The Sources Of New Words

Completely new words are very rare – through from time to time some do arise. One example of a word made entirely by artificial processes is the trade name Kodak, a ‘designer’ word consciously using the rare letter k to make it stand out. Another earlier example of a consciously created word is gas. The Flemish chemist J.B. van Helmont coined it in the 17th century, possibly by analogy with the Greek chaos. More recently – in 1907 – the American humorist Gelett Burgess coined the word blurb.
But most new words and senses to emerge in the last century or so have done so by other, more established, methods.
Loaning, for example, continues from an ever-increasing variety of languages. Often you can tell approximately how long a loan has existed in English by its form. As a rule, the more English a word looks and sounds the longer it has been in the language. Warden is older than guardian in English; line than machine. More recent loans from French, within the last 200 years, include nou veau riche and a vant-garde, though hors d’oeuvre entered English as early as 1714.
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