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Neologism

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English

A neologism is a new word. Neology is the process of creating new words and phrases through writing or speaking. The process of neology can also involve adopting words that already exist and adapting them to illustrate a different meaning. Making neologisms is also a great way to have fun with language as you need to use your creativity!

Neology is:

  • The process of creating new words and phrases, which then turn into neologisms.
  • Adopting words that exist and adapting them to show a different or same meaning.

What are the methods to create a neologism?

There are many different methods of neology. As a creator or reader, it's important to understand these especially when it comes to finding or creating amazing neologisms. It's also key to remember that when using or creating your own words within an academic context, this can be considered misspelt. So be careful! Let's take a look at four of these methods followed by them being used within literature and conversations.

Word blending

This method consists of blending two or more words to create a new word. We may use this method to help us describe a new event or something new, which incorporates the meaning of the two existing concepts within one word. We can do this by blending free morpheme (a part of a word or word that has a meaning by itself) to other words.

Neologism Spider-Man homecoming logo StudySmarterSpider-Man, Wikimedia Commons.

Free morphemes'Spider''Man'
Word blend'Spider-Man'x
Neologism'Spider-Man'x

The noun 'Spider-Man' first appeared in 1962. In it we can see that the free morpheme 'spider' (the insect with eight legs) has been linked with the free morpheme 'man' (a male person). This word blend creates a new word: 'Spider-Man', which is a neologism. As a result, this particular man takes on the capabilities of a spider such as having speed, power, and agility, which helps the creators describe something new to the audience.

Clipping

This refers to shortening a longer word, which then acts as a new word with the same or similar meaning. As a result, this makes the word easier to spell and remember. Such words come from particular groups and then make their way into society. These groups can include schools, the army, and laboratories.

Check out these examples of four different types of clipping that are used in conversations today.

Back clipping

A word is clipped backwards.

'Captain' - 'cap'

Fore clipping

A word is clipped from the beginning.

'Helicopter' - 'copter'

Middle clipping

The middle part of the word is retained.

'Influenza' - 'flu'

Complex clipping

Reducing a compound word (two free morphemes joined together) by keeping and linking the existing parts.

'Science fiction'- sci-fi'

Many words today have been clipped, making it acceptable to use them in informal settings. However, keep in mind that words that have been clipped can be considered misspelt within academic writing. Many have not been recognized as standard English. The case of the word 'flu' is interesting. This neologism, which was originally used in science, has now been accepted in standard English. We all probably use this term today rather than saying 'influenza'. This is an example of slang being accepted in mainstream society, making it satisfactory within writing.

Acronyms

In this method, a neologism is made up of some letters of a phrase, which are then enunciated as a word. You have probably seen and heard of acronyms before within literature and conversation. We use acronyms because it's a faster way of communicating: words are then easier to write and remember. Due to this, many organizations use them within their branding. A tip to remember when creating or identifying acronyms is that connective words such as 'and' or 'of' are excluded. We will now explore an example of an acronym.

Neologism, NASA Logo, StudySmarterNASA logo, Pixabay.com

The acronym 'NASA' was created in 1958 and refers to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Here we can see the creator has taken the initials of each of the nouns and linked them together to create the neologism 'NASA'. We can also see that 'and' and 'the' have been excluded, as these words would not help the reader understand what sort of company this is. We can also see that the enunciation is 'nah-sah', making this easier to pronounce.

Initialisms

An initialism is an acronym that is pronounced as single letters. You may have used initialisms yourself before within your writing or even said them with your peers. They are considered to be informal slang words, so it's important to not use these within academic settings. Please see below an example of an initialism.

Neologism, LOL example, StudySmarterLOL, pixabay.com

The initialism 'LOL' or 'lol' which means (laugh out loud), was first used in 1989 in a newsletter. Since then, it has become widely used within texting and social media. We can see that the creator has taken the initials of each word and formed a neologism, which is also an acronym. However, due to the pronunciation as 'LO-L', it then turns into an initialism.

What is the main difference between acronyms and initialisms?

Acronyms are very similar to initialisms, as they are both made up of letters from words or phrases. However, an initialism is not pronounced as a word, but instead, you say the individual letters. Please take a look at the below examples:

Acronym: 'ASAP' (as soon as possible)

Neologism, Time Piece, StudySmarter

Here, the creator has used the first letters of each word 'A', 'S', 'A', 'P' and has put them together. As we can see, this acronym still holds the same meaning: something that needs to be done urgently. However, it enables this piece of communication to be quicker. We pronounce this as one word: 'A-SAP', that's how we know it's an acronym!

Initialism: 'CD' (compact disc)

Neologism, CD, StudySmarter

The creator has taken the first letter of the words 'Compact Disc' and has put them together. This still holds the same meaning: a disc that plays music. As this is an initialism, we would pronounce the letters individually: 'C', 'D'. This is how we know it's an initialism!

