I received recipe newsletter from the Just A Pinch yesterday, the subject of which said Man Catching Fried Chicken. The recipe’s here.
When I read the subject line, I knew what the recipe’s submitter was trying to say when she titled it. This is a place where one tiny hyphen would have made a difference in the literal interpretation of the phrase. This is what immediately popped into my mind:
Actually, my mental image was better, but I don’t have the drawing skills to reproduce what’s in my mind’s eye!
When two or more words modify the noun that come after them, there should be a hyphen in between them (see Compound Modifiers).
Man-catching fried chicken implies, “This fried chicken is so good, it’s sure to catch you a man”. However, without that hyphen, the phrase means this: (The) man (is) catching fried chicken. The words in parentheses are assumed.