A made-up word. Like all the other words, but new. We like 'em. We make them.
Not to be confused with Personal Dictionary, which is pretending existing words mean something else. Compare Neologizer, for when using a large number of these is a character trait. Supertrope to Portmanteau.
See also Perfectly Cromulent Word.
- On alt.comics.2000ad, newcomer writer Simon Spurrier referred to a troll as an "arsegike", misspelling "arsehole" by typing the letters to the left of some of the ones he required. The term has now joined the standard 2000 AD lexicon, alongside phrases such as "zarjaz", "grexnix" and "Squaxx dekk Thargo".
- Tom Poes: This Dutch comic strip is well known for creating many neologisms in the Dutch language.
- Lobo frequently calls people "bastitches".
- Retcon, short for retroactive continuity, was popularized, if not coined, in the letters columns and commentary of All-Star Squadron.
- Peanuts famously coined the term "security blanket."
- The Far Side: One cartoon featured a classroom of cavemen, with the professor pointing at a picture of a Stegosaur's tail spikes: "Now this end is called the thagomizer ... after the late Thag Simmons." After it was found out that no term had indeed been coined for the spikes, "thagomizer" has since semi-seriously entered paleontologists' lexicon. Seriously enough that it's appeared in Nature.
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin, complaining about scientists' unimaginative naming, says that The Big Bang should have been called "The Horrendous Space Kablooie." Some physicists use that term now.
- Dilbert has coined terms like Pointy-Haired Boss for any clueless boss that has no real management skill.
- Buck Rogers invented the word "zap" as the sound a ray-gun makes.
- Arguably, "Gothically"/"Goffically" and quite a few of the other words (usually verbs or adjectives) in the infamous My Immortal.
- Forbiden Fruit: The Tempation of Edward Cullen gives us "plimpled". It's apparently a way of speaking, that can inexplicably be done "mutely".
- legolas by laura: "and then Legolas was happy for somerising."
- Mary and Max: Max indulges in this, going so far as to write a letter to the Oxford Dictionary suggesting some new additions, namely "Confuzzled" (confused/puzzled), "Snirt" (snow/dirt), and "Smushables" (groceries that were smushed at the bottom of the bag).
- Mary Poppins: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
- The Producers: "Creative accounting." In widespread use during the sale-and-leaseback frenzy of the late-1980s boom, a process which like so much accounting at the time, had the actual effect of converting equity into debt, to be serviced by future revenue streams already allocated to other purposes.
- Harold Ramis notes on the Ghostbusters (1984) commentary track, "I take full credit for turning 'slime' into a verb."
- Star Wars popularized droid, a shortened form of android even though it applies to all autonomous robotic creatures in the Star Wars universe, not just those that resemble humanoids. Although you'll hear the word in general use, you won't find it in any other commercial sci-fi media because it's actually a registered trademark of Lucasfilm. Verizon and Motorola had to get a license to use it as a mobile phone brand name.
- The german translation of flubber, Flummi, coined by the film The Absent-Minded Professor, became such a common term for bouncy balls, that Disney decided to leave the title of the remake untranslated to preserve its novelty value.
- 1984: Big Brother, doublethink, unperson, doubleplusungood and others, mostly derived from Newspeak. There are plenty of other examples from the novel, but "doublespeak" is a Beam Me Up, Scotty!.
- Isaac Asimov
- Dr Asimov coined "robotics" and it's worth noting that Asimov coined it accidentally: he assumed somebody else had already used it, due to its logical construction.
- Dr Asimov used the term "fundie" as an abbreviation for "fundamentalist" decades before it came into widespread usage.
- Words of Science and the History Behind Them: In the entry for "Rh Negative", Dr Asimov explains that the name for the rhesus monkey was entirely invented by the French Naturalist John Baptiste Audebert. From this name comes the Rh factor in human blood types.
- "Oobleck" from Dr. Seuss's Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a strange gloopy material that falls from the sky when the king demands a new kind of weather. The name has since been used for a non-Newtonian fluid (i.e. strange gloopy material) that you can make in your own home.
