The neologisms and their word building means in Modern English

The description of neologisms: definition, diachronic analysis, cultural acceptance factor. The manor and major word building types, presents latest top 50 neologisms, analyzed and arranged in table according to their word building type, sphere of usage.


neologism word diachronic

The subject of the investigation in this study is neologisms and their word building means in Modern English. Its aims are to present various ways of word building, analyze top 50 neologisms and to determine the most frequently used word forming types.

The work consists of two main parts. Chapter I gives a description of neologisms: definition, diachronic analysis, cultural acceptance factor. Chapter II deals with manor and major word building types, presents latest top 50 neologisms, analyzed and arranged in table according to their word building type, source and time of appearance, sphere of usage, ability to create new forms, new notion appearance. Both qualitative (semantic, structural, contextual) and quantitative methods of analysis are employed.

The material for the studies was collected in February, 2004, on

The results of the analysis are supplied with various schemes and tables.


There is no doubt that the English language today is the most widely used language for international communication. Words and expressions are born, live for a short time and then die or find their place in our vocabulary according to the temporary or permanent nature of the fenomena they describe.

Indeed, if no new words were to appear, it would be a sign that the language was moribund; the progress of arts and sciences gives birth to a large majority of new words: each new word that does appear should be severely scrutinized before it becomes generally accepted. So this work does a research into all word – forming means to determine the most productive ways of forming new words that appeared in the eighties, nineties and in the beginning of the XXI century. They are registered on as 50 top neologisms.

We have determined some aims in our investigation:

– to overview neologism diachronically (to present the historical development of the fenomenon);

– to investigate the problem of cultural acceptance, as that is the crucial point in the neologism existance, as stability and suitability, which are determined by the public;

– to give the complete classification of word-building means, both minor and major;

– to present the reasons for high or low productivity of each word-building type given;

– to give the overview of all possible sources, where the information on neologisms can be taken;

– to study the top 50 neologisms ( and analyse them using quantative and qualitative analysis, according to their word building type, source and time of appearance, sphere of usage, ability to create new forms, new notion appearance.

The novelty of the investigation lies in analizing the new words that are unstable so far as a group and still making their way in the language.

The paper consists of the introductory part stating the objectives and aims of the investigation. Chapter I considers the notion of neologisms and the development of the fenomenon, also it deals with cultural acceptance factors. The second chapter presents the word building types and the sources of new words and then there is given a many sided description of 50 top neologisms.

In the supplement, we find it necessary to present the exersises (where derivation in neology is the main principle), where students could develop their skills to create new words, which would also widen pupils’ outlook and develop their creational language abilities.

1. Neologism, its definition, development and cultural acceptance

1.1 Introductory information, links with other sciences

No new science is possible without neologisms, new words or new interpretations of old words to describe and explain reality in new ways. How could Aristotle have developed the logic of syllogisms or Newton the theory of dynamics without new vocabularies and definitions? They were neologists, and everybody wanting to contribute new knowledge must be. «To reject neologisms, often despicably, is to reject scientific development. No sign of scientific conservatism is so telling as the rejection of all but the established concepts of a school of thought. Neologisms are, however, relative to the terminological paradigm actually dominating a field of knowledge. It may be a radical renewal to introduce terms from a tradition believed to be outmoded.» (Ingar Roggen, 1996)

There exist various definitions of such a linguistical event, as neologism, and every of them expresses the gist of this notion taking into the consideration one of the numerous aspects of neologism. The most general are:

« Neologism: Neologisms are «words that have appeared in a language in connection with new phenomena, new concepts,… but which have not yet entered into the active vocabularies of a significant portion of the native speakers of the language». (Woodhouse dictionary, 1972, p. 225)

«A neologism is the term used to describe a word that has been made-up or invented by a speaker, which appears in a transcript of spontaneous speech dialogue. It can also be described as a word which does not appear in the dictionary of the primary spoken language, but which is also not a foreign word.» (Internet Or:

The common thing in these both definitions is that neologism is not yet registered in dictionaries and in most cases it is a colloquial for the time being.

For instance, the word «nigilist» (nihilist) [<Latin «nihil» (nothing)] was first used in an essay in 1829 (Shanskii 1971, p. 128) ; and was popularized in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons (1962) , through his depiction of the radical doctor of the 1860's, Bazarov.» The reason for introducing the word into the language was that there were many young people of that time believing that nothing had meaning or value. As soon as the word was coined it was accepted by the society and has existed in a number of languages since then.

If we take some sciences in particular, we may see, all of them reflect the essence of the notion, as there is «always something new». For instance, in linguistics , a neologism is a recently-coined word, or the act of inventing a word or phrase. Additionally it can imply the use of old words in a new sense i.e., giving new meanings to existing words or phrases. As it was mentioned above neologisms are especially useful in identifying new inventions, new phenomena, or old ideas which have taken on a new cultural context. The word «neologism» was coined around 1800 and was, at that time, a neologism itself.

