Neologism watch


neologism_defined_textured1 Languages are constantly evolving. Though purists may shudder at what they see as the degradation of ‘correct’ language use, innovative and new ways of using grammar, syntax and vocabulary show a bill of good health for a language.

 Here at TermCoord we are always on the look-out for new words that may be of importance to translators. Here are a few neologisms that have come to our attention lately. What do you think? Useful terms, or not?


An adjective meaning ‘without any impairment of or damage to the brain’, this term was coined by the autistic community to describe someone who is not on the autistic spectrum and has now been expanded to refer to someone not affected by any neurological disorder.

slut shaming

 ‘A process in which women are attacked for their transgression of accepted codes of sexual conduct, i.e., of admonishing them for behavior or desires that are more sexual than society finds acceptable’ ( Slut-shaming can often take the form of cyber-bullying, particularly of teenage girls and young women.

digital detox

 Mobile technology has such a central role in our lives now that sometimes we need to unwind with a digital detox; ‘a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online).


Coined by Breast Cancer Action for their Think Before you Pink campaign, pinkwashing refers to the ‘practice of using the colour pink and pink ribbons to indicate a company has joined the search for a breast cancer cure and to invoke breast cancer solidarity, even when the company may be using chemicals linked to cancer’. This term is also used to describe companies using the pink label who are misleading about their actual financial contribution to breast cancer charities.


Though not likely to be useful for the translators of the European Parliament, ‘selfie’ just had to be included in this list due to the sheer volume of times we have come across it during neologism research! This term for ‘ a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website’, has been added to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary and has been announced Word of the Year 2013 by the same. Is this popular neologism here to stay? Time will tell.

Article written by Sarah O’Farrell, translator and terminologist for Terminology Coordination Unit