Definition and Examples of Neologism

Neologism in its literal sense, means “new utterance”; it refers to the creation of new words; any word which may be in the formation process or in its initial state of use, which has not gained legitimate acceptance.

It can also be a new meaning for an already existing word or phrase. Neologisms are often attributable to certain individuals, histories, publications, actions or any abstract phenomenons

Ways of creating new words

Plotnik (1996) identified six sources for creating new words:

  1. The creation of new words from scratch. This is often based on the stratagem of sounds and words relationship, as in the word “burp,” which sounds like the activity of that name.
  2. The act of borrowing from another language.
  3. Combination of words prefixes and suffixes of some words to create new words, e.g., breakfast and lunch, to derived “brunch”
  1. Shortening (e.g., some sub-cultures will “dis” someone (meaning to disrespect him or her), others will have “staff devo” meetings (meaning staff development)
  2. Portmanteaus or blending which entails combining and shortening e.g., Apple inc. use of the term “resolutionary” to describe its new computer monitor
  3. Shifting word meaning through new grammatical functions e.g., the transitive verb “hurl” [“She hurled the rock at the police”] acquires an intransitive meaning [“He hurled”].

Examples in the Literature

Many words in contemporary uses today, were once neologism in literature, and literature is the source of most words wildly used today, which of course were neologism in the then period. The following are some examples from the literature:

  1. “Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled
    with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green”

    — (Williams Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew)

    Here, the word “bedazzled” is formed, the word describes the shiness of the sunlight as portrayed in the lines in the poem.

  2. “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo And bring back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo A Nerkle a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too!

    — (Dr Suess, If I Ran the Zoo.)

Contemporary NeologismLiteral Sense
PeelTo explore the content of a website beyond the home page extensively.
ChilaxIntended as a verb, persuading someone to be calmed or relaxed
SpamTo upload over-surplus copies of a single file
AppA clientbased computer application
MintyUsed as an alternative term for cool
PipsologyThis word means the study of the trends of pips in forex market. It was coined to suggest a discipline that studies the movement of pips.
NoobIntended as a noun for a novice, especially on online community
Crowd-sourcingA term for collective effort of group of people when handling tasks or projects
CollabopetitorsReferring to the relationship among computer technology firms such as Microsoft, Apple, and Netscape
GoogleOften used as in “google it” intended as verb for searching information on the internet
Hashtag (#)Intended as noun, reference to a metadata tag used on social network and online platforms for easy access to specific web contents. Most commonly used on Twitter.
BlutterIntended as verb, to give a boring or tedious speech
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