In psychology, a neologism is a word invented by a person suffering from psychotic disorders; psychiatrists sometimes use these neologisms, which often have meaning only to the subject, as clues to determine the nature of the subject's disorder. In theology, a neologism is a relatively new doctrine (for example, rationalism). In this sense, a neologist is an innovator in the area of a doctrine or belief system, and is often considered heretical or subversive by the mainstream church.

The main point in all these defenitions is that the word or meaning is new and the implication is that the word might be adopted by the society and take roots or ignored and shortly forgotten.

1.2 History and the development of neologisms

As a literary concept and term, neologism appeared in the early 18th century, at the time when the neoclassical practices of the French Generation of 1660 began to consolidate, throughout Europe, into a body of normative teaching. The idea that different domains of human experience should be represented in literature by distinct literary styles entailed the notion that each of these styles should operate within distinct vocabulary. Usage, i.e., specific usage of the «best Authors», «the Court», or «the City», determined the limits of this vocabulary, along with other grammatical and stylistic properties. Authors using words and expressions (as well as phrase structures) from outside this universe were said to use neologisms , new expressions. Critics of the time conceived of neologism in literature as analogous to the continuous creation and introduction of new lexical units into language, and they thought of language change in general as a process of decay. Thus neologism was condemned on both aesthetic and linguistic grounds and the term was used pejoratively only. This older meaning of neologism , and the attitude it reflects, is still alive today.

However, as early as the second half of the 18th century, it became obvious that the vocabulary of literary expression should and perhaps could not be fully limited. Thus pejororative neologism was given a meliorative doublet, «neology» which meant the introduction of «approved» or «correct» new words into language. Critical literature has since expended a great deal of effort to define, not very successfully, the limits of «neology», usually concluding that the latter should be above all Horace's licentia sumpta prudenter , restricted to cases of «real need» (i.e., for concepts for which no single word or expression exists in the language) and that new words should be analogous in form to existing words in the language. Since, however, there are an infinite number of concepts an author may wish to represent in his writing, or a speaker, in his speech, and since the lexicon of most natural languages offers a very large number of possible analogies, such puristic recommendations have never succeeded in stemming the influx of new words into language, thence into literature.

The old meaning of neologism is synonymous with «barbarism», «gallicism» (in English), «anglicism» (in French), and even «archaism». It is opposed to «purism».

The modern, neutral meaning of neologism appears early in the 19th century and, still combated by Littré in French, gains acceptance towards the end of the century. The expansion of the literary experience by the Romanticists, the Realists, and the Naturalists, as well as the emergence of linguistics as an «objective» science has contributed to this development – Victor E. Hanzeli (37).

1.3 Cultural acceptance

We can mark that neologisms tend to occur more often in cultures which are rapidly changing, and also in situations where there is easy and fast propagation of information. They are often created by combining existing words (compound noun and adjective) or by giving words new and unique suffixes or prefixes . Those which are portmanteaus are shortened. Neologisms can also be created through abbreviation or acronym, by intentionally rhyming with existing words, or simply through playing with sounds.

As for the description of neologisms, we can say that, a neologism may be a slang word that has yet to find its way into mainstream conversation, or it may be the creation of a non-native speaker who has made for example a grammatical error. The so-called slip of the tongue may also be seen as neologisms.

Neologisms often become popular by way of mass media, the Internet, or word of mouth – especially, many linguists suspect, by younger people. Virtually every word in a language was, at some time, a neologism, though most of these ceased to be such through time and acceptance.

Neologisms often become accepted parts of the language. Other times, however, they disappear from common usage. Whether or not a neologism continues as part of the language depends on many factors, probably the most important of which is acceptance by the public. Acceptance by linguistic experts and incorporation into dictionaries also plays a part, as does whether the phenomenon described by a neologism remains current, thus continuing to need a descriptor. It is unusual, however, for a word to enter common use if it does not resemble another word or words in an identifiable way. (In some cases however, strange new words succeed because the idea behind them is especially memorable or exciting). When a word or phrase is no longer «new,» it is no longer a neologism. Neologisms may take decades to become «old», though. Opinions differ on exactly how old a word must be to no longer be considered a neologism; cultural acceptance probably plays a more important role than time in this regard.

If we consider the cultural acceptance, we can reckon, that after being coined, neologisms invariably undergo scrutiny by the public and by linguists to determine their suitability to the language. Many are accepted very quickly; others attract opposition. Language experts sometimes object to a neologism on the grounds that a suitable term for the thing described already exists in the language. Non-experts who dislike the neologism sometimes also use this argument, deriding the neologism as «abuse and ignorance of the language.»

