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Neologism Texts

While the online neologism references have the advantage of continual, seamless updating, printed neologism texts are typically more extensive and still carry greater authority. Only the best of these are shown below, with “5” denoting the creme de la creme and a “1” identifying the least valuable (the crud editions don’t merit a “0” rating, much less a listing).

Most volumes have a publisher’s website so you can read more about it, usually with sample entries. Just click the site’s title to go there.



Pub Date


12000 Words: Supplement to Webster’s Int’l



Out of print but available from online booksellers Alibris & half.com, it’s the largest collection of neologisms ever printed. Demoted to “3” due to pub date, this supplement is further supplemented by “6000 New Words” (1975) and “9000 New Words” (1983).

America in So Many Words



The evolution of American English is a story worth reading, and authors Metcalf and Barnhart tell it well. Specific words draw out the history surrounding its origin. Far from exhaustive (300+ words), and restricted to American English = a “3” rating.

Barnhart New-Words Concordance



Publisher Lexik House has pulled together the bits and pieces of our developing lexicon into this impressive 800 page compendium. Neologisms and usages are straightforward and succinct, but the real benefit is extensive source references. A “4” due to pub date.

Longman Register of New Words



This is basically a collection of 1,200 new words gathered from print in the late 1980’s, along with definitions, first sightings, and contexts. Dated, skimpy, but important to a slice of time.

A Century of New Words



Here’s the inside scoop on neologisms introduced to the language between 1900 and 2004, by John Ayto, premier lexicographer of our time. Hugely entertaining and very educational, not only about words but the historical context of each one. 256 pgs.

Neologisms: New Words Since 1960



Author Johnathan Green packed over 2,000 new English terms (and more than 4,000 definitions) into this solid text. But print gets dated in this field, and the book is hard to find. Try Alibris.

Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success



Allan Metcalf helps the reader understand how neologisms are born, and more importantly, how a few get traction and staying power. 224 pgs.

Oxford Dictionary of New Words



Updating the 1st Edition (1991), this tome adds over 2,000 coined terms culled from British parlance and text since 1980. This is the laser of neologisms, not just another collection.

Word Spy: The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture



An up-to-date collection of coined words and phrases (heavy on phrases), this book brings them to life with usages, contexts, origins, and more. 420 pgs.