- The Book of the New Sun uses a variety of real but very obscure English words to describe concepts and entities in its far-future setting with no direct equivalents in our world. One of these repurposings that has taken off in other novels and wider society is "fuligin", originally an obscure word for soot, to mean a colour that is an ultimate black, so dark that objects of its colour reflect no detectable light at all and appear as merely featureless black splotches to the human eye. It has now been applied to recently-developed real ultra-black pigments, such as Vantablack.
- The book Brain Droppings by George Carlin has a list of "Words and phrases we should have," including "pocketry = a garment's pockets," "firmth = firmness" and "unpark = drive away."
- Brave New World: though it didn't create the word 'Soma' (Huxley borrowed the term for the unknown drug that ancient Hindus used to "bestride the Universe"), it is responsible for its modern popularity and connotations.
- The Roman poet Catullus coined the word 'basiationes' as a more decorative version of 'basia' - 'kiss', making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- A Clockwork Orange: "Horrorshow," a corruption of 'khorosho', the Russian word for 'good'. This book had an entire Future Slang, much of it based on Russian, some of which has trickled into common use. "Ultraviolence" and "droog" are some of the more popular ones.
- The narrator of Dostoevsky's novel Demons coins the term "Shigalyovism" ("Shigalyovschina", in Russian), describing the ideology of a minor character. A member of the town's secret cadre of nihilists, who range from laughable idiots to terrifying psychopaths, Shigalyov argues that it is legitimate to subject 90% of humanity to abject slavery in order that the remaining 10% may enjoy a utopian paradise. The term came into common usage in Russia during the Stalinist era, for obvious reasons.
- The Brazilian author João Guimarães Rosa (The Devil to Pay in the Backlands) is well known for using a lot of neologisms in his works, mostly of them very hard to translate, since they are all made-up to work in Portuguese.
- The Dresden Files has the eponymous Harry Dresden, resident snarker and coiner of silly names. "Chlorofiend" indeed... (Immediately subverted because nobody knew what a chlorofiend was, so he had to revert to plant monster.)
- Finnegans Wake: Source of the nonce word 'quark', later used by scientists to refer to a subatomic particle. It comes from a mispronunciation of the word "quart," and is not related to the German word Quark, meaning a type of cheese.
- At the time, some scientists (among them Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann of Caltech), were working on a theory that explained the way that protons, neutrons, and other hadrons as being composed of smaller particles. Feynman referred to them as "partons," since they were "parts" of the proton (and "on" being the Greek suffix meaning "thing" that can be seen in "electron," "proton," neutron," etc); but Gell-Mann objected that this was an unholy combination of Latin and Greek roots, and sought to come up with a better name. He eventually started calling them "quarks" after a line in Finnegan's Wake, and it caught on. Gell-Mann was being a little weird, but you know what they say, physicists have strange quarks.
- Done in-universe in Frindle; the main character sets himself up as unique by coining the titular synonym for "pen", and the whole novel revolves around its emergence into popularity and the reluctance of adults to accept it as a proper word. At the end of the story, "frindle" becomes popular enough to be added to the English dictionary.
- William Gibson coined "Cyberspace" in a short story (incorrectly attributed to Neuromancer). Gibson says that he was able to imagine it because he had absolutely no idea how computers worked; in fact, he was said to be disappointed by the real thing when he finally got around to getting a computer. "Meat puppet" was a Shout-Out to a band name. The same concept may or may not have been intended when the band was named, but Gibson definitely popularised the term.
- "Gruselett" ("Creeplet"), a nonsense poem by Christian Morgenstern. Consists almost only of made-up words that evoke a scary atmosphere. Translation attempt.
- Gulliver's Travels introduced the word 'yahoo' for a stupid loutish person, 'lilliputian' to describe something very small, and the lesser used 'brobdingnagian' to describe something very large.
- Harry Potter and "Muggle" — being a fairly obvious nonsense word, it had been used by other people first, but J. K. Rowling gave us the definition of "normal person outside of the group; outsider." The closest English equivalent is "gentile", which can refer to any outsider of a certain sec, be it a non-Jew or a non-Mormon. Of course, ethnic minorities usually have their own word for an outsider, e.g. goyim (Yiddish), gaijin (Japanese), and gadje (Romani). The fact that they all start with a "g" is a coincidence. The word dates back further to 1920s New Orleans slang for marijuana.
