Create New Words with Neologisms

by Meryl Evans | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog 14 comments

Roy Peter Clark talks about neologisms — new words. In the article, he tells a story about a child who referred to something as “ginormous” because “It was bigger than gigantic. It was huger than enormous.” The child didn’t create the word as Clark points to the Urban Dictionary — so it’s not impossible for multiple people to come up with the same word.

Want to create a new word? Try blending multiple words, which are easy for others to figure out after determining words on which they’re based. Clark references Wanted Words, books that list words suggested by listeners and includes tidbits and letters. The book’s web site held contests that gave readers a chance to create new words based on a brief description. Here’s the last contest. Just click Previous to see more.

Protologism also means creating a new word… but unlike neologism, the creator wants to make it an accepted word in the language as it’s based on “prototype” and “neologism.”

WordSpy collects new terms that have appeared in multiple resources — they’re not sniglets.

Other ways to create words:

* daffynitions: Ex: “alarms — What an octopus is. (all arms)”

* sniglets: Ex: cheedle — “The orange residue left on fingers after eating Cheetos or some other cheesy snack.”

* goofinitions: Ex: “balderdash — rapid hair loss.”

I can’t find a clear definition of “stunt words” as referenced in Word Spy. All the searches refer to Word Spy’s description except for one that points to Wordlustitude, a blog that’s “a growing dictionary of ephemeral words — also known as nonce or stunt words. All readers are strongly encouraged to use these terms in their blogs, poems, prophesies, and recipes.” So “stunt words” are word fads, words with a short life.

Collins Word Exchange How to Make a Dictionary is a good read [Link from Language Log]. Still stuck? Try the Random Word Generator.

Or take an existing word and give it a new twist. “Shut up” isn’t always an insult. It can also be a surprise or a shocker that translates to “No way!” Grey’s Anatomy got my friends and me on a “seriously” kick — to mean “Yeah” or “telling the truth.”

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  • Posted by Meryl