Wordwatch Towers

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with 6 comments

A hundred-year-old closet.
Image via Wikipedia

It appears I am nothing if not seriously behind the times when it comes to neologisms, but just in case you are too, I’ll share my latest — embarrassingly belated — discovery with you: wordrobe.

Being, of course, the place where you store your vocabulary. I know this is not a recently coined word because my research revealed that it was first listed on Word Spy in the late nineties (have I got my finger on the lexicographical pulse).

Word Spy provides a lovely short paragraph on ‘wordrobe’ explaining the original Old French origin of  the word ‘wardrobe’ and somehow ending up with the Indo-European-inspired neologism ‘wordrip’ meaning ‘to plagiarise’.

‘Wordrobe’ is also listed on the Urban Dictionary.

Squeeze it in under that jumper you’ll never wear next to those hideous trousers at the back there. (What were you thinking?)

More neologisms — new words and phrases



Written by Wordwatch

24/06/2010 at 5:30 am

6 Responses

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  1. It’s late, and I’m disinclined to look anything up, but shouldn’t neologisms require some modest acceptance and use before they can be considered as such? Don’t neologisms have to fill a void or address something new to have meaning and usefulness?

    I make up new words all the time, but no one ever adopts them. If a term was born in the ’90s but no one ever uses it, is it anything more than a too-twee trifle?

    Michael Farrell

    24/06/2010 at 7:39 am

    • Oh, you are a harsh taskmaster. I found the word being used in the lastest edition of the BBC science magazine Focus (is that modest acceptance? Oh, who cares). Not everything has to have meaning and usefulness; it’s just a bit of harmless fun, that’s all. To be taken with a pinch of salt, or even better, tea and cream cakes.

      PS. I just looked up ‘neologism’ in the Oxford Dictionary of English and it says ‘the coining or use of new words’. ‘Or’ not ‘and’. The prosecution doesn’t have a leg to stand on.


      24/06/2010 at 8:16 am

      • Then I declare “wordrobe” to be rubbenglish.

        Michael Farrell

        24/06/2010 at 3:13 pm

        • Your ‘too-twee trifle’ phrase made me laugh. