Modern Neologisms In The Texts Of British And American High -Quality Newspapers


The vocabulary of each country is constantly changing and developing in different ways. This process reflects the global nature of language and communication. It shows how quickly the use of new words or meanings can move from one end of the globe to the other. English neologism s, marked by online English dictionaries for the period 2016-2019, became the object of study of this article. Media occupies an important place among the intermediaries in the dissemination of new words. Journalists can be the authors of neologisms, and like news editions, they can open up new prospects for the use of various neologisms. A new word in the text of the newspaper goes through the stage of socialization. In addition, semantic novelty gives rise to pragmatic novelty. The material for the study was the online media texts of high-quality British and American newspapers. This allows us to obtain a detailed understanding of the specifics of neologism s and allows us to trace the level of productivity of their use in the two main diatonic versions of the English language. The results obtained indicate that there is a consistent pattern before lexicographers begin to observe an interest in the society for new words it takes at least 3-4 years. The same trend is observed when using neologism s on the pages of quality newspapers. Sometimes a new lexical unit gets a stylistic connotation. The dynamics of the use of lexical innovations is cyclical in connection with the importance of the problems that arise in society.

Keywords: Media textsneologismnoveltypragmatic potential


Modern life requires the study of all that is new in language. Like any language, English is experiencing a "neological boom." There are a number of definitions for the term "neologism." According to Cambridge English Dictionary, it is “a new word or expression, or a new meaning for an existing word”. In researches, scientists often use the term “coinage” (Crystal, 2002). Neologisms — newly coined words or new senses of an existing word — are constantly being introduced into a language (Algeo, 1980). An ever-growing stream of new names contributes to a significant expansion of the neological space of the language (Katermina, 2017).

The field of neology has attracted the attention of linguists for more than a dozen years. A large number of research papers are devoted to the study and analysis of neologisms. Literature review revealed that the majority of research studies on neologisms belong to the field of linguistics. They are based on five theories, which define neologisms from different perspectives: stylistic theory (Ratsiburskaya & Solovyeva, 2018; Rets, 2014); denotation theory (Ulanova, 2014); structural theory (Toropkina, 2019); etymological theory (Cook, 2010); lexicographic theory (Yashina & Polyakova, 2017). Nevertheless, the specificity of the object under study is such that the topic does not exhaust itself, and research works continue to be relevant.

The appeal to the study of neologisms within the framework of a media text makes perfect sense. The continuous appearance of information in the media affects processes such as direct formation of neologisms and the dissemination, the way they are used in the language. At the same time, depending on the frequency of using new lexical formations on the pages of high-quality newspapers, one can talk about the trends of the penetration of lexical innovations into the literary language and their fixation in dictionaries. In our work, we will add on to neologisms not only new words in form and meaning, but also units already present in the nominative fund whose meaning has been transformed.

Problem Statement

Media quickly respond to the emergence of new objects and phenomena of the world. However, one should not forget that in the modern communicative environment new types of media behavior of people have arisen (Kondrashkina & Maslova, 2018). A media text, like any other text, is a concrete act of communication and is one of the most common forms of the language’s modern existence. Its main feature is that its ultimate goal is not only communication of information, but also a certain impact on the reader, that is, his pragmatic orientation (Terekhova et al., 2018). Thus, in the course of the study, it is important to consider the functioning of neologisms as a communicative-pragmatic means in media texts, and to study the factors of linguistic and cultural conditionality of their application. It allows us to obtain a more detailed understanding of the specifics of the occurrence of neologisms and to trace the level of productivity of their use in the two main diatonic versions of the English language, therefore, media texts from the high-quality press of the United States and Great Britain were chosen for the study.

Research Questions

3.1. Determine the thematic relevance of lexical innovations of the designated period (2016-2019).

3.2. Establish patterns of appearance of lexical innovations.

3.3. Analyze the pragmatic conditionality of new words used on the pages of high-quality newspapers.

3.4. Conduct a comparative analysis of the use of neologisms in the two main diatonic versions of the English language

Purpose of the Study

The main goal of this study is to determine the specifics of the appearance of English neologisms and their actualization in everyday communication through media texts of online publications of high-quality British and American newspapers from the standpoint of a functional-pragmatic approach. The implementation of this goal is carried out with solving the tasks.

