A Neologism is newly created (or “coined”) word.

New words often apply to new concepts or inventions, or perhaps when an old idea takes on a new meaning.

Some random neologisms:

  • aspirin
  • hyperspace
  • internet
  • Islamaphobia
  • wiki
  • bling
  • wmd
  • phishing

Quite simply, these words did not exist several years ago.


Washington Post columnist Bob Levey ran a monthly neologism competition for over 20 years (from 1983 til 2004, when he retired). Readers were invited to send in new words made by taking existing words and adding, subtracting, or changing one letter to yield a new definition. Here are a few wordplays he received over the years.

Cashtration The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
Intaxication Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
Bozone The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
Reintarnation Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Foreploy Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.
Sarchasm The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn’t get it.
Inoculatte To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
Hipatitis Terminal coolness.
Osteopornosis A degenerate disease.
Burglesque A poorly planned break-in.
Karmageddon It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like a serious bummer.
Glibido All talk and no action.
Ignoranus A person who’s both stupid and an a**hole.

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Posted in Linguistics.

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