The hyphen (‐) is a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word. The use of hyphens is called hyphenation. The hyphen should not be confused with dashes (‒, –, —, ―), which are longer and have different uses, or with the minus sign (−), which is also longer.
In terms of an orthographic concept, the hyphen is a single entity. In terms of character encoding and display, that entity is represented by any of several characters and glyphs (including hard hyphens, soft or optional hyphens, and nonbreaking hyphens), depending on the context of use (discussed below).
Although, as mentioned above, hyphens are not to be confused with en dashes and minus signs, there are some overlaps in usage (in which either a hyphen or an en dash may be acceptable, depending on user preference; discussed below) and in character encoding (which often uses the same character, called a “hyphen-minus”, to represent both the hyphen and minus sign entities; discussed below).