It is not the first time I come cross the term womenomics used to refer to a wider presence of women in the economic activities of a country. In this case it refers to Japan, a country where women have traditionally little presence in the business and political life.

It seems that the term womenomics first appeared in 2009 as the title of a book which deals with this issue extensively. As of now in 2014, the term is absent from most dictionaries, and even in Google NGram there is not yet any evidence of it.

Can we consider womenomics a neologism? Or if we cannot, then what standard of usage does a new word generally need to meet for it to be considered a neologism?

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    A neologism is simply a newly coined word, regardless of how standard it is considered or how much it is used. Since womenomics is definitely not inherited from Old English, borrowed from some other language, or a word coined a long time ago, I'd say that makes it a neologism by default. May 10, 2014 at 7:13
  • Is there a term for a coined word that hasn't really entered the general lexicon? A similar case would be "freakonomics", which was the title of a book and its authors' blog, but isn't really used much outside their context.
    – Barmar
    May 10, 2014 at 8:55
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    @Barmar most words are not really used much. Literally a hundred thousand in English alone. Nothing unusual. And for neologisms, the rate is of course much higher still. So having a term for that is like having a term for "a dog that is not purple" or "a skyscraper that has more than two stories". That'd be three words more that nobody ever uses.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 10, 2014 at 10:13
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    This seems to be the kind of word I think of as a "marketing-ism". Like freakonomics, it's more about marketing the book or idea than for being used in standard or usual discourse. In this case, like many others, it also has a certain tint of laziness in that its meaning can be easily conveyed in standard word usage; women's participation in economics. Instead the author goes for building a new catchphrase, womenomics. Bah!
    – Polymath
    May 12, 2014 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


I agree with Polymath in the sense that womenomics does feel more like a phrase used by only a very small number of people and usually only in the context of that original book and its subject. Its durability beyond that book has slumped to, as you say, the verge of non-existence. Technically, it is a neologism, just one that has already run its race and been forgotten.

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    Perhaps then nonce-word is a better category for such one-time, flash-in-the-pan inventions than neologism is, in that the latter implies some degree of currency that the former does not.
    – tchrist
    May 13, 2014 at 2:14
  • Possibly, yes, but if the word is still in use, which it might be in certain circles, then it could be a neologism, just a not very well known one.
    – Mogginson
    May 13, 2014 at 2:18
  • @tcrist. I like 'nonce-word'.
    – user66974
    May 13, 2014 at 4:27

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