Some neologisms, especially those dealing with sensitive subjects, are often objected to on the grounds that they obscure the issue being discussed, and that such a word's novelty often leads a discussion away from the root issue and onto a sidetrack about the meaning of the neologism itself.

Proponents of a neologism see it as being useful, and also helping the language to grow and change; often they perceive these words as being a fun and creative way to play with a language. Also, the semantic precision of most neologisms, along with what is usually a straightforward syntax, often makes them easier to grasp by people who are not native speakers of the language.

The outcome of these debates, when they occur, has a great deal of influence on whether a neologism eventually becomes an accepted part of the language. Linguists may sometimes delay acceptance, for instance by refusing to include the neologism in dictionaries; this can sometimes cause a neologism to die out over time. Nevertheless if the public continues to use the term, it always eventually sheds its status as a neologism and enters the language even over the objections of language experts.

2. Ways of forming words and the analysis of 50 top neologisms

2.1 Classification of word-building means

As the aim of our work is to investigate the problem of neologisms, and ways of their forming, we will overview the word-building means. At first we will tackle the problem of various classifications of word-formation, linguists used to mention morphological, syntactic and lexico-semantic types of word-formation. At present the classification of the types does not, as a rule, include lexico-semantic word-building. Of interest is the classification of word-formation means based on the number of motivating bases, which many scholars follow. A distinction is made between two large classes of word-building means:

To Class I belong the means of building words having one motivating base. To give an English example, the noun CATCHER is composed of the base CATCH – and the suffix – ER, through the combination of which it is morphologically and semantically motivated.

The basic means in word-derivation are affixation and conversion. Derived words usually consist of a root and an affix, which in their turn fall into prefixes which proceed the root in the structure of the word (re-write, mis-pronounce) and suffixes which follow the root (teach-er, dict-ate). Derived words are extremely popular in the English vocabulary. Successfully competing with this structural type is the so-called root word which has only a root morpheme in its structure. This type widely represented by a great number of words belonging to the original English word stock or to earlier borrowings (house, book, work), and in Modern English, has been greatly enlarged by the type of word building, called conversion (pale, adj. – to pale, v; to find, v- a find, n.) Conversion sometimes is referred to as an affixless way of word-building or even affixless derivation. Conversion is a process of creating a new word from some existing one or by changing the category of a part of speech, the morphemic shape of the original word remaining unchanged. The new word has a meaning which differs from that of the original one though it can more or less be easily associated with it. It has also a new paradigm peculiar to its new category as a part of speech (nurse, n. – to nurse, v).

Class II includes the means of building words containing more than one motivating base. Needless to say, they are all based on compounding (country-club, door – hande).

This type of word building, in which new words are produced by combining two or more stems, is one of the most productive types in Modern English, the other two are conversion and affixation. Compounds, though certainly fewer in quantity than derived or root words, still represent one of the most typical and specific features of English word-structure. Compounds are not homogeneous in structure. Traditionally three types are distinguished: neutral, morphological, syntactic. In neutral compounds the process of compounding is relized without any linking elements, by a mere juxtaposition of two stems (shop-window, bedroom, tallboy). Morphological compounds are fewer in number. This type is not productive and it is repersented by words in which two componding stems are combined by a linking vowel or consonant (Anglo – Saxon, statesman, handiwork) (16, p. 105) In syntactic compounds we find a feature of a specifically English word-structure. These words are formed from segments of speech, preserving in their structure numerous traces of syntagmatic relations typical of speech: articles, prepositions, adverbs, prepositions, as in lily-of-the-alley, good-for-nothing . Syntactical relations and grammatical patterns current in present-day English can be traced in the structures of such compound nouns as pick-me -up, know-all, whodunit . In this group of compounds, we find a great number of neologisms, and whoduni t is one of them. The structure of most compounds is transparent, and it is clear that the origin of these words is a simple word combination.

Most linguists in special chapters and manuals devoted to English word-formation consider as the chief processes af English word formation affixation, conversion and compounding. Apart from these a number of minor ways of forming words such as back-fomation, sound interchange, distinctive stress, sound imitation, blending, clipping and acronymy are traditionally referred to Word-formation. (26, p. 108)

Some minor types of word-formation can not belong neither to word derivation nor to compounding, as some words while shortening , for example, can have two bases, e.g. V-day , some can have one, e.g. lab . The same reason can be applied to other minor types. We will not be strict and consider them as minor word building means.

Shortenings are produced in two different ways. The first is to make a new word form a syllable (rarer two) of the original word. The latter may lose its beginning (as in phone made from telephone ), its ending (as in hols – holydays , ad – advertisement ) or both the beginning and ending (as in flu-influenza ). The second way of shortening is to make a new word form the initial letters (similar to acronimy) of a word group: U.N.O . from the United Nations Organization . This type is called initial shortenings and found not only among colloquialisms and slang. So, g.f. is a shortened word made from the compound girlfriend.

