Old Fashion or Old Fashioned – What’s the Difference?

There may come a day when a person will be able to order cocktails delivered to his or her door. If this day ever comes, you will want to be prepared with the appropriate spellings for all your favorite drinks so as not to confuse these futuristic mobile mixologists.

Is the popular whiskey drink an old-fashion or old-fashioned?

Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Difference Between Old-Fashion and Old-Fashioned?

In this post, I will compare old-fashion vs. old-fashioned. I will use each variation in at least one example sentence, so you can see how it appears in the proper context.

Additionally, I will demonstrate the use of a mnemonic device that makes choosing either old-fashion or old-fashioned easier in your own writing.

When to Use Old-Fashioned

old fashion versus old fashioned What does old-fashioned mean? Old-fashioned is an adjective phrase. Adjectives modify nouns by describing their qualities. This one describes something archaic, antiquated, or simply not up to date.

Most writers hyphenate this phrase, forming old-fashioned. This usage follows standard hyphenation conventions for adjectives used directly before the nouns they modify.

Here are a few example sentences,

  • Anthony, a middle-aged third-generation Italian from Philadelphia, had old-fashioned ideas about gender roles.
  • Genevieve’s bicycle had old-fashioned stem shifters that gave it a vintage appearance.

Old-fashioned can also be a noun, where it is the name of a classic whiskey-based cocktail.

Check out the examples below.

  • Tom ordered an old-fashioned, and when he had finished it, he ordered another.
  • Some bartenders will muddle lots of fruit, such as maraschino cherries, in whiskey and call it an old-fashioned. It is not. –The Washington Post

When to Use Old-Fashion

define of old fashioned define of old fashion What does old-fashion mean? Old-fashion is a variant of the same phrase, but it is seldom used, especially since 1900.

The chart below shows the relative usage of old fashioned vs. old fashion and the hyphenated old-fashioned in English since 1800.

definition of old fashioned definition of old fashion definition

As you can see, old-fashioned (hyphenated) is the clear favorite. Old fashioned comes next, probably due to its occasional use as a noun. The use of old fashion has steadily declined since 1900 (from an already low starting point) to almost zero today.

Trick to Remember the Difference

As an adjective, the hyphenated old-fashioned predominates over the other options by nearly an order of magnitude. It is the clear choice here.

In many cases, the name of the drink is still hyphenated, forming old-fashioned. In some cases, the name of the drink appears unhyphenated, forming old fashioned.

Old fashion is almost never used, unless you were literally describing fashion that is old. Otherwise, avoid this spelling.

Since both adjective and drink contain the letter D, and old-fashioned has an extra D, it is easy to remember to spell the word this way in most contexts.

Summary

Is it old-fashioned or old-fashion? Old-fashioned is an adjective that describes something outdated or archaic. It is also the name of a whiskey cocktail, which occasionally appears as old fashioned.

To summarize,

  • Old-fashioned is the correct spelling. It refers to something outdated or a type of cocktail.
  • Old fashion is a misspelling of the adjective phrase old-fashioned.