Formatting new terms

December 2, 2019 9:15 am

new wordsIn this article, we focus on creation of new words – neologism. Why a new word is created? How a new term can be created and when does a neologisms stop to be “neologism”. I will try to answer these in order for all of us to understand the mechanism of word creation.

What is a neologism? The Cambridge Dictionary defines the neologism as a new word or expression, or a new meaning for an existing word.

Why new words are created? We create a new word when we can’t describe something using one of the existing words. Most of the times this refers to an invention, to a sudden situation, to new technology products, to a discovery. The creation  of new words in a language is the evidence that the language is evolving and growing. According to Global Language Monitor, around 5,400 new English words are created every year; it’s only the 1,000 deemed to be in sufficiently widespread use that make it into print.

Who is creating new words? It is estimated that Shakespeare was a master in creating new words. Scientists spotted more than 500 words first appear in his works. In generally, writers are behind many of lexical innovations. Popular examples of neologisms can be found in science, fiction, branding and popular culture. The law, governmental bodies, and technology have a relatively high frequency of acquiring neologisms. The value of each new term can be measured by the whether or not they will be used by people who speak the language.

How are words created ? There are 13 ways to create a word:

Derivation: Adding a prefix or suffix to an existing one.

Back formation: Removing a phantom affix.

Compounding: The juxtaposition of two existing words.

Repurposing: Taking a word from one context and applying it to another.

Conversion: Taking a word from one word class and transplanting it to another

Eponyms: Words named after a person or place.

Abbreviations: There are three main subtypes: clippings, acronyms and initialisms.

Loanwords: Use a word from certain language in  another language.

Onomatopeia: The creation of a word by imitation of the sound it is supposed to make.

Reduplication: The repetition, or near-repetition, of a word or sound.

Nonce words: Words pulled out of thin air, bearing little relation to any existing form.

Error: Misspellings, mishearings, mispronunciations and mistranscriptions rarely produce new words in their own right, but often lead to new forms in conjunction with other mechanisms.

Portmanteaus: Take one word, remove an arbitrary portion of it, then put in its place either a whole word, or a similarly clipped one.

When a term  stops being “neologism”? It depends on the use of the word. Imagine that the term “television” when it was first presented was a neologism. Over time, and given the success of this invention the term stopped to be a neologism and became a commonly known word, used very frequently.


Neologism, Cambridge Dictionary,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

Neologism, Wikipedia,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

Historical attitudes toward language, Brittannica,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

Neologisms and new words,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

New word – Neologism, Macmillan dictionaries,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

The history of english,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

Neologism, Literary terms,, Accessed on 27 November 2019

antonia pappa

Antonia Pappa – Communication trainee at the Terminology Unit

Born in Greece in 1992. She holds a Bachelor degree of Communication, Culture and Media and she worked, for three years, for a newspaper and food magazines in Greece. Antonia is now taking a Master’s degree in International Marketing and Communication and is working her thesis about social media advertising. In her free time, she likes travelling, doing yoga and going for a walk with her dog.

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