As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words, also called clipping or curtailment , is recorded in the English language as far back as the 15 century. It has grown more and more productive ever since. This growth becomes especially marked in many European languages in the 20th century, and it is a matter of common knowledge that this development is particularly intense in English.

Shortenings of spoken words or curtailment consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts (whether or not this part has previously been a morpheme), as a result of which the new form acquires some linguistic value of its own.

Newly shortened words appear continuously: this is testified by numerous neologisms, such as demo form demonstratio n: frog or fridge from refrigerator ; trank from tranquilizer . Many authors are inclined to overemphasize the role of «the strain of modern life» as the mainspring of this development. This is, obviously, only one of reasons, and the purely linguistic factors should not be overlooked. Among the major forces are the demands of rhythm, which are more readily satisfied when the words are monosyllabic.

When dealing with words of long duration, one will also note that a high percentage of English shortenings is involved into the process of loan word assimilation. Monosyllabism goes farther in English than in any other European language, and that is why shortened words sound more like native ones than their long prototypes.

The other word building means can be called: blends, blendings, fusions or portmanteau words. The process of formation is called telescoping, because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope. Blends may be defined as formations that combine two words and include the letters or sounds they have in common as a connecting element.

The analysis into immediate constituents is helpful so far as it permits the definition of a blend as a word with the first constituent represented by a stem whose final part may be missing, and the second constituent by a stem of which the initial part is missing. The second constituent, when used in a series of similar blends may turn into a suffix. A new suffix – on is, for instance, well under way in such terms as nylon, rayon, silon , formed from the final element of cotton.

Depending upon prototype phrases with which they can be correlate two types of blends can be distinguished. One may be termed additive, the second, restrictive. (17, p. 76) The respective type is transformable into an attributive phrase where the first element serves as modifier of the second: cine (matographic pano) rama – cinerama . Other examples are: medicare – medical care, telecast – television broadcast.

Both types involve the sliding together not only of sound but of meaning as well. Yet the semantic relations, which are at work are different. The additive type is transformable into a phrase consisting of the respective complete stems combined with the conjunction and, e.g. smog – smoke and fog ‘a mixture of smoke and fog’. The elements may be synonymous, belong to the same semantic field or at least be members of the same lexico-grammatical class of words: French + English=Frenglish .

Blends, although not very numerous altogether, seem to be on the rise, especially in terminology and also in trade advertisements.

Another way of forming new words is acronymization , as for this process, we can say, that, because of ever closer connection between the oral and the written forms of the language it is sometimes difficult to differentiate clippings formed in oral speech from graphical abbreviations. They are becoming more employed in oral speech and widely used in conversation.

During World War I and after it the custom became very popular not only in English-speaking countries, but in other parts of the world as well, to call countries, governmental, social, military, industrial and trade organizations and officials not only by their full titles but by initial abbreviations derived from writing. Later the trend became even more pronounced; e.g. the USSR, the U.N.O., MP. The tendency was to omit fullstops between the letters: GPO (General Post Organization). Some abbreviations nevertheless appear in both forms: EPA and E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency). Such words formed from the initial letter of each of the successive parts of a phrasal term have two possible types of orthoepic correlation between written and spoken forms.

Ifthe abbreviated written form lends itself to be read as though it were an ordinary English word and sounds like an English word, it will be read like one. The words thus formed are calledacronyms ( from GREEK acros – ‘ end’ +onym ‘ name’). This way of forming new words is becoming more and more popular in almost all fields of human activity, and especially in political and technical vocabulary: U.N.O., also UNO (ju:nou) – United Nations Organization , NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization , SALT – Strategic Arms Limitation Talks . The last example shows that acronyms are often homonymous to ordinary words: sometimes intentionally chosen so as to create certain associations. Thus, for example, the National organization for Women is called NOW. Typical of acronymic coinages in technical terminology are JATO, laser, radar.

Acronyms present a special interest because they exemplify the working of the lexical adaptive system. (17, p. 143)

As for semantic word – building , we can say, that it is any change in word – meaning, for instance the word bench – ‘ a long seat of wood or stone’; ‘a carpenter table’. The majority of the linguists, however, understand this process only as a change in the meaning of a word that may result in the appearance of homonyms, as is the case with flower – «a blossom» and flour– : the fine meal», «powder made form wheat and used for making bread», etc. The application of the term word-formation to the appearance of homonyms due to the development of polysemy seems to be debatable for the following reasons:

As semantic change does not, as a rule, lead to the inroduction of a new word into the vocabulary, it can scarcely be regarded as a word-building means (neither can we consider the process a word-building means even when an actual enlargment), the vocabulary does come about through the appearance of a pair of homonyms. Actually, the appearance of homonyms is not a means of creating new words, but it is the final result of a long and laborious process of sense-development. Furthermore, there are no patterns after which homonyms can be made in the language. Finally, diverging sense-development results in a semantic isolation of two or more meanings of a word, whereas the process of word-formation proper is characterized by a certain semantic connection between the new word and the source lexical unit. For these reasons diverging sense-development leading to the appearance of two or more homonyms should be regarded as a specific channel through which the vocabulary of a language is replenished with new words and should not be treated on a par with the processes of word-formation, such as affixation, conversion and composition.

