Where Do New Words Come from?

The English language is filled with thousands of words, and every day, new words are added to its vocabulary. It is the same with every language, where new words are added through interactions with other cultures. The English language has experienced several evolvements over several centuries, evolving into what we speak today. The English language is also influenced by other cultures, the most prominent being Latin and Greek. Today, the majority of new words are a result of borrowing from other cultures, while a few others come from modern pop culture (Learn about the nativist theory of language development).

Most times, new words in the English language aren’t new, this is a result of several types of word formations. Here are some of the most common types:

  1. AFFIXATION: We are all familiar with the use of prefixes and suffixes, which is the addition of words at the beginning or end of words to create new meanings. Today, this is one of the most common ways new words are added to the English language. Examples include Awesome(ness), (semi)-popular, and so on. With the addition of these affixes, new words with new meanings can be created; this is also because these affixes have meanings in their rights, hence when they are attached to other words, it could create an entirely new word, with a new meaning.
  2. TRUNCATION: This is otherwise known as clipping, and refers to the process of cutting down an existing word to create another word. The word omitted or deleted is usually known as the When the letters removed are at the end of a word, it is called back-clipping. A perfect example is the word exam. Exam comes from the word examination. The other kind of clipping is fore-clipping, which involves the omission of the first letters of a word. An example is the word influenza which was cut down from the beginning and ending to form flu. Or the word telephone which was cut down to form phone.
  3. BORROWING: As earlier mentioned, this is one of the most common ways new words come to life. The English language – according to experts – borrows from more than 120 languages, most of which come from cultures in Europe. Right from the Renaissance to this present day, the language has adopted more words to fit new objects and experiences.
  4. BLENDING: Blending is the process of merging two words that have different meanings to form a new one. An example is pixel which has become a major word that people often forget it’s a blend of the words picture and Other examples include Frankenfood, Dragonball, and so on. This form of word creation most times create slang words that contain a certain element of playfulness. However, they can also create new words that can be used in essays or articles.
  5. COMPOUNDING: This is a process whereby two independent words are brought together to form a new word. Examples include backseat driver and this refers to a person who offers unsolicited advice to a driver of a vehicle to the point where it gets annoying.
  6. NAMES OF REPUTABLE PERSONS AND PLACES: This is another way new words are made; over time, the names of reputable individuals and places sometimes find their way into the English language. The word denim for example comes from serge de Nîmes, a fabric that has roots in Nimes, France. Another example is the word silhouette, which comes from the name of a French controller General of Finance, Étienne de Silhouette.

Conclusively, more words will surely find their way into the English language in the coming centuries, and this will further expand our vocabulary. (What are the longest words in English?)

Where do new words come from in English

Leave a Comment