Posted by: Jack Henry | June 1, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Neologisms

My dear coworker Jane sent me an interesting tweet from Grammar Girl about two neologisms: teamish and brown baggery. A neologism is a newly coined word that makes its way into everyday usage. Unfortunately, Grammar Girl didn’t explain what either of these terms meant and they aren’t that common. Here’s a little of what I found on the Internet. I don’t think either item is what she meant:

· teamish – An anagram of atheism. As a personal guess, I’d say “like a team.”

· brown baggery; brown bagger – A woman with a great body but an ugly face (that gets a brown bag over it). In my world, it is someone who brings their own lunch, but brown baggery? Just bringing your lunch to work?

Instead of focusing on those, here is an article from Grammar Monster, which explains some neologisms and their definitions. In the meantime, if any of you know what Grammar Girl might mean by teamish and brown baggery mean, please share!


Some neologisms are formally accepted into mainstream language (at which point, they cease to be neologisms), and some wither until they can no longer be considered everyday terms. A neologism can be:

· A completely new word (e.g., oversharers)

· A new combination of existing words (e.g., digital detox)

· A new meaning for an existing word (e.g., sick)

Examples of Neologisms

The following are examples of neologisms at the time of writing (2014):

· Oversharers: People who post too much information (which is often boring or embarrassing) about themselves on line.

· Digital Detox: Abstaining from electronic devices to re-engage with the physical world, typically to lower stress levels.

· Sick: Good.

Examples of Old "Neologisms"

The following former neologisms have been formally accepted into mainstream language (this usually means appearing in a respectable dictionary). As a result, they can no longer be classified as neologisms.

· D’oh!: An exclamation meaning damn (usually after a mistake by the speaker).

· Wicked: Good or cool.

· To Google: To look up information on the internet.

Note: The term "old neologism" is an oxymoron (i.e., a self-contained contradiction).

Examples of Neologisms under Transition

The following neologisms can be considered under transition. In other words, they are still neologisms, but it is likely they will be accepted into mainstream language soon.

· Metrosexual: A heterosexual man who likes the interests traditionally associated with women or homosexual men (e.g., shopping, fashion, his appearance).

· Noob: A person new to an online gaming community.

· Staycation: A vacation at home or near home (usually due to financial constraints preventing a holiday abroad).

· Troll: A person who posts obnoxious comments to an online community.

KC – All of the transitional neologisms, except noob, are now in the Merriam-Webster dictionary; however, the alternate spelling newb is in the dictionary.

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