2.2 Productivity of Word-building means

Some of the ways of forming new words in present – day English can be resorted to for the creation of new words whenever the occasion demands – these are called productive ways of forming words. Other ways of forming words cannot produce new words as readily and these are commonly termed non-productive or unproductive. For instance, affixation has been a productive way of forming new words ever since the Old English period, whereas, sound-interchange must have been at one time a productive word-building means but in Modern English its function is actually only to distinguish between different classes and forms of words.

The high productivity of conversion finds its reflection in speech where numerous occasional cases of conversion can be found, which are not registered in dictionaries and which occur momentarily, through the immediate need of situation. (16, p. 90) Conversion is universally accepted as one of the major ways of enriching English vocabulary with new words.

It follows that productivity of word-building ways, individual derivational patterns and derivational affixes is understood as their ability of making new words which all who speak English find no difficulty in understanding, in particular their ability to create what is called occasional words or nonce-words ( more unstable, serve theimmediate purpose as compared to neologisms, but the border is very slight). The term means that the speaker coins such words when he needs them, if on another occasion the same word is needed again, he coins it afresh. Needless to say dictionaries do not as a rule record occasonal words. The following words may serve as illustration: collarless (appearance), a Dickensish (office), to unlearn (the rules), etc.

Recent investigations seem to prove however that productivity of derivational means is relative in many respects. Moreover there are no absolutely productive means, derivational patterns and derivational affixes have different degrees of productivity. Each part of speech is characterized by a set of productive derivational patterns, peculiar to it. Three degrees of productivity are distinguished for derivational patterns and individual derivational affixes: 1) highly-productive, 2) productive or semi – productive and 3) non-productive. (26, p. 112)By productive affixes we mean the ones, which take part in deriveng new words at this particular period of language development. The best way to indentify productive affixes is to look for them among nonce words. They are usually formed on the level of living speech and reflect the most productive and progressive patterns in word building. One should not mix the productivity of affixes with their frequency of occurrence. There are quite a number of high-frequency affixes which, nevertheless, are no longer used in word derivation (the adjective-foming native suffixes – ful, – ly ; the adjective-forming suffixes of Latin origin – ant, – al which are quite frequent).

As for compounding, we can say that the structural type of compound words and the word-building type of composition have certain advantages for communication purposes. Composition is not quite so flexible (productive) a way of coining new as conversion but flexible enough to create numerous nonce words. These words are comparatively laconic, absorbing into one word an idea that otherwise would have required a whole phrase (cf. The hotel was full of week-enders and The hotel was full of people spending the week-end there ). (16, p. 20)

We should also mention the reason why such word building ways as shortening, acronyms and blendings are so productive. It can be explained by their brevity and it is due to the ever-increasing tempo of modern life. In meeting the needs of communication and fulfilling the laws of information theory requiring a maximum signal in the minimum time the lexical system undergoes modification in its basic structure: namely it forms new elements not by their combining existing morphemes and proceeding from sound forms to their graphic representation but the other way round – coining new words form the initial letters of phrasal terms originating in texts. (17, p. 144)

2.3 The overview of the sources of neologisms

In our work, we are determined to define the word-building means of the new word and the sphere of its use, we have presented the major types of word forming way and have mentioned some spheres where they can be used and their cultural acceptance. The top 50 neologisms were taken from the WORDSPY site.

We think it necessary to present the overview of the sources, where the information on neologisms can be taken. As it was said by – Andrew Lloyd James, (Welsh linguist, The Broadcast Word, 1935): «A language is never in a state of fixation, but is always changing; we are not looking at a lantern-slide but at a moving picture.» As English is a growing language new words and phrases emerge everyday at a pace that the Oxford English Dictionary and the Webster's cannot keep up with. While these dictionaries wait for years before they consider words 'fit to publish', the Web is working faster to bring these new terms to light. is one of the largest sites keeping track of emerging vocabulary of the English language. It is maintained by Paul McFedries , author of many computer and English language books. New terms are added to the site regularly.

Back in 1996, Wordspy began as a mailing list where each day McFedries would send out an interesting word to a few friends and readers. «After I'd accumulated a few dozen words, I created the site to give people a record of what had been posted and make it possible for other people to join the list,» says McFedries.

