'Kickoff' or 'Kick-Off' or 'Kick Off': Where Should We Place the Hyphen?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 31, 2023

Have you noticed these alternative spellings for the same word: 'kickoff' or 'kick-off' or 'kick off'? If so, you might be wondering which one is correct. In this article, you'll learn the meaning of each word and how to use it.

In short, 'kickoff' and 'kick-off' are synonyms and are nouns that refer to the start of something.

'Kick off' is the verb form of these words.

What's the Difference Between 'Kickoff' or 'Kick-Off' or 'Kick Off'?

It might seem like a complex issue at first: all these words that look so similar can easily be confused. But don't worry; it's actually a lot simpler than it seems.

What Does 'Kickoff' or 'Kick-Off' Mean?

Firstly, 'kickoff' and 'kick-off' mean the same thing. It's just that 'kick-off' is more prevalent in the UK. They are both nouns.

For simplicity's sake, we'll just use the spelling 'kickoff' for the rest of this article, but remember they are interchangeable.

A kickoff is the start of something. You can use it in a wide variety of contexts, from sports to action plans or even events. Look at the following sentence, for example:

What time is the kickoff?

In the above sentence, the noun kickoff refers to the start time for whatever event is being referred to.

'Kickoff' can also function as an adjective. Remember, adjectives modify nouns, so make sure it's placed near a noun in this context. For example:

The kickoff campaign will launch tomorrow.

'Kickoff,' here, modifies the noun' campaign.'

What Does 'Kick Off' Mean?

'Kick off' is the phrasal verb for the noun 'kickoff.' A phrasal verb is two or more words that make a verb. The words can't be separated without affecting the meaning.

Some other common phrasal verbs we've covered include:

To 'kick off' something means to declare its beginning. For example:

The World Cup kicks off this weekend with a riveting match between two countries that have faced each other before.

But the phrasal verb has other meanings, too. Those include:

  • Force someone to leave
  • When an event gets rowdy, sometimes even violent
  • Remove your shoes
  • To die
  • The first ball kick in soccer

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Kickoff' or 'Kick-Off' or 'Kick Off'

Now that we're clear on each word's meaning let's look at its pronunciation. The good news is that all three are pronounced exactly the same. The International Phonetics Alphabet spells them like this:


And when you say them, they sound like this:


When to Use These Terms

Now let's take a look at some more examples of these terms used in a sentence. We'll look at 'kickoff' and 'kick-off' together, then 'kick off.'

Examples Sentences

The first throw of the dice will mark the game's kickoff.

It's customary to have a kick-off party to celebrate the start of any new project.

Management's putting pressure on us to launch a successful kickoff campaign.

They toss a coin to decide which team will take the first kick-off.

It looks like the kickoff has been delayed again.

And now some examples of the verb using variations of its different tenses.

The game is kicking off at 9 pm.

Go home, kick off your shoes, put your feet up, and enjoy a nice glass of wine. You deserve it.

The group was kicked off the team after their terrible behavior.

We chose to kick off the debate with a controversial statement for a good reason.

I'm working really hard, but my business just isn't kicking off the way I had hoped.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it: 'kickoff' and 'kick-off' are nouns that you can use interchangeably (though it's best to use the former if in the US and the latter in the UK), and 'kick off' is a verb.

Head to our blog to learn about more confusing words like these.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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