Research Methods

Thematic analysis of lexical units represented by lexicographic online publications

In the work, the selection of lexical innovations was carried out using online English dictionaries with regularly updated corpus: Macmillan Buzzword Dictionary (2020), Oxford Dictionaries and Collins English Dictionary for the period 2016-2019.

We analyzed the words and phrases that were presented in these online publications as the words of the year, as well as their shortlists. Although a word has not necessarily been coined over the past twelve months, the appearance of the words in the list is supported by statistics usage; the word should have become noticeable. This trend helps to understand how the language could change in the previous year and how it might develop (Table 01 ).

Table 1 -
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The quantitative ratio of lexical units according to the thematic division was calculated within one year, where the total annual indicator corresponded to 100%. The most popular are the words and phrases associated with forms of social communication and behaviour, for example, “echo chamber”, “gaslighting”, “influencer”, “mic drop”, “milkshake duck”, “orbiting”, etc. In addition, many of the studied words have their roots in political or activist circles, for example; “entryist”, “cakeism”, “youthquake”, “take a knee”, etc. They clearly reflect the heightened emotional and political state in which many people currently live.

The rapidly growing interest of the English-speaking society in the problems of ecology, environment and climate is obvious. It was just clear that issues relating to the climate were running through all the different lexical items. Oxford Dictionaries has named “climate emergency” as its 2019 Word of the Year, choosing it from an all-environmental shortlist that also included “climate action,” “climate denial,” “eco-anxiety,” “extinction” and “flight shame . ” The use of the term “climate emergency” increased by a hundredfold since 2018, according to data collected in the Oxford Corpus. In fact, it was the most common compound involving “emergency.”

Thus, having highlighted not only popular, but also new formations within thematic groups, we turned to the study of their pragmatic potential on the basis of English-language quality newspapers. The corpus of the English texts of the newspaper discourse served as the material of this research, namely the articles presented by the sites of the high-quality British and the American newspapers such as “The Guardian”, “Independent”, “New York Times”, “The Washington Post”.

Analysis of the neologization from the point of view of the linguocultural approach

Neologization is a complex process. Gradually, the conceptual sphere of the language is updated with the transformation of society and the changing of the previously existing picture of the world (Ionova, 2016). Thus, we use the descriptive-analytical method, which includes a chronological criterion that indicates the emergence and functioning of neologism in the modern period of development of society and language. As well as a functional criterion that takes into account the denotative relevance of a new word to indicate a new reality (object, phenomenon, and concept).

The Oxford English Dictionary has called “post-truth” the international word in 2016. According to the publisher, the concept of post-truth has existed for the past decade, but in 2016, it became widespread. The term is a semantic euphemism implying the presence of false, inaccurate and false information in journalistic works (Ershov, 2018). In 2017, the phrase “fake news” was the phrase of the year according to Collins English Dictionary, since its frequency of use over this period increased by 365%. In 2019, Collins English Dictionary included “deepfake” in the shortlist of the year. “Deepfake” is a technical term. However, many areas of life are closely interconnected, the growing pragmatic potential of this word is obvious. Therefore, “fake news”, “post - truth” and “deepfake” are the pressing issues in modern society (Chudinov et al., 2019).

According to our research, the use of neologism “fake news” on the pages of online versions of American newspapers, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, has almost doubled annually over the past three years, starting from 2018. However, in The Guardian and Independent, the combination of “fake news” is much less in demand, but the number of articles using this combination in 2019 has increased significantly compared to 2018 in the framework of its own corpus. Thus, the phrase “fake news” is linked with American journalism not only historically, but also in terms of usage dynamics, it is widely used in the American media. Moreover, the phrase “post - truth” is more often used in the British media. In particular, the pages of The Guardian recorded more articles with its use in 2017 and in 2019, even compared to Independent. On the pages of Independent, the phrase was very popular in 2016. In fact, “post – truth” in the modern mediated world is perceived as a communicative process and is used not only in connection with political events and events, but also acts as an ideological background in exposing inaccurate information of any format. Thus, in a crisis of objective fact, new words continue to arise.