Many new words may become household terms in a few years. Some of them are here only for a short while. McFedries describes language as volcanic mountain constantly spewing out new words and phrases. «Some of them are blown away by the winds and others are linguistic lava that slides down the volcano and eventually hardens as a permanent part of the language. Both types of ejecta are inherently creative, so I'm interested in them equally,» he explains.

He finds most of these words through his own reading. For the citations, he uses Lexis-Nexis , Dow Jones News Retrieval and Electric Library. He also uses Google and his local library.

According to him, new words are a reflection of what's going on in the culture. «For example, if the culture is generating new terms such as 'work-life balance ', 'joy-to-stuff ratio ', and 'affluenza ', to me it's an indication that a significant number of people are looking to slow down and live simpler, less materialistic lives.»

Wordspy has given emerging words a new life. It even provides an updated list of words and expressions that's not yet in the Oxford English Dictionary.

'Dellionaire ' is a nounand means 'a rich person whose wealth is based on the stocks he owns at Dell Computer Corporation'. An 'Internot ' (noun) is a person who refuses to use the Internet.

McFedries calls Wordspy 'lexpionage' (a word he coined himself), the sleuthing of new words and of old words used in new ways. His favorite word is obviously 'logophilia ', the love of words.

There are nearly 2000 words and expressions in this collection. Every term has a page dedicated to it. This page has all the information of the word or expression: the figure of speech, what the word means, its usage, citations and a backgrounder. Earliest known usage of some words is also included. In some cases, history about the entry is also provided.

2.4 The top 50 neolosisms and their analysis

We present the top 50 neologisms in the following table, the data is collected on the 5th of February, 2004 on Wordspy site.

Now we present the table, where words are arranged according the popularity first of all, the earliest citation, the short definition, the word-building type, the sphere of usage are presented.

We had 50 most frequently used neologisms to investigate at our disposal, it is clear that it is only a small portion of new coined words we could use, but for the convenience and the accuracy of the analysis only these words were taken. Nevertheless, even these words can prompt us about the contemporary processes in the language, and we can distinguish the most productive ways of new words to appear and the main spheres where they are needed. We can determine the major trends in the neology as well.

Culture – General-11, Food and Drink -2, Television-2, Health and Fitness-3.

Sociology – General-22, Gay and Lesbian-3, Pregnancy and Parenting -5, Men and Women-9,

Computers – General-5, Internet – 6, Hacking and Hackers-3, Wareless-3, E-mail-3

Technology – General-3, Cell Phones-4

The World – Crime-3, General -1, Politics -3,

Science – General-4, Biology-2, Psychology-4

Business – General-2, Money -1

Language – General-4

Word building means is the first thing we will do research into analyzing the chart of the most popular neologisms. According to it we can mark that the word composition and sense development are the most productive ways of coining new words. According to structural types of words, two motivating bases are employed while forming words by word composition. For instance, the word neurotheology has two clear bases, they are neuro – and – theology. Judging by the result it’s the most common way as is ‘the easiest’, as soon as you use the already existing words and put them together.

Sense development is employed when a new meaning is acquired by the already existing word, that is what we call semantic word building type. In the age of globalization, developed social links and hi-tech events, mankind needs names for them and there is a big number of such cases, as in the word quiet party along with the word composition, this type is used, words (composites of the word) are commonly known, but while analyzing we can clearly see that sense development is engaged to coin this neologism.

Blending is less popular, cases, like hathos, the blend of hate and pathos is marked.

Such types as affixation, acronimization (kippers – from «kids in parents' pockets eroding retirement savings») turned out to be not very productive. It can be explained by various reasons – 1) elaboration in forming, 2) difficulty in predicting (decoding) the information.

It is clear that more than 40% of the neologisms appeared in the nineties, it can be explained by the sudden jump in computer technologies and the more evident results of the sexual revolution. In the eighties, 24% of the new words were coined, that was more or less a stable period of the contemporary society. As for the 2000–2004, for this period more than 36% of the neologisms were built. That is the richest period, as the progress became faster, as well as, the time itself.

It’s the first time new words were fixed in newspapers. Such tabloids, as The INDEPENDENT (London), Chicago TRIBUNE, THE WASHINGTON POST, The AUSTRALIAN, CANADIAN Issues are the productive sources. The Internet sites give birth to the numerous words which deal with technologies, for instance, the gave life to the word BLUEJACKING. Not only English speaking countries tabloids are among the sources, THE JERUSALEM POST «bore» the floortime , etc. Some other local newspapers like THE DENVER POST, FLORIDA TIMES, THE TORONTO STAR, THE NATION, etc. can also be called the sources. Issues, discussed at conferences (Digital Rights Management Conference) can be the reasons for the new words appearance (darknet ) as well.

