A neologism is a new word, a new phrase, or an old word with a new meaning.
It might be that a large group of people are using the neologism, or it might be that one person just made it up and is the only one using it.
nee ALL uh jiz um
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one neologism or multiple neologisms/neologies.)
Neological, neologically, neologist(s), neologize.
For the plural, you can say "neologies" to mean multiple new words, or even say "neology" for the general idea of new words, but "neologisms" is more common.
How to use it:
If your listener hasn't heard this word before, it's no problem--the roots make the meaning obvious. ("Neo" means "new," and "-logy" is a noun ending for words about words.)
Just to be clear, though, a neologism isn't an existing word that's new to you--it's a brand-new word that's new to everyone when it pops up. (Unless it's an old word with a new meaning. That's a neologism, too. I recently blogged about a particular one.)
Like with "contemporary," "present," "today," etc., "neologism" is a time-referenced term. That is, you can talk about current neologisms, like "influencer" and "updoot," but you can also talk about words that were neologisms at the time they arrived--like Shakespeare's many neologisms (including "barefaced,") or the neologisms of the 1990s (including "uptalk," that thing when valley girls lift their voices up at the end of a sentence even when it's not a question.)
So, talk about making neologisms, using neologisms, having neologisms for a certain thing or person, etc. A speech or piece of writing might be full of neologisms; you might notice the emergence of neologisms from a certain group of people or a certain area of the world; you could enter a neologism contest to exercise your creativity, etc.
You can use the word possessively: "his neologism," "Sarah's neologism," and so on. And you can add adjectives, as in "a trendy neologism," "an unnecessary neologism," "an ugly neologism," "a strange neologism," and "an elegant neologism."
Because I spend time teaching teenagers, a fair number of trendy neologisms creep into my vocabulary without me realizing it until my husband says something like, "Okay, but what do you mean by 'ratchet' in that context?"
In some extremely permissive rounds of Scrabble, my family and I have laughed endlessly over neologisms like "chairgaps." The house rule is, if you make up a word to play, you have to invent a convincing definition, too.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "neologism" means when you can explain it without saying “fresh word" or "new term."
Think of a trendy new word you've been hearing a lot, and fill in the blanks: "There's definitely a need (or 'definitely not a need') for the neologism '_____,' because _____."
Example 1: "There's definitely a need for the neologism 'binge watch,' because it describes our new entertainment consumption habits perfectly."
Example 2: "Other than how it provides a particularly hip and blunt way to express an idea, there's definitely not a need for the neologism 'butthurt,' because we already have 'offended,' 'provoked,' 'aggrieved,' 'slighted,' and so on."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
We’re starting off with easy questions, then working our way toward some whoppers at the end of the month, all the while focusing on funny, unusual words; surprising word histories; and cool tidbits about the language.
Name as many as you can of the ten words for body parts that have three letters each.
Leg, ear, rib, arm, hip, gum, eye, jaw, toe, lip.
Try this one today. It should still feel fairly easy:
Because October (Latin “octo,” meaning “eight”) was the eighth month in the Roman year, in what month did that year originally begin?
A Point Well Made:
Katherine Paterson, via her character, Trotter: "But you just fool yourself if you expect good things all the time. They ain't what's regular--don't nobody owe 'em to you."
1. The opposite of NEOLOGISM is
A. EPHEMERAL PHRASE
B. TIMEWORN TERM
C. UNHEEDED ADVICE
2. Whether you embrace or eschew neologisms may depend on _____.
A. your grades in school
B. your overall skill in spelling
C. your comfort with sounding voguish or youthful
Answers are below.
To be a sponsor and send your own message to readers of this list, please contact Liesl at Liesl@HiloTutor.com.
Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
Subscribe to "Make Your Point" for a daily vocabulary boost.