Features of the use of new nominations in English-language media texts

This approach to the study of neologisms in various language variants in modern linguistics is important not only from the point of view of a purely descriptive study of neologisms and the systematization of productive methods, but also to the establishment of trends and patterns in the formation of new words from the point of view of a communicative-pragmatic approach. Clearly, the use of neologisms in media tests ties the narrative to modern times.

In the indicated period, various political and cultural movements were popular: “antifa”, “bopo”, “climate strike”, “hopepunk”, “#Metoo”, “youthquake”. In 2017, young adults had unexpectedly caused significant tremors to vibrate through the political landscape, their collective influence resulting in what has become dubbed a “youthquake”. The word is of course a blend of “youth” and “earthquake”. Macmillan included it in the BUZZWORD list in 2018. It was not the new word for 2017. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly a refreshing antidote to the divisive overtones of newcomers such as “fake news”, “post-truth”. As the results of our study show, British newspapers showed considerable interest in this youth movement.

 In addition to political movements and events, the problems of the social sphere become more urgent. In 2018, #Metoo (the Me Too Movement) received a big response (Shkapenko & Milyavskaya, 2020). As defined by Collins English Dictionary (2019), the term is “denoting a cultural movement that seeks to expose and eradicate predatory sexual behaviour, esp. in the workplace “. The statistics of our study show that the number of media texts covering this movement in American newspapers for 2018-2019 is ten times higher than the number of British media texts. In addition, American journalists use different variations in combination with #Metoo. In addition to the traditional “movement”, they add to the hashtag #Metoo the following words: “case”, “reporting”, “era”, “effect”, “debate”, “reckoning”, “accusation”, “hurricane”, “response”, “story”. Obviously, the word creation of journalists is dictated with the desire for expressiveness. The pragmatics of a new word differs from the pragmatics of an ordinary common word, in our case “movement”. Therefore, these words (case, reporting, era, effect, debate, reckoning, accusation, hurricane, response, story) we consider as the rheme. They performs an expressive function much more efficiently.

The problem of misinformation is also widespread in the context of interpersonal communication between users of social networks. So, in 2017, the new word “kittenfishing” was noticed. Collins English Dictionary (2019) defined it as “using highly edited or otherwise flattering photos of yourself on online dating sites”. The word “kittenfishing” as a lexical innovation was rarely used for the period 2017-2019 by the British authors of media texts and was practically not used by the American authors. However, there is “catfishing”. It comes from the 2010 documentary ‘Catfish’. The meaning of this neologism was presented as “someone using a fake identity in order to pursue an online relationship on social media websites”. Besides, over the course of 10 years, the word has not lost its relevance. Therefore, aspects of “catfishing” are regularly discussed on the pages of newspapers. We believe “kittenfishing” is a hyponym for the word “catfishing”. Of course, it takes time for the lexical innovation to become clear to readers and accordingly become popular on the pages of quality newspapers.

In 2018, the word “gaslighting” was included in the shortlists by several dictionary editions at once. As Oxford Dictionaries explains, it is “the action of manipulating someone by psychological means into accepting a false depiction of reality or doubting their own sanity“. “Gaslighting” is not a lexical innovation, but in 2018, the term “gaslighting” emerged from the psychotherapist’s notebook to feature widely in discussions across the public realm, aided in part by growing public sensitivity to the importance of mental health and wellbeing. This problem is also relevant both for British and American society.

An essential feature of neologisms is that their number, the process of their appearance and mass use reveal the state of the language in a certain period of time, the mentality of the people, their pressing problems.


Analysis of the actual material in the period from 2016 to 2019 showed that the number of abbreviations amounted to 3% of the entire lexical unit corpus, namely: JOMO (“Joy of missing out”), STEAM (“science, technology, engineering, art and maths: an educational approach”), BDE (“Big Dick Energy”), VAR (“video assistant referee”). The most popular term in American and British online newspapers is VAR. JOMO and BDE also met from time to time in media texts, but STEAM is not yet in demand in the media due to the narrow specificity. Famous phrases and words that have received a new meaning account for 17% of the total. Among them, we note the popular and interesting cases: “unicorn”, “influencer”, “cancel”, “gammon”, “floss”, “upsum”, etc. There are combinations such as “deep learning” and “gig economy” etc. They have new meanings and they are popular in media texts.