With the development of the society and the sexual revolution, which is still going on, new forms of relations between sexes and within family, new types of sex social status appeared. This sphere has got more new notions than ever before, since now people can easily change their sex and sexual orientation (gay and lesbian topic). Gaydar (an interesting composition Gay+ Dar , denoting a special sense while identifying gay from a straight person) or straight supermacist (a person who assumes that all heterosexuals are innately superior than homosexuals and they don’t have the right to be equally treated under the law) Moreover, there are new types of family forms and relations which explains the appearance of words, such as manny – male nanny, is a clear case in point.

Men and women links are also of interest, ¼ of all new notions (according to our investigation) make up in this sphere. Irritable Male Syndrome (-anger and irritableness in men caused by a sudden drop in testosterone levels, particularly when brought on by stress or the word) men breasts (excess fatty tissue that causes a man's chest to resemble a woman's breasts) show us how men begin to resemble a woman more and more, physically and psychologically. Or take for example, a metrosexual individual, who spends much money on his appearance and lifestyle.

The second richest branch is Computer. New computer technologies give rise to new words. Most of them are connected with the Internet and E – mail, as the Internet offers us more and more opportunities, as well as, all computer technologies. Software in many people’s lifetime has been mostly a wonderful way to live, because we're just learning how to do it and anybody with some time and talent and initiative can try out any crazy idea. We have so much processing power and so much memory and such great tools and we still fail, most times, to produce things that are fun to use. Neologisms like, GOOGLE, «spIM » became an indispensable part of Internet users’ speech. One can google and find any information he or she needs and the other gets spIM every time he or she uses Instant Messenger.

Culture sphere is developing along with the society, that is why it is the third richest. Television and food and drink branches have more fresh words, than ever now, and again, it is connected with the technological and social development. Individuals suffer from passive over-eating , that is the excessive eating of foods that are high in fat because the human body is slow to recognize the caloric content of rich foods; eating whatever is put in front of you, even to the point of discomfort. The ground for it all is the change of the life rhythm – shortage of time.

Science is the forth richest, new sciences and discoveries are made in this sphere – that is neurotheology, for example.

Technology and The world have the equal number, in the Technology branch, more than a half of all new words are connected with cell phones. The majority of civilized people have «cellys» to save time and money. Some have problems with BLUEJACKING while standing in a line in the supermarket (temporally hijacking another person’s cell phone by sending anonymousmessages using the Bluetooth system). Or one can make 911 butt call , that is definitely is not worth responding to.

Business and language are less influenced, these spheres are more or less stable, business – is because it is the matter of money. Market succeeds in creating immense quantities of (unevenly distributed) wealth, lifting people out of rural poverty and urban slums, in arranging that most people have jobs, that most things that are built that are needed, and the most things that are needed are built. These are not small accomplishments. Also, it can be marked that business is often a filthy practice. It encourages both vile venial and monstrous mortal sin, all as an organic consequence of the competitive marketplace. That explains our statistics, we have three new words, connected with this topic, and one of them deals with crime – 419 scam (fraud, making people pay money, which hope to get more later, the numbers «419» is the number of the law, prosecuting this type of a crime). The other word deals with the stock market – dead cat bounce (a temporary recovery from a major drop in a stock's price).

Language, is the sphere which is really flexible and prone to changes, but still people need more or less stable language system to communicate. New words in this sphere are kippers (an acronym) and himbo (an insult) or hathos ( feelings of pleasure derived from hating someone or something), they are a rare case in point.

As we can see 18 out of 50 words have new forms, some of the new-coined words have developed a paradigm of even three parts of speech, some only one. In most cases words have a noun as another part of speech, like in words neurotheology , the new form is neurotheologian or metrosexual – metrosexuality, also straight supremacist – straight supremacy . As for creating the adjectives, we have such examples, as hathos – hathotic, or spim – antispim and lipstick lesbian – lipstick with a suffix – ic highly employed. Verbs are also common: bluejacking – to bluejack, manscaping – to manscape, flash mob-to flash mob. Neologisms like, spim, flash mob are the brightest representatives to show how productive the words can be, they have a noun, a verb, an adjective and even they have a plural form – flash mobs , for example. Few words have a plural form. These facts show that while speaking sometimes people have to converse words into a different part of speech. The bigger paradigm of morphological forms the word develops the more probability it will have to survive for a while and even stay in the language. The reason for this event is that these new notions as well as words are gradually becoming the essential part of the civilized world.

According to our statistics, most words acquire a new meaning rather than a new word appears with a new notion. This can be explained by the fact, that there is not enough, we would say proper, words to express all the variety of newly created and used notions in the rapidly changing world.

