Made-up word

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A made-up word is a word that has not been formed using the natural means of word formation in one language , nor is it borrowed from another language. It forms a new root and is often sound symbolic. Newly formed made-up words are considered neologisms for a while .

In rhymes and verses, one often encounters artificial words that work through assonance or alliteration , such as in the counting rhymeEne mene mu , and you're out of it”.

Educational pattern

The most common formation patterns for artificial words are: contraction, composition of word beginnings, abbreviation and unusual combination of graphemes .


With these artificial words, two or more words are pulled together to form a new word ("fused", "amalgamated"), whereby overlapping parts are omitted. There are different names for this, e.g. B. box word, contraction, fusion word, mixed word, intersection word, port [e] manteau word.


Composition of word beginnings

These artificial words are related to the syllable abbreviations :


  • Modem consisting of modulator and demodulator
  • Moped from motor and pedal
  • Chipitts from Chicago and Pittsburgh
  • Haribo from Hans Riegel Bonn
  • Milka made from milk and cocoa
  • Lego from leg godt (Danish for "play well")


Especially those abbreviations that can be pronounced like a word ( acronym ) can be regarded as artificial words.


Unusual grapheme combinations


  • sitt (as the opposite of thirsty) from full
  • texting - send a text message from SMS

Problems of demarcation

It is not always easy to distinguish made-up words from other words.

With the following words

  • Airbag from the English words air (air) and bag (bag, sack, bag)
  • Weblog from the English words web (net, here meant the WWW ) and log (protocol)

it is more likely to be borrowings of artificial words that were formed in English. They can therefore be classified as loans. Mobile phone, on the other hand, is likely to be an artificial word, as there is no corresponding lexical symbol in English. There is also no corresponding lexical sign in English for the word bullying , but it could be a borrowing from a Scandinavian language.

It is also not easy to decide or determine whether or not contraction is a natural means of word formation, since the term 'natural' is not clearly defined in this context.

Made-up word and neologism

Not all made-up words are neologisms . A lexical mark is only considered a neologism for a while. As they become more widespread and longer in use, they become an established part of the general vocabulary.

The pragmatic value of artificial words

The contractions in particular serve a linguistic economic purpose, complex expressions are reduced to shorter ones. This is particularly useful for technical innovations, for example in the word emoticon , which was formed from the two English words emotion and icon and denotes the smileys and the like that are frequently used on the Internet and with SMS . Using the made-up word saves having to laboriously rewrite things for which there is no name yet.

In addition, newly formed made-up words often signal modernity and originality. For these reasons, they are often coined in advertising language. Here, scientific-sounding artificial words are often intended to improve the impression of the product on potential customers (example: active oxygen ).

Another aspect is internationalization: Brand names must arouse positive associations and must not have any ambiguous or counterproductive meaning in an international context. Here Art Words offer the possibility blunders such as the Pajero from Mitsubishi to avoid. Specialized agencies develop new words that are developed from existing words or parts of words, but should themselves be explicitly meaningless , so-called logatoms (such as the newer type designations of the car manufacturer Opel or the name Thalys ).


  • Basic features of the morphology of German. Elsen, Hilke 2014. 2nd edition. Berlin / Boston, ISBN 978-3110358933 .
  • Lexicology I , units with word-like status. Sornig, Karl 2002. Cruse et al. Berlin / New York, pp. 461-463.
  • Morphology I. Creative processes. Baldi, Philip, Dawar, Chantal 2000. Booij et al. Berlin / New York, pp. 963-972.

Web links

Wiktionary: Made-up word  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations