Around 1999, a woman told me about this sort of meta-verb (in English) which I found so magical. I've been searching for this word again but can't find it.

As an example, I could say "Look, I attached these three short wooden rods to the bottom of this flat circle of wood. I can place it so that the rods are against the floor and then rest my bottom against the circle of wood, thereby elevating me above the floor. How nice." But if instead I say, "I made a stool," I've taken that whole idea and expressed it in one word, and this word carries meaning even beyond the one stool I just made. If there were no such word, stool, this concept of wood-assisted buttocks elevation would never congeal in the same way.

What is the word for this thing that happens when a word for something is created or discovered?

Edit: I really appreciate all of these awesome words you all have shared. I've been studying the meanings of neologism and reify. And I think what I'm basically looking for is neologistic reification. Does anyone know of a single word synonym for something like neologistic reification?

  • I know what you mean, but cannot think of a word. Perhaps someone needs to create the very word that describes the process of word-creation. I am not sure that I support your optimism for such a practice however. It is all very well with something animate, like a stool. But the problem when you name an abstract idea, is that the name can take on a life of its own. Words such as 'evolution', 'socialist', 'atheist', 'liberal' are all immensely powerful words from the 19th century, but all can mean almost anything anyone decides for the moment they want them to mean. – WS2 Nov 11 '13 at 23:16
  • I'm not looking to create a word. There already is a word. I knew the word about 14 years ago. But I haven't been able to remember it for about 12 years. The woman who taught be about it learned it from a college professor of hers, and it stuck with her. – Mark Bailey Nov 11 '13 at 23:28
  • 1
    Do you mean reify tr.v. ... To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence? ... concretise? ... externalise? ...objectivise? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 11 '13 at 23:30
  • reify - That's extremely close (in meaning I mean). If I could duct tape reify to neologism and stick them in a blender, that would be the word I remember. – Mark Bailey Nov 11 '13 at 23:40
  • 1
    The words incarnation , incarnate are usually reserved for the special case of Jesus' taking on human 'flesh' (ie becoming a man) (whilst continuing to be part of the Godhead). As one of Jesus' titles is 'the Word', and 'God speaks and it is created', there is an obvious tie-in (but don't expect anyone to be able to fully explain the actualities involved or even the semantics). There is nothing blasphemous about using 'incarnation' for 'fleshing out' in less holy circumstances, though. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '13 at 10:59

Neologism, coining a new word. This can also be used as a noun.

  • Um. You just said that a noun can also be used as a noun. – RegDwigнt Nov 11 '13 at 23:06
  • Whoops. Now it is fixed. – Jonathan Spirit Nov 11 '13 at 23:13
  • Thank you for your answer. The word I'm looking for more specifically describes the birth of concept. There is a phrase used in computer science that is similar - hierarchical abstraction, the ability to work with broad functional ideas, without having to consider the minutia of the functions and processes that are being leverage for your current use. Encapsulation is the process of bundling areas of code under a single class or function name, and it gives rise to hierarchical abstraction. Neologism is like encapsulation. I'm looking for something more like hierarchical abstraction... – Mark Bailey Nov 11 '13 at 23:23
  • Then it is time to create a new word. To the etymologies! I'll be back with a new, valid word formulated through English roots. – Jonathan Spirit Nov 11 '13 at 23:45
  • Even Geoff Pullum doesn't have the power to impose new words. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '13 at 0:08

What you describe is the epistemological process of concept-formation called integration. To integrate means to render something whole. Mental integration is the cardinal function of man's consciousness - integration of sense data into percepts followed by the conscious integration of percepts into concepts (stool in your example).


A couple of possibilities:

  • to sublimate

  • to hypostatize

  • Why sublimate? It already has meanings. – WS2 Nov 11 '13 at 23:47
  • 1
    @WS2, I think you misunderstood the original question. – GluePear Nov 11 '13 at 23:47
  • hypostatize is another very closely related word, and a really awesome word, I must add. Thank you. – Mark Bailey Nov 11 '13 at 23:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.