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neologism

Printable Version
Pronunciation: nee-ah-lê-ji-zêm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A new word, new expression, or new use of a word. 2. (Theology) A new doctrine or interpretation of a scripture.

Notes: Today's Good Word is based on the noun neology "the creation of new words". Someone who creates a new word is a neologist. Anything pertaining to neologisms is neologistic or neologistical, with the meaningless suffix -al. However, to achieve the adverb, you must include this suffix, neologistically. You can base your adjective on neology, too, and come to neological, a synonym of neologistical.

In Play: Not all neologisms make it into the general vocabulary. M. C. Andres defines jobstacle as "anything interfering with your work", and burniture as "furniture you buy at a fire sale". These two qualify as sniglets, words made up to garner a laugh or two. Real neologisms must have a purpose for all speakers of English, words like app, logon, and username, to mention a few already rather old neologisms entering the language because of the spread of computer use.

Word History: Today's word comprises Greek neo- "new" + logos "word, idea" + -ism "philosophy; characteristic". I discussed the origin of Greek neos in the entry for neophyte. I've also discussed the origin of logos elsewhere, but maybe it's time to review that discussion. Logos goes back to a word with two forms, leg-/log- "to collect; to speak". The E-form shows up in lexicon, a collection of words, but also in a series of legal terms, like legal and legislature. We can imagine a fit for these two senses if we assume that before the split, the word of the king was law. Latin lex [leg-s] "law" could have originally been a collection of the king's words in that sense. This is just an educated guess, though. (Never thrown by a neologism, Mark Bailey recommended today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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