Neologisms are newly coined terms, words, or phrases, that may be commonly used in everyday life but have yet to be formally accepted as constituting mainstream language. Neologisms represent the evolving nature of the English language. Over time people create new words that express concepts or ideas that were previously expressed using other words or use words that may not have existed at all. Neologisms can be completely new words, new meanings for existing words or new semes in existing words. Here are some examples of neologisms that are finding their way into modern-day English language.
Examples of Social Networking and Technology Neologisms
- Google: To use an online search engine as the basis for looking up information on the World Wide Web.
- Tweet cred: social standing on Twitter.
- 404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message 404 Not Found, meaning that the requested document could not be located.
- Crowdsourcing: The activity of getting a large group of people to contribute resource to project, especially by using a website where people can make contributions.
- Spam: Flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.
- Geobragging: Repeated status updates noting your location in an attempt to get attention or make other people jealous.
- App: Software application for a smartphone or tablet computer.
- Noob: Someone who is new to an online community or game.
- Troll: An individual who posts inflammatory, rude, and obnoxious comments to an online community.
- Ego surfer: A person who boosts his ego by searching for his own name on Google and other search engines.
Examples of Popular Culture Neologisms
- Tebowing: description of a prayerful victory stance derived from NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
- Brangelina: used to refer to supercouple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
- Metrosexual: A man who dedicates a great deal of time and money to his appearance.
- Muffin top: This refers to the (often unsightly) roll of fat that appears on top of trousers that feature a low waist.
- Stitch 'n' bitch: A gathering of individuals who chat or gossip while knitting or crocheting.
- BFF: Stands for best friends forever. Used to state how close you are to another individual.
- Vagjayjay: Slang term for the vagina that was believed to have been coined by Oprah.
- Chilax: To calm down or relax, it is a slang term used when someone is starting to get uptight about something that is happening.
- Racne: Acne located on a woman’s chest.
- Staycation: A vacation at home or in the immediate local area.
Trademarks That are Genericized
2012 U.S. Election Campaign Neologisms
- Republican’ts – The 49 percent of Republicans who, in a recent survey, were unable to explain the meaning of their party’s initials “GOP.
- Mitthead – An individual who constantly changes his political positions to suit his audience and objectives,”
- Moon-basing – The act of a candidate or surrogate offhandedly proposing a policy so outrageous that it significantly harms the candidate’s electability.
- Santorum – We'll let you look that one up for yourself.
- Unappalin’ – Adjective used to describe a person with a combination of physical attractiveness, ruthless ambition and limited mental capacity.
- Rickwad – An individual who claims to be a devout Christian but supports policies that indicate otherwise.
The Washington Post Neologism Competition
Every year The Washington Post runs an annual competition in which the readers of the newspaper are asked to submit alternative meanings to existing words. The results are often extremely amusing. Here are examples of Washington Post neologisms:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly
answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulance (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over
by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that when you die, your Soul flies up
onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
Have you come across any great neologisms? Leave a comment and share them with us all!
Looking for help to perfect your written English? Check out our online editing services.