New meaning were acquired when two (as it may seem) incompatible words are composed and a new word appears. For instance, words like, quiet party or global dimming, time porn were not of primary importance, moreover, there were not used and were not actual, if we take for example, the seventies or eighties of the 20th century. These things simply did not exist, or were not popular to the same extent as they are now. Or the word does not change at all, just the new meaning is implied – kidnap.

As for the simultaneous new notions and words creation, we can note, that they were created whether by acronimization (kipper) or blending (pomosexual, hathos ), those are the most productive and the simplest ways to imply two or more meanings, expressing some fresh ideas, in one word.


In our work, we tried to give a full presentation if all aspects of such a linguistic event as neology in connection with word building means. We performed a complete analysis of 50 most popular neologisms according to the word building type, sphere of usage, to the source and time of appearance, ability to create new forms, new notion appearance.

As a literary concept and term, neologism appeared in the 18th century and its old meaning was synonymous to «barbarism». In the modern meaning of neologism appeared early in the 19th century and, gained the acceptance towards the end of the century. Nowadays around 4000 words enter English vocabulary every year which reflects the fast development of the language and makes the phenomena interesting to analyze.

We also tackled a problem of the cultural acceptance. There is no criterion for judging how long the neologism takes to be accepted by the public. If it does, it is not the point though, because the reason why it becomes recognized is of more importance.

The classification of word building means also presented in our investigation, based on the structural principle (one or two motivating bases) in the first place. The words which have one motivating base are usually formed by derivation with the help of affixes and zero-derivation (conversion), which is the process of turning a word in a different part of speech and with a different distribution characteristic but without adding any derivational element (n. silence – v. to silence ). The second type of word building means employs two motivating bases (compounding ), which is a convenient and laconic way to express some ideas, comprised in one word. Minor types of word building include shortening, acronymy, blending.

Shortening that consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts, as a result the new form acquires some linguistic value of its own, blends that combine two words and include the letters or sounds they have in common as a connecting element. Acronymy is the process of creating new words when only initial letters are taken. These above mentioned means are frequently used in the sphere of technology and politics as well as everyday language (girlfriend – g.f.) , the reason is ever-growing life rhythm, when maximum information should be transferred in a minimum time, the described types are the most suitable in this case, which also explains their high productivity. The semantic word building, which is any semantic change in the word meaning, it deals with sense development, and can be also treated as one of the sources of neologisms.

Recent investigations seem to prove that productivity of derivational means is relative in many prospects, and as a conclusion we can say that there are no absolutely productive means. Conversion is popular due to its simplicity and convenience; one doesn’t have to add any affixes to create a new word.

In our work we also dealt with problems concerning the sources of new words as neologisms emerge every day and so fast that dictionaries can not keep up with. While the dictionaries wait for years for the words to be fit to be published, the World Wide Web is acting more efficiently to bring these words to life. Wordspy (creator Paul McFedries) is one of the largest sites keeping track of emerging vocabulary of the English language. We used the data from this site to analyze (50 most popular (frequently used) neologisms), collected in February 2004.

We took these words to determine the major trends in the growing vocabulary; the words were analyzed according to

- the source and time of appearance,

- to the word building type,

- to the sphere of usage,

- to the ability to create new words,

- to the new notion appearance.

The period, which is rich in neologisms, is the nineties, due to rapid change in social relations and hi-tech developments. But as the processes became faster, more new words were coined, the «richest» (36%) time (at the beginning of the XXI century. The major source is Media, tabloids as well as locals, in particular (The Independent, The Washington Post). The Internet also plays a determinative role in forming new words.

Most neologisms in our work were formed whether by word composition or sense development (more than 80%), which are the ‘easiest’, as one doesn’t have to invent anything new, just combining two words together or implying a new meaning to an old word. Minor word building types (blending, acronimization) are less employed. That happens due to the flash-like rhythm of modern life.

While analyzing spheres of usage, we came to such a conclusion, that the most, as we can say, renewable branch is that of sociology (45 referencesout of 113), as it is the most developing sphere of the human life at this point. A great number of the new words deal with men and women relationships, as well as, with homosexual affairs, as a result of the sexual revolution.

The more active usage of the computer and computer technologies (20 references out of 113) give rise to more new words connected with this topic, the same can be applied to the mobile/cell phones, they are more employed and thus have more functions, which results in the appearance of new words.

We can also reckon that the bigger number of neologism has paradigms (36%), that shows – the words are more employed and are being accepted by the language.

More words just acquire new meaning; as a result, a new word is born (46%). The ‘old’ words were not used in a present meaning, due to its previous non – necessity.

As a total issue, we can mark, that the enlargement of the English language vocabulary, as well as any other language, is closely connected with the humans’ social life. Every new event in our life finds its reflection in the language, and the faster the life is the simpler the ways, thanks to which our language is enlarged.


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