Neologism - Key takeaways

  • Neology is the process of creating new words and phrases, which then turn into neologisms. It also involves adopting words that exist and adapting them to show a different meaning.
  • We explored four types of neology. Firstly, word blends refers to two words blended to create a new word. Secondly, clipping relates to shortening a longer word that has the same or similar meaning. This involves four ways: back clipping, fore clipping, middle clipping, and complex clipping. Thirdly, acronyms are made up of parts of a phrase pronounced as a word. Finally, initialisms, which are acronyms, but the letters are pronounced separately.
  • The method of clipping is practiced within particular settings which then enables neologisms to be made. Some can be considered informal and misspelt, so it's best not to use them within academic settings.
  • Within neology, we use acronyms because it's a faster way of communicating, to write and remember words. Many organizations use them within their branding.
  • The main difference between acronyms and initialisms is that acronyms are pronounced as a set word. Initialisms are pronounced as individual letters.

Neologism

Neology refers to the process of creating new words and phrases, which then turn into neologisms. Neology also involves adopting words that exist and adapting them to show a different meaning.

Here are 9 examples of neologisms:

  • Spider-Man (spider and man)
  • Cap (captain)
  • Copter (helicopter)
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Sci-fi (science fiction)
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
  • Lol (laugh out loud)    
  • ASAP (as soon as possible)
  • CD (compact disc)


You pronounce neology: neo-lo-gy. Neologism is pronounced: nee-o-luh-ji-zm. Note that within neologism, the third syllable is not pronounced 'gi' (like the letters 'gi'), but rather like the first syllable in 'gigantic'.

An acronym is pronounced as a word formed from a set of words or phrases. An initialism has the same rule, but instead, the word is pronounced as individual letters. Both are forms of neology as new words are created which are known as neologisms.

Final Neologism Quiz

Question

What is an acronym?

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Answer

An acronym is an abbreviation made up of the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word.


Show question

Question

What kind of acronym is ‘scuba’?


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Answer

‘Scuba’ is a word acronym; it is also an anacronym.

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Question

What is a recursive acronym?


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Answer

A recursive acronym is an acronym that refers to itself. Usually the first letter stands for the acronym itself. Example: GNU: Gnu’s Not Unix.


Show question

Question

Complete the sentence: reverse acronym is another term for … 


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Answer

Backronym.

Show question

Question

Complete the sentence: ‘You see it's like a … —there are two meanings packed up into one word.’


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Answer

Portmanteau.

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Question

True or false? An anacronym is an acronym that is no longer in use.


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Answer

False. An anacronym is an acronym that is so familiar that many people do not remember what it stands for, e.g. scuba, radar, sonar.

Show question

Question

True or False? A recursive acronym is an acronym that refers to itself.


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Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Complete the sentence: NaNoWriMo is an acronym that stands for ... and is an example of  ... acronyms.


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Answer

National Novel Writing Month; syllabic.

Show question

Question

Complete the sentence: Syllabic acronyms use ...of words instead of .... to make new words.


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Answer

syllables; initials.


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Question

 What is a backronym?


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Answer

A backronym is an acronym deliberately created for a word that isn’t an acronym, often for comic effect.


Show question

Question

A portmanteau is a ...  (There may be more than one answer).


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Answer

Blended word.

Show question

Question

Give some examples of word acronyms.

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Answer

RAM, Laser, Scuba, ASAP, AWOL, etc.

Show question

Question

What is an initialism?

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Answer

An initialism is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of words in phrases.

Show question

Question

Another word for initialism is …


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Answer

An initialism is also called an alphabetism.

Show question

Question

What is an acronym?


Show answer

Answer

An acronym is made with the initial letters of a group of words and pronounced as a word on its own

Show question

Question

What do the following stand for?

BBC 

FBI

CNN

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Answer

BBC stands for British Broadcasting Corporation

FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation

CNN stands for Cable News Network

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Question

 Complete the sentence: 

HTML stands for …

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Answer

HyperText Markup Language

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Question

True or false? An initialism is made with the initial letters of a group of words and pronounced as a word on its own.


Show answer

Answer

False: An initialism is made with the initial letters of a group of words and is spoken letter by letter.

Show question

Question

Complete the sentence: 

ASAP stands for …

Show answer

Answer

As Soon As Possible.

Show question

Question

What does SOS stand for when signalling for help?


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Answer

Nothing; it is used because it is quick to type in Morse code and can be understood easily even in bad conditions.


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Question

 What did SOS replace in Morse code for distress signals and why?


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Answer

SOS replaced CQD, because it was easier to type out and understand.

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Question

Give some popular examples of initialisms in online messaging and their meaning.


