Is there a term for the acceptance of a made up term that then became the name of the object/idea/action once it was invented?

Example: Cyberspace. It was first used by William Gibson in his cyberpunk novels, but when actually invented, it now is widely used across the world (or at least across the United States).

Is there a term for this phenomenon?

2 Answers 2


I assume OP is asking about the process of becoming more widely used, not the actual coining of new words/expressions/meanings.

The most common expressions I hear for this process are gaining currency, and perhaps more informally, gaining traction.

There's also gaining acceptance, which I think is less commonly used. Personally I think this applies to a later stage in the process, when a neologism is subject to attacks from linguistic reactionaries seeking to preserve the "pure" language they grew up with.

Thanks to @Optimal Cynic for setting out the various stages in the process... The original coinage is followed by awareness, currency, traction, acceptance, and finally ignorance (people forget or never knew it was once a neologism).

  • How about gaining acceptance? Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:24
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    @Optimal Cynic: Okay I'll add that one too. But to my mind "acceptance" is a later part of the process - I always think of the neologism becoming relatively prevalent first, then battling it out with the die-hards who insist "That's not a word! It's not in my dictionary!". Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:31
  • That's a good point, I agree with that connotation. I'd extend it too - first comes awareness, then currency, then traction, then acceptance, then ignorance (after people forget it's a neologism). Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:33

The term for the newly accepted word is neologism.

  • Thanks. I couldn't think of what to search to find that term. I wonder if "warp drive" would also be a neologism as I know that once a "warp drive" (Aka Alcubierre drive) is invented, everyone is going to call it a warp drive, or warp speed, etc. Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:08
  • neologism refers to the new word, but there isn't really a word for it becoming accepted widely. Perhaps we should coin one... Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:15
  • @Optimal Cynic: That was what I understood OP to be asking for lol Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:26
  • @FumbleFingers: Me too :) Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 18:32
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    @FumbleFingers: It could be that the existence of a referent was really not essential, but it happened to be the situation for 'cyberpunk'. I've noticed similar requests here for words with all sorts of conditions that end up not being needed (sometimes in my own requests?).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 20:57

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