- Robert A. Heinlein:
- Stranger in a Strange Land: 'Grok': Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed, to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science, and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man.
- "Waldo": 'waldo': A device which is controlled by moving a model of the device; usually a pair of robotic hands that are controlled by sensors in a pair of gloves. This allows things to be worked on remotely or for someone to control a much larger/smaller version of their own hands.
- The term "grinch" has entered public lexicon thanks to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The term means someone who hates a holiday (particularly Christmas), and tries to make it miserable for everybody else.
- The nonsense word "fnord" was first used in the Principia Discordia, where it represented no clear meaning or part of speech and was never presented in any sort of identifying context. Illuminatus! popularized it, using it as a subliminal Brown Note. Today, it's used more as a shibboleth for Discordians and assorted fellow-travellers than anything else.
- James Fenimore Cooper is generally credited with either inventing or widely popularizing the name "Cora" in his novel The Last of the Mohicans.
- The word "ansible" was coined by Ursula K. Le Guin, and has since been appropriated by a great deal of science fiction for any device which allows faster-than-light communication, including right here on this site. (Supposedly it was a corruption of the term "answerable". Also an anagram of "lesbian", though the actual relevance of that tidbit is disputed.)
- The Lord of the Rings and J. R. R. Tolkien established "dwarves" as the standard plural of "dwarf" in High Fantasy; Tolkien had a valid philological reason for wanting to change the accepted spelling ("dwarfs" is a bad plural formation, and it's properly "dwarrow" from the Middle English formation). "Elves" was already the standard plural of "elf", but Tolkien did popularize the adjective form "elven" instead of the then-standard "elfin".
- According to some sources, Tolkien was under the impression that the plural was "dwarves" when writing The Hobbit. Then in LOTR he used the name "Dwarrowdelf" (delving of dwarves, the translation of "Khazad-dûm" into common speech), and then in the appendices he claimed as the translator that he always meant to do that.
- The Meaning of Liff, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, consists entirely of invented meanings for various place names. Entries include "Sheppey" (a distance roughly 7/8 of a mile, the closest distance at which sheep remain picturesque) and Zeerust.
- An idea directly swiped, without attribution (but with a belated and muted apology) from Paul Jennings's article Ware? Wye? Watford? which contains such gems as Letchworth: n. A libertine, and Wembley: adj. ('I feel a bit wembley') used of the feeling before taking to bed.
- According to Don't Panic: Douglas Adams and the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Neil Gaiman, it was directly swiped from Adams's English teacher, although Adams later aknowledged that he may have swiped it from Jennings. Ironically, it was then swiped from Adams and Lloyd by an ad agency under the name "Oxtail English Dictionary" - the title Lloyd came up with when using them as space fillers in the Not the Nine O'Clock News calendar prior to making them a book.
- Edward Lear and 'runcible'... whose definition he never hinted at. 'Runcible spoon' from "The Owl and the Pussycat" has been adopted as a phrase, but no one can agree on whether a runcible spoon is any spork, or specifically a spork with wide, outward-curving tines, or a spork with a knife edge on the handle, or some other kind of cool spoon. None of these can be right anyway, since he used 'runcible' to modify other nouns, so whatever it meant isn't spoon-exclusive.
- Paradise Lost:
- Lent the very word "pandemonium" to the language. We use it in English to mean chaos, but in the story it's actually an ordered, reasonable place. One demon suggests it so as to make a Heaven out of Hell.
- Adam mentions that everything Eve said appeared to be something called "veruousest." That isn't a real variation of "virtuous" and according to the Dartmouth commentary, it is "perhaps the ugliest word in all of Milton's poetry."
- In the 1943 Science Fantasy novel Perelandra, a character tries to put into words how sex will be transformed into an even greater mechanism of love after the Resurrection of the Dead. C. S. Lewis' Author Avatar helps out by coining the word "trans-sexual" to capture this Heavenly state of sex, unaware of its modern meaning. Lewis also coins "trans-gastronomic" for how the digestive system will be made to bring life while going beyond its current form.
