A neologism is a newly coined word. Is there a term for a new English-language word coined by people in another country for whom English is a foreign language? While visiting China a few years ago, some Chinese friends introduced me to their new word -- gelivable. At first I thought they were mispronouncing or mangling believable, but they explained that it was a word for saying that something was sufficient or enough or adequate. A bit of research reveals that the word is formed from a Chinese word, geili. http://www.china.org.cn/china/2010-11/12/content_21327924.htm

I see the word described as a Net buzzword. A Google Ngram Viewer search yielded zero hits.

My question is: what terminology is used for this kind of formation of an English (or at least English-sounding) word that seems to be used primarily, if not exclusively by people whose first language is not English?

  • I edited your posting just now so that it explicitly states that you had already been living in China for several years by the time your Chinese friends introduced you to gelivable. If this isn't what you meant, please feel free to amend my edit as necessary. – Erik Kowal May 26 '14 at 3:42
  • Ngram is only going to show material from books, no? – Mou某 May 26 '14 at 11:41
  • @ Erik Kowal, actually I was only there for a short visit. – GMB May 26 '14 at 12:58

Such words are known as loanwords. In the case of 'gelivable', the loanword is an anglicism (because it is patterned on English morphology).


There isn't a good term for these words in general, but there are a number for words from speaks of a specific foreign language:

  • Wasei-eigo (home-made English) for Japanese neologisms coined from English words.
  • Denglish for German-origin (Deutsch) neologisms.
  • Franglais for French-origin neologisms.

Sometimes the umbrella term Engrish or Engrishisms is used for these foreign neologisms, especially ones originating from Northwest Asia, but this is borderline offensive and I wouldn't recommend it.

  • Franglais typically refers not to a word that is introduced into English from French, but an English word (or a word derived from an English word) that is introduced into French. "Apres-ski" is not Franglais; "weekend" is franglais. – Drew May 26 '14 at 14:56
  • By "French-origin neologisms" I mean "French neologisms coined from English words." – Tatpurusha May 26 '14 at 14:57

A paronymous neologism may suffice, though I've never actually heard the term used:


2a) formed from a word in another language

2b) having a form similar to that of a cognate foreign word

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