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Creating a new word
What are the criteria to adopt new words into English?

What if I want to use the term supertibi somewhere accompanying superego? We have superego in dictionaries all over the world, but supertibi is a new term morphologically based on the same components (super = great, tibi = you, ego = I) and it is not used anywhere. How can we coin new terms? Is there a formulated procedure?

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    If you're a US citizen, the process of coining a word is pretty simple. The author (you in this case) submits a form (BV-199 or BV-199A for multi-word phrases) to the Bureau of Vocabulary (part of the US Department of Commerce) in Reston, VA. They'll issue a 24-month Certificate of Temporary Coinage. During that period, the public can comment on your proposed word and at the end, the Vocabulary Board will vote on it. If your proposal receives a 2/3 vote of the board, it automatically becomes a word and is included in the dictionary; if there is only a simple majority, there's a (cont) Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 19:49
  • (cont...) 15-month review period, followed by another, final vote. For citizens of the UK and Commonwealth countries, applications are made to HM English Academy in London and the time periods are longer (3 years minimum, I believe) and there's a £100 application fee. There are lawyers who specialize in this kind of thing. Contact your local Bar association for a referral. If you're serious about coining a new word, I urge you to read this first. Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


The process, unless the word is coined within some official context such as law or medicine, is usually very organic; a word is simply used in a place for the first time, and others who think it's a good word will pick it up and use it themselves. The word will thus start to be used in a very localized manner (either geographically or in a particular field of interest, or both), and become more common at a rate determined by the exposure of that word to other geographic areas or larger sections of the public. Words made popular in mass media generally get picked up very quickly, while technical terms and "jargon" usually never stray out of their home field of interest.

So to answer your question, just start using it. Your peers will either encourage or discourage the use of your proposed word, and it'll go from there.

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