Neologism

By Christina Anderson

A newly created word whose meaning is unknown to others (from Greek – neo = “new” + logos = “word”). The use of neologisms is common in children, but is considered indicative of brain damage or a thought disorder (like schizophrenia) when present in adults.

Example: “The only problem I have is my frustionating!”

Neologisms can exist outside of psychiatry and be seen in mainstream language, but only after they have been created and accepted by society (example; Stephen Colbert’s creation of the word ‘truthiness’ which has become an accepted word in society).

However, in a clinical setting, neologisms created by those with schizophrenia or other thought disorders are not frequently understood and bear a resemblance to “word salad” which is another aspect of schizophrenia (word salad is similar to ‘gibberish’, words in no discernible order that doesn’t make sense to anyone beyond the speaker).


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jul 2012