I am an aspiring novelist, and there's this "science fiction & fantasy" story I am working on, wherein I have coined some new words here and there.

I am sending this question to the proficient wordsmiths in the stackosphere, and beseech them to yield a proper way, say a literary technique, to introduce a brand new word without offending the multitudinous readers and publishers who maybe inclined to consider a word not included in Oxford Dictionary a heresy.


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    Have you read the Harry Potter books? Do you think all the words are in the OED? May 23, 2014 at 6:02
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    Take an established Latin or Greek root, and add relevant affixes to them. This is especially useful for science fiction. One example is the term xenomorph used in the Alien movies to refer to the alien; it is a combination of the Greek xeno- (meaning foreign) and -morph (meaning form or manifestation). May 23, 2014 at 6:23
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    @Mari-LouA That was a well-researched and good argument you gave for the issue of "forty winks". I was looking exactly for such citations to my answer, especially for the proper way to introduce a new word, and not really about whether it's inappropriate. Anyways, I get your point. And, yes, RyeBread's answer is helpful.
    – Calypto
    May 23, 2014 at 7:24
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    Ask the "multitudinous readers and publishers" if they ever heard of "Shakespeare."
    – Kris
    May 23, 2014 at 8:19
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    I read through the help section, as suggested by @medica, and the site requires questions that can have conclusive answers; I guess that these kinds of question tends to provoke drawn-out debates. If you want, you could ask specifically how new words are added to the dictionary or otherwise become accepted (I still don't know if this would meet the moderators' criteria for the Q&A format, and you might have lost interest in defending your question at this point.) May 23, 2014 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick didn't think so, and indeed did so. My favorite is Dick's rather psychic neologism: homeopape

In a corner of the large room a chime sounded and a tinkling mechanical voice called, "I'm your free homeopape machine, a service supplied exclusively by all the fine Rootes hotels throughout Earth and the colonies. Simply dial the classification of news that you wish, and in a matter of seconds I'll speedily provide you with a fresh, up-to-the-minute homeopape tailored to your individual requirements; and, let me repeat, at no cost to you!"

  • Your example of homeopape is helpful. From it, I gather that if I were to conceive and insert a new word in my story, I will have to define this new word right after mentioning it. Now that's a literary technique I wanted to know about, besides the "root and affix" technique as provided in the comment section by @TheodoreBroda. Thanks.
    – Calypto
    May 23, 2014 at 15:52

The history of English literature is bestrewn with neologizers. As well as the above-mentioned Shakespeare, other similarly inclined writers of note have included Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Anthony Burgess, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, George Orwell and Charles Dickens; and there have been countless others besides. Scientists and technologists too are always creating new words as their fields of activity expand. (Not to mention the social scientists, economists and politicians.)

The upshot is that you should certainly not hesitate to invent new words if they fit a particular need. (Make them good ones!)

In addition to the technical process of generating a new word, there is the question of how to goose its popularity. For this I would suggest making use of your social network connections as and when the publication date draws near. If you can scare up some curiosity about the words your immediate contacts may encounter in your new book, they are more likely to buy the product of your labours.

  • Excellent (and extensive) examples! I do particularly appreciate Milton's pandemonium and Orwell's newspeak; quite useful, if you ask me. Also of note, some words were derived from the works of these great writers, but were not directly coined by them; the characteristic expressions of Dicken's character "Sam Weller" were so witty, English speakers quickly created the word wellerism, which came about only a couple years after the Pickwick Papers. May 23, 2014 at 16:03

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