:
basket ball -> basket-ball -> basketball
Two words are used together so much that they eventually take on an identity of their own, beyond their constituent words.
Here's where things get tricky. Some people (probably young whipper-snappers) like to move briskly through the three stages. This happens often with tech words. For example, electronic mail became e-mail, and, as I prefer, is often now written email.
There are others (usually old purists who don't like change), however, that insist that a word "pay its dues" for a while in the first two stages before it becomes a new, compound word all on its own.
So where does this leave us with wet suit? My guess is that by now it can be considered a compound word, with no space necessary. After all, wetsuits have been around for quite some time.
What about some validation? My computer's dictionary has an entry for wetsuit, one word. On the other hand, Merriam-Webster online returns my search for "wetsuit" with a two-word entry, wet suit. Same with dictionary.com. Interesting.
Dictionaries aren't backing up my position (well, at least 2 / 3 aren't), so I'll seek social proof.
GoogleFight allows you to enter two search terms and tells you who has more search results. The results: wetsuit has 275,000 results while wet suit has 933,000, over 3 times as much. This isn't definitive, though. Searching for wet suit will find instances of the two words not necessarily together, artificially increasing results.
Going to Google directly reveals that the search engine actually substitutes wet suit for wetsuit, giving you a helpful "Did you mean wetsuit" link at the top. So who do you believe, Google or an online dictionary?
Lastly, it is worth noting that Wikipedia's entry is for wetsuit, one word. Take from that what you will.
Henceforth, I'm writing wetsuit unless someone offers a compelling argument against it. While I'm at it, let’s go a little crazy and say "ditto for drysuit".
Any passionate linguists out there care to convince me otherwise?