Is there a good word for an idea that someone came up with on their own? I'm talking about an original idea. The reason I want such a word is for my notes so that I can annotate, with as few words as possible, whether I reached an idea on my own or whether I used someone else's. I prefer a formal term over informal.

  • What is wrong with "original idea"? Oct 28, 2014 at 14:33
  • @MattЭллен Nothing. I just want to know if there is a single word I can use that conveys the same message.
    – Alex W
    Oct 28, 2014 at 14:36
  • @Matt: The only thing wrong with that is that there is no such thing.
    – Robusto
    Oct 28, 2014 at 16:31
  • The choice might be guided by context. I can envision situations where setting “invention” contrary to “collaboration” (or perhaps “addendum”) would be sufficiently clear. Oct 28, 2014 at 21:11

4 Answers 4


You can consider brainchild. It is an informal word.

An idea or invention considered to be a particular person’s creation:

the statue is the brainchild of a local landscape artist


An original idea or plan attributed to a person or group.


You can consider inspiration as a more formal word.

a product of your creative thinking and work; "he had little respect for the inspirations of other artists"

Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.


  • Except for it being informal, I think this is almost exactly the type of word I'm looking for.
    – Alex W
    Oct 28, 2014 at 15:16
  • @AlexW: Updated my answer with a more formal word.
    – ermanen
    Oct 28, 2014 at 15:26
  • I don’t think of “brainchild” as informal. Oct 28, 2014 at 21:01

How about epiphany [Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary]:

  1. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into reality or the essential meaning of something, often initiated by some simple, commonplace occurrence.
  2. a literary work or section of a work presenting such a moment of revelation and insight.

Probably a brainstorm:

  • a sudden inspiration or idea.

  • A sudden clever plan or idea.

for a more formal but less common term, intellection:

  • mental activity; thought
  • an idea or thought
  • notebooks filled with his intellections on an amazing array of topics.
  • Thanks for your answer. I do think that works, but I don't like how it is an informal definition. I've edited my question to ask for formality.
    – Alex W
    Oct 28, 2014 at 14:51

Two words come to mind, namely: {Inventive or contrivance}. The latter is defined as "Act or faculty of contriving; maneuvering; invention or inventive ability." Inventive is compared to 'original'.

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