- Peter Pan: Introduced the name 'Wendy', which was not a common English name before J. M. Barrie's character (it might have been an occasional shortening of the Welsh name "Gwendolyn," which is usually shortened to "Gwen" nowadays). It was derived from a toddler's inability to pronounce the letter R properly, so when she called JMB her "friendy," it became "fwendy-wendy."
- Karel Capek's play R.U.R. introduced the term "robot," meaning "indentured worker" in his native Czech, to mean an Artificial Human used to perform menial tasks, although these robots were biological. (According to Capek, it was his brother, Josef who suggested him the word). The term became universal in science fiction writing, and eventually came to use in the scientific mainstream to describe any machine that emulates a function performed by the human body.
- Richard Dawkins coined the term 'meme' in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, long before it had ever appeared on the internet.
- The word "baticeer" was coined by Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, in the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. It mean "one who trains bats" — and it's an anagram of the name "Beatrice," who Lemony Snicket dedicates all his books to.
- William Shakespeare invented numerous words and phrases during his career, "doorknob" and "eyeball" being only two of them. He also popularized the name Ophelia, which had been invented by Jacopo Sannazaro in the 15th century. Though many words attributed to him in fact are of earlier origin, Shakespeare indeed had a gift for coining new vocabulary. He did not let such a pesky thing as the lack of a relevant word stop him.
- Through the Looking Glass: Lewis Carroll invented quite a few nonsense words and assigned most of them definitions. Some of them have become adopted as real words:
- He coined the term 'portmanteau' to describe a word that is the combination of two other words (and therefore a subset of neologisms). It was already in use in English, but only as a term for a suitcase or traveling-bag.
- He was also responsible for "chortle," although the modern usage is different from the way he used it — "a cross between a snort and a chuckle".
- "Vorpal" was adopted by would-be decapitators everywhere after Gary Gygax popularized it in Dungeons & Dragons.
- The movements of Spinfer and Mawk in Welkin Weasels are described as "smooling". The narrator points out that this isn't a real word but it describes the action perfectly.
- Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the 1981 book by Gary Wolfe, (which was the basis for the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit) introduced the word "Toon" as a name for a cartoon-type character. This is also a common synonym for one's avatar or character in various role-playing games.
- In Sam, Bangs & Moonshine, Sam uses the word "flumadiddle" to mean lies.
- Stephen Colbert. While "Truthiness" already had an archaic (different from the modern) definition, "Wikiality" is a whole new word.
- In 1995, Conan O'Brien was looking for a word to outwit the censors. He came up with the word "Crunk". Ice-T used the word several times during the broadcast. Nowadays, there's barely a rapper alive that doesn't have "crunk" in his vocabulary... and there's now even an entire genre of music named after it...
- As discussed on an episode of QI, the sketch show Not the Nine O'Clock News once used "flange" as the collective noun for gorillas — as in "a pride of lions," "a pod of dolphins," "a flange of gorillas." It was just a joke, such as you might expect from a comedy show, but apparently some people took it at face value and the term has been adopted by academics, but to refer to baboons. The collective noun for gorillas is congress.
Stephen Fry: What's the collective noun for a group of baboons?
Rich Hall: The Pentagon.
- On Not Necessarily the News, Rich Hall created a segment which encouraged viewers to write in examples. The segment was called "Sniglets", which was defined as "Words that should be in the dictionary but aren't." Some examples include
- Agonosis — When someone tunes in to Wide World of Sports every Saturday afternoon just so they can see the "Agony of Defeat" ski jumper guy wipe out in the opening credits note .
- Bovilexia — The uncontrollable urge to lean out the car window and yell "Moo!" when passing cows.
- Carperpetuation — repeatedly vacuuming a piece of lint or other object stuck on a carpet, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then throwing it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.
- Elacceleration — The mistaken belief that the more times you press the call button, the faster the elevator will arrive.
