Neologism: A new word or phrase, typically coined to express economically a meaning not conveyed by any single word in the dictionary, or a new usage of an existing word or phrase. Words as common today as intellectual and television were once neologisms, as was Cabinet in its governmental sense. So were Kleenex and Xerox, trademarks that have entered popular parlance as synonyms for “facial tissue” and “photocopy,” respectively. Writers may invent neologisms in literary works to convey an idea or create an effect that no existing word could convey or create.

EXAMPLES: Horace Walpole invented the word serendipity by adding the “-ity” suffix to “Serendip,” an old name for Sri Lanka, linking the word in a January 8, 1754, letter to a Persian fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip, who “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.” James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (1939) is rife with neologisms, including words such as bethicket and funferal. Jerry W. Ward Jr.’s poem “Jazz to Jackson to John” (1988) incorporates a neologism in the second of the following lines: “yeah, brother, it must have been something / striking you like an eargasm, / a baritone ax laid into soprano wood …”

The Beatles’ use of “snide” as a verb in “I Am the Walrus” (1967) is neologistic, as is rapper Snoop Dogg’s use of “Snoop Latin,” which involves the insertion of “izz,” “izzay,” or other “izz-” forms to create neologisms such as bizznatch, a combination of “bitch” and “snatch.” Other contemporary neologisms include many Internet-related terms (e.g., blog, netiquette, podcast) and truthiness, an old term given new meaning by mock-pundit Stephen Colbert in The Colbert Report debut (October 17, 2005) to describe a conception of truth based not on fact but on what one personally feels or wishes to be true.