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Answer

For example: LOL (Laughing Out Loud), OMG (Oh My God), ROFL (Rolling on Floor Laughing), LMK (Let Me Know) etc.

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Question

What does SoS (with a small ‘o’) stand for?


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Answer

 Secretary of State.

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Question

Can you think of other online text meanings for SOS?


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Answer

Someone Over Shoulder, Same Old Stuff, SomeOne Special.


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Question

Complete the following: 

An initialism can also be made from the initial letters of ... ... (BBC, FBI, CNN etc). 


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Answer

 brand names.


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Question

Choose the correct ending. (There may be more than one correct answer):

Initialisms are ...

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Answer

a)a convenient way of giving information quickly.

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Question

Divide the following into acronyms and initialisms:

Scuba, OED, Laser, OMG, TIME, MASH, DVD, FBI.

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Answer

Acronyms: Scuba, Laser, TIME, MASH.


Initialisms: OED, OMG, DVD, FBI.

Show question

Question

What is compounding?

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Answer

Compounding combines two or more words to create a new word.

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Question

Complete the following sentence: 

Compounds can be a …  of noun plus ..., ... plus noun,  ... plus noun etc.

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Answer

Compounds can be a combination of noun plus noun, verb plus noun,  adjective plus noun etc.

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Question

True or false? Compound nouns can be written in two ways: open form, and hyphenated form.


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Answer

False. Compound nouns can be written in three ways: open form, closed form and hyphenated form.

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Question

True or false? Compounds can be written as one word only.


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Answer

False. Compounds can be written as one word, as two separate words, or as a word with a hyphen.

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Question

Complete the following sentence:

 …. compounds lack a clear head and are also often called ... compounds.

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Answer

Exocentric compounds lack a clear head and are also often called headless compounds.


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Question

What is a coordinative compound? Give an example.


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Answer

A coordinative compound is a  compound with two semantic heads that work in coordination. For example: actor-manager, producer-director, theatre-museum etc.

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Question

True or false? 

Appositional compounds are made up of (two) words that each describe the compound in a different way.

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Answer

True.

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Question

What is a possessive compound? Give an example.


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Answer

A possessive compound is when the first part (or word) of the compound is a specific feature of the second. For example: white-collar, barefoot, highbrow etc.

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Question

Bedroom and toothpaste are compounds made up of noun + noun. What are the following compounds made up of? 

Sunrise, swimming pool, passer-by.

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Answer

Sunrise = noun + verb

Swimming pool = verb + noun

Passer-by = noun + adverb

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Question

 What is a compound sentence and give an example.


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Answer

A compound sentence is a combination of two or more independent clauses. For example, 'I love to travel, but I hate to arrive.'


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Question

What is zero derivation?

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Answer

Zero derivation happens when you create a word(eg. a noun) from another word (e.g. a verb)without changing its form.

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Question

What are other names for zero derivation?

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Answer

Zero derivation is also called null derivation, conversion, or functional shift.

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Question

True or false? 

Adjectives can be made into nouns but nouns cannot be made into adjectives.

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Answer

False. In English it is normal to find adjectives converted to nouns and vice-versa.

Example: They’re an intellectual crowd/ She’s an intellectual.

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Question

Complete the sentence: Zero derivation is also known as ... or …


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Answer

Zero derivation is also known as conversion or functional shift.

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Question

What is verbification (with examples)?


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Answer

Verbification happens when you convert any adjective, noun or non-verb to a verb (for example, the adjective ‘dirty’ becomes the verb ‘to dirty’).

Show question

Question

True or false? A zero article is an unrealized indefinite or 

definite article in some languages, such as the plural 

indefinite article in English.


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Answer

True.

Show question

Question

What is a zero morpheme?


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Answer

A zero morpheme is when a word changes its meaning but does not change its form.

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Question

Complete the following: ‘The word ‘sheep’ is an example of …’


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Answer

‘The word ‘sheep’ is an example of a zero morpheme.'

Show question

Question

Give some examples of verbification.

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Answer

 Mail, email, talk, salt, pepper, sleep, ship, train, stop, drink, etc.


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Question

Complete the following: Thousands of words have been formed by using ..., and the category is in constant ...


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Answer

Thousands of words have been formed by using 

verbification, and the category is in constant expansion.

Show question

Question

True of false? ‘To gift is not a proper verb, it’s just slang from TV!’ 


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Answer

False: ‘to gift’ is an old verb that fell out of use and has made a come-back.


Show question

Question

Give some examples of verbification in social media terms.

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Answer

 For example, ‘I will google it’, ‘let’s skype next week’, ‘you can whatsapp me on this number’, etc.

Show question

Question

 What does neology mean?

Show answer

Answer

Neology is the process of creating new words and phrases which then turn into neologisms. This can involve adopting words that exist and adapting them to show a different or same meaning.

Show question

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