- Esso Asso — When a person tries to avoid a traffic light midsection by driving through a corner parking lot (where there usually stands a gas station, hence the 'Esso' part).
- Flopcorn — kernels of corn in a bag of popcorn that fail to pop. Interestingly enough, a maker of microwave popcorn used the term in a printed advertisement. (There is a word for unpopped popcorn in the business. They're called "old maids".)
- Krogt — the silver coating on lottery tickets or game pieces that you scratch off with a quarter
- Lactomangulation — opening the "illegal" side (the one that says "open other end") on a milk carton (after accidently mangling the 'legal' side in a failed first attempt to open it)
- Pie-librium — The point when eating a piece of pie that the weight of the crust outweighs the weight of the filling and it topples backwards.
- Potentater and Minutater — The largest and smallest fry in an order of French fries, respectively.
- At least one of his made up words — Spork, the half-fork, half-spoon one gets from Kentucky Fried Chicken — has indeed been accepted into general usage.
- Older Than They Think: The word "spork" appeared in the 1909 supplement to the Century Dictionary, where it was described as a trade name and "a 'portmanteau-word' applied to a long, slender spoon having, at the end of the bowl, projections resembling the tines of a fork".
- When you have more hotdogs than buns, you have excess weinerage; when you have more buns than hotdogs, you have excess bunnerage; when you have the same amount of hotdogs and buns, you are frankqualized.
- Doork - a person who always pushes a door marked pull, or vice versa.
- In Blackadder, Edmund torments Dr. Samuel Johnson by making up words such as "contrafibularities", "anaspeptic", "phrasmotic", and "interphrastically".
- Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- The Internet term "spam" was derived from the infamous "SPAM" sketch.
- They're also responsible for the lesser-known word "splunge", which has the somewhat baffling definition of "yes or no at the same time without being indecisive."
- Van Kooten En De Bie: This Dutch comedic duo inspired several words and expressions which are difficult to translate in English.
- Saturday Night Live had Will Ferrell in character as George W. Bush.
Jim Lehrer: Sum up, in a single word, the best argument for your candidacy. Governor Bush?
- Steve Miller spoke of the "Pompatus of Love" in "The Joker" and the earlier, less well-known song "Enter Maurice." This word, spelled "pompitous" in the printed lyrics of "Enter Maurice," was a corruption of "puppetutes" (a portmanteau of "puppet" and "prostitutes"), which was used in the Medallions' 1954 hit "The Letter."
- Unhalfbricking, the title of Fairport Convention's third album, came about in the course of a word game the band were playing to pass the time between gigs. The idea was for each player in turn to add one letter at either end of a word, in such a way that the resulting fragment could be the beginning of a real dictionary word but not such a word itself.
- A 1530 translation of The Bible misinterpreted the name "Azazel" as "ez ozel," literally meaning "goat that departs." This eventually changed through Memetic Mutation to "escape goat," then to the modern "scapegoat." So, the word scapegoat literally originated from a Rouge Angle Of Satin. Azazel is a combination of two words meaning 'goat' and 'disappear'. The Latin Vulgate translates the Hebrew as capro emissario, or 'emissary goat' or 'scapegoat'. The Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew as 'the one carrying away (averting) evil.'
- The Deadly Rooms of Death series extends "once, twice, thrice" as follows: quarce, quince, sence, septence, octence, novence. All of these combine Latin numeric prefixes with the "-ce" ending of the first three. They have begun to show up in other places outside the series.
- NetHack uses the word "cornuthaum" for a wizard's pointed hat. The hat existed in media before, but the word was specifically made up for use in NetHack.
- Septerra Core. The title contains "Septerra" which is the name of the planet the game takes place on. However, "Septerra", while a made-up word, can be taken to mean "Seven Lands", which is Fridge Brilliance because the game contains exactly that.
- Webcomic artist David Willis accidentally invented the exclamation "wiigii!" by typing the word "woohoo!" with the right hand shifted one spot to the left. It became the favorite expression of the title character in It's Walky!.
- Koan of the Day often prefixes words with "zen," creating neologisms such as "zenlightenment" or "zentertaining."