Some words, such as, “climate action,” “global heating,” “extinction” and some others, we did not consider as lexical innovations. Such cases turned out to be 4-5% of the entire corps of the studied units. Nevertheless, almost 65% were new in form and in meaning. Analysing media texts devoted to the environmental issues; we drew attention to such new formations as “flight shame”, “plogging”. These two words came from Swedish. “Plogging is a leisure activity in which people pick up litter while jogging”, Collins dictionary included it in the shortlist in 2018 and Macmillan dictionary defined it as BUZZWORD in 2019. “Flight shame” was in the shortlist of Oxford Dictionaries in 2019. “Flight shame” means “a reluctance to travel by air, or discomfort at doing so, because of the damaging emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by aircraft”. Despite the fact that both “flight shame” and “plogging” are created with the most productive ways such as compounding and blending. Nevertheless, the ideological concept of these lexical innovations was not widespread in British media texts, only the concept of “flight shame” attracted American journalists. It becomes clear that many new words will have a low frequency of use, since they have not appeared in the language long ago. In addition, words of foreign origin do not equally enter the English language on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thus, it is necessary to note a general pattern. Before lexicographers begin to observe a massive interest in new words it takes at least 3-4 years after their appearance. The same trend is observed with using new words on the pages of quality newspapers. As we know, “Brexit” first appeared in 2012, it has been named Collins Word of the Year 2016 and Macmillan Dictionary mentioned it as a Buzzword in 2016. Now its popularity is equally high and in British and American newspapers. In addition, derivative word forms began to appear. They are “Brexiety”, “Brexiteer”, “Brextremist”, “Brexodus”. These derivatives are very popular among British journalists. In American newspapers, “Brexit” dominates and there are only a few articles with one new form “Brexodus”. The presence of the linguocultural aspect with the unequal use of terms in two diatonic versions of the English language is obvious. It is important to note that journalists and newspapers editions themselves open up new prospects for the use of neologisms. From the beginning, “cakeism” was used in the political sphere, but lexicographers from Oxford Dictionaries saw examples of the word “cakeism” used in other industries. Besides, some news organizations, including The Guardian, use “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” instead of “climate change,” to better convey the urgency of the situation.

Of course, not all lexical innovations can be met on the pages of high-quality newspapers, as a rule, these words have arisen in the youth environment. The use of such neologisms reinforces the feeling of modernity, but then the media are at risk of alienating the part of the audience of the older generation. Nevertheless, we cannot deny that from time to time lexical innovations from social networks come to quality newspapers.

In the study of language vocabulary, the emphasis on neologisms allows us to get a more detailed understanding of lexical developments. It also allows us to discuss the level of productivity and creativity present in various language variants, as well as the occurrence of mutual lexical influences.


Most of neologisms describe mainly political issues, economic problems, trends in the development of modern technologies, social phenomena of society. However, not all new words that have been marked by well-known dictionary editions everywhere on both sides of the Atlantic in a given time period will be added to the main corpus of dictionaries. In addition, not all of these words are popular, relevant and in demand in the media sphere and, in particular, in media texts. In the era of global mediatisation and changed conditions of communication, high-quality editions cannot ignore the emerging new lexical units, since neologisms with their inherent topicality designate processes, objects and phenomena in the life of modern society. Our study showed that after the word was noted from the point of view of its widespread use, a certain period might pass when neologism becomes popular among authors of media texts. Because the relevance of neologisms for journalists is directly related to their pragmatic markedness. Sometimes a new lexical unit gets a stylistic connotation that limits its application. Besides, the dynamics of the use of new words is cyclical in connection with the importance of the problems that arise in society. Interest in neologisms of past years may change, their relevance may increase, and lexical innovations that are similar in meaning may appear. Then, over time, we can talk about the appearance of hyponyms and hyperonyms in relation to the already known lexical units. Therefore, the study of neologisms in different languages has even greater prospects.


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27 May 2021

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Lebedeva, E. (2021). Modern Neologisms In The Texts Of British And American High -Quality Newspapers. In E. V. Toropova, E. F. Zhukova, S. A. Malenko, T. L. Kaminskaya, N. V. Salonikov, V. I. Makarov, A. V. Batulina, M. V. Zvyaglova, O. A. Fikhtner, & A. M. Grinev (Eds.), Man, Society, Communication, vol 108. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 195-202). European Publisher.