a newly coined word or phrase defined in the hope that it will become common

A protologism is a brand new word.[1] Most people don't know about the word after its creation.[2] Only a tiny group of people have ever used the word.[3] Sometimes the coiner is the only person who has ever used the word.[4] Sometimes people create protologisms because of a gap in the language.[5]


  1. Humez, Alexander; Humez, Nicholas; Flynn, Rob (3 August 2010). Short Cuts: A Guide to Oaths, Ring Tones, Ransom Notes, Famous Last Words, and Other Forms of Minimalist Communication. Oxford University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-19-538913-5. One such neologism is the Wiktionary's protologism, a term invented by Mikhail Epstein of Emory University to refer to a newly created and proposed word which has not yet gained acceptance.
  2. Moore, Andrew (January 2011). "The hypothesis' ambassador". BioEssays. 33 (1): 1. doi:10.1002/bies.201090064. Recognising the preliminary (or even want-to-be) nature of many neologisms, Mikhail N. Epstein the American literary theorist and thinker coined his own: ‘protologism’, which refers to a neologism that has not yet been accepted as a useful or substantiated addition to the vocabulary.
  3. Gryniuk, D. (2015). "On Institutionalization and De-Institutionalization of Late 1990s Neologisms". In Malec, W.; Rusinek, M. (eds.). Within Language, Beyond Theories (Volume III): Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics and Corpus-based Studies. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 150. ISBN 1-4438-7822-7. This process [of lexicalization] does not seem to be coincidental because neologisms themselves are prone to go through certain stages of transformation. They begin as unstable creations (otherwise called protologisms), that is, they are extremely new, being proposed, or being used only by a small subculture. Unknown parameter |chapterurl= ignored (help)
  4. Aitken, James K. (2013). "Neologisms: A Septuagint Problem". In Aitken, J.K.; Clines, J.M.S.; Maier, C.M. (eds.). Interested Readers: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David J. A. Clines. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature. p. 316. ISBN 978-1-58983-926-7. Most of Carroll's words were not adopted into the language, but nonetheless, such literary invention will be familiar to anyone reading academic writers, where terms are created for conveying particular innovative concepts. Linguists even have a word for such terms, protologisms (itself a modern neologism), a word that is new and not yet established beyond a small group. Unknown parameter |chapterurl= ignored (help)
  5. Eismann, Wolfgang (2015). "Individual initiatives and concepts for expanding the lexicon in Russian". In Müller, Peter O.; et al. (eds.). Word-Formation: An International Handbook of the Languages of Europe: Volume 3. Berlin, Germany; Boston, USA: Walter de Gruyter. p. 1756. ISBN 978-3-11-037566-4. Ėpštejn's projective dictionary should be a collection of protologisms, a protologism being a new word, coined to designate a new phenomenon or to fill in blank spaces and semantic voids in the lexical-conceptual system, as he proclaimed in 2003.