- Homestuck: The author loves making up words. For example, device that instantly brings a targeted object to itself is called an appearifier instead of a teleporter.
- Dream High School on Page 35: "Her eyes saucericize."
- Much like the "flange of baboons" example above, RPGMP3 is attempting to popularize "shower" as the collective term for a group of bastards. Perhaps after this exchange in an episode of Father Ted? ("Shower" is common Irish slang.)
Father Ted: What was it he used to say about the needy? He had a term for them...
Father Dougal: A shower of bastards.
- Google. Its usage as a verb has become so widespread that it is now in the dictionary.
- Named after googol, which is also a neologism, and means 1.0 * 10^100, a one followed by a hundred zeroes and was invented by a 9 year old boy. The Other Wiki has details.
- And of course, there is the googolplex. The name of the headquarters of google, this is the number 1, followed by a googol of zeros.
- If you need proof that TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Vocabulary (and the vocabularies of everyone around you), "Narm" (for what is technically referred to as "bathos"note ) and the verb "to xanatos" have already left their mark on the Internet.
- SMBC Theater presents: the Shitbag. Combination of shithead and douchebag.
- Warning: It will eat your fucking Olive Garden leftovers and leave its laundry in your hamper like you're its goddamn maid.
- Suggested treatment is a direct injection of cold motherfucking steel directly to the shitbag's perpetually smug face.
- Not even remotely attributable to SMBC — it's been British Slang for decades. It's shorthand for an insult: someone who is "a bag of shit" (interchangeable with "Scumbag").
- Twitter: "Tweet". There's currently a battle of wills going on at the New York Times to decide whether to use it as a verb in stories referring to Twitter, or just go on saying that someone "said on their Twitter account" blah blah blah. Just as long as they don't use "twat" for the past tense form. See also the question "how many tweets make a twat?" which only really works in British English.... On the other hand, "Tweet" has an older meaning as an onomatopoeia for a weak chirping sound, so it's not exactly a new word.
- Website Urbandictionary has been the repository of neologisms since 1999.
- Woot. Not as famous as Google, but it has found its way into a number of dictionaries. WOOT purportedly stands for We Own the Other Team. Alternatively, it's a portmanteau of "Wow, loot!"
- Whateley Universe: Buttercuppy: From The Three Little Witches:
A figure appeared out of the gloom, conspicuous in a bright yellow dress with an eye-catching ruffled skirt. Guys? she called. You there? Im not too late, am I?Clover? What IS that youre wearing?Oh this old thing? Oh, Ive had it hanging in my closet forever and-Why did you wear THAT? Pally demanded, waving her arms in the air.Oh, I was just feelin buttercuppy today, Clover giggled as she stuck out her tongue and twirled around.Clover, buttercuppy isnt even a word.Yes it is! How could I say it, if it wasnt a word?
- When it's first used:
Hey, if we were trying to break into that house WHY would she be wearing yellow? Pally pointed at Clover.You were feeling buttercuppy?YEAH! Clover piped, Buttercuppy! SEE? Buttercuppy IS a word!
- And then again, presumably due to security spying on them. Or just coincidence... Which might not be so coincidental, given Clover's luck powers:
- A popular Vine inspired the use of the word "yeet" to mean "to throw something with great force".
- The Simpsons has produced a number of neologisms which have come into varying degrees of common use.
- In particular, Retirony and Perfectly Cromulent Word are named for terms originating on the show, as well as the popular remark "Meh" and the term "Jerkass".
- Note that the Wiktionary link for "embiggens" dates the coinage at 1884: the Simpsons merely popularized it.
Jebediah Springfield: A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
- The Simpsons' use of "D'oh" wasn't new. It was a copy of James Finlayson's usage of the term. For those who don't recognize the name, Finlayson was a friend of Stan Laurel and frequent actor in Laurel and Hardy films — usually as the moustachioed antagonist. He introduced both "D'oh" and the Double Take to comedy film.
- Titan Maximum's "replacement", Titan Megamum.
Troy Hammerschmidt: Titan Maximum, say hello to Titan Megamum. The most advanced robot ever built and the perfect match for the most handsome pilot ever born.
Sasha Caylo: Titan Megamum? Megamum isn't even a word.
Troy Hammerschmidt: Neither is vaginacillin, but that didn't stop you from using it as the title for your third album... or your fragrance line.
- People with various mental/neurological conditions and brain injuries are prone to forming neologisms of their own, which are often consistent enough that families and friends learn and use them. Typical toddlers, while learning to speak, may also form neologisms.
- Quiz. Opinions differ, but a commonly held belief is that the word came up because of a bet that someone could create a word and have it be absorbed into the public lexicon within a week. It was chalked on the walls around Dublin sometime in the 1800s, and was soon talked about enough -- by people assuming that the act was some kind of test -- that it made its way into the lexicon.
- In 2004, George W. Bush referred to "the Internets" in a presidential debate. In 2006, Alaska senator Ted Stevens defined the internet as "a series of tubes." Today, "the tubes of the internets" — sometimes shortened to "the intertubes" — is a perfectly cromulent expression in some circles, and has even been used by the MythBusters.
- The word blurb originated in 1907. American humorist Gelett Burgess's short 1906 book Are you a bromide? was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner. The custom at such events was to have a dust jacket promoting the work and with, as Burgess' publisher B. W. Huebsch described it:
"the picture of a damsel languishing, heroic, or coquettish anyhow, a damsel on the jacket of every novel"
- In this case the jacket proclaimed "YES, this is a 'BLURB'!" and the picture was of a (fictitious) young woman "Miss Belinda Blurb" shown calling out, described as "in the act of blurbing." The name and term stuck for any publisher's contents on a book's back cover, even after the picture was dropped and only the complimentary text remained.
- Gerrymander (v) - to improve prospects for re-election by tampering with electoral boundaries or populations. Named after one such redrawing by Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry in 1812, resulting in one particularly convoluted constituency that resembled a salamander. It was then referred to as the "Gerrymander" by the Boston Centinel.
- During prohibition, a magazine held a contest to create a word for a person who illegally drank alcohol. Mr Henry Irving Dale and Miss Kate L. Butler both sent in the winning entry, scofflaw, and thus shared the $200 prize. This word is still used today for anyone who ignores a minor law.
- Alex, the Grey Parrot that was the research subject of Irene Pepperburg, had difficulty learning how to pronounce "apple", and created "banerry". A linguist colleague of hers suspected it was a portmanteau of "banana" and "cherry", reasoning that the apple might taste a bit like a banana to the bird, and looked like a giant cherry.
- Alex also used corknut for almond, which was later used by Margaret Atwood in Oryx and Crake.
- The Washington Post often holds a contest to create a new word by adding or removing a letter from an existing one. One of the winners: "Sarchasm" - the gap between someone being sarcastic and the listener or reader who doesn't get it.
- It stands to reason that every word had to be made up by somebody. Thus all words were originally neologisms.
- Know what "Dord" means? Density is represented in science by D, or alternatively by d. This was submitted to Webster's Dictionary as "D or d: a term used in science to mean density." Of course, someone misread it, and for six years "Dord" was in the dictionary.
- Santorum. (n) 1) The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex. 2) Former Republican Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
- Buckminster Fuller was so prone to creating these that even The Other Wiki felt the need to include a fairly substantial section about it in his article.
- Back-formation is what it is called when you make a new word by removing or replacing a suffix or prefix (or something that looks like one but isn't) from an existing word. English has a very large number of these so there can be a lot of surprises when you look what words came first. For example, many english verbs were made by removing the -tion, -er, or -ing ending from a noun.
- For one example, the word "Helicopter" owes its roots to "helico" and "pteron", which became the French word "Hélicoptère" - despite this, the back-formation "-copter" is often used as a suffix, such as the old emjoi "ROFLcopter"
- The Krieger family of Boston, who lost husband and father Neil Kreiger to the Covid-19 virus, are campaigning to get a word added to the dictionary in his honor. The word, "orbisculate", is one he'd invented in college for a class assignment; it refers to having liquid, glop, or grease squirted on you by your food or beverage.