The Invention of Words

Only rarely are words fully invented in the English language. Coining new words from the scratch is seldom to be found since other processes, in particular borrowing words from other languages, acronyms, initialisms as well as blends, are easily at hand and thus more likely to spread among the language community.

Still, not only in literature, films, and in the vast field of science but also within creative advertising, new words are invented. As a well-known author of children’s books Dr. Seuss, for instance, created a word to characterize his small comic figure that today is virulent in youth language – namely the word nerd to denotate an "insignificant, foolish, or socially inept person." A nerd is therefore perceived as a person who is "boringly conventional or studious" as the OED defines.

A Nerd

Source of the picture:
"And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo
And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep and a Proo
A Nerkle, a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!"

Geisel ,Theodor "Seuss".If I Ran the Zoo. London: Random House, 1950.


Further good examples are brand names such as Kodak as the proprietary name of a range of cameras and Xerox as a proprietary name of photocopiers. Interestingly enough, today the use of Xeros is no longer restricted to photocopiers made by the company Xeros; instead, the word now rather loosely denotes to all photocopiers irrespective of the brand. Xeros has become the descriptor of an entire sector -- a generic trademark. (also: Hoover, Kleenex) This word formation process is called coinage. Note that the brand which invented the name usually holds a copyright on the word - therefore it is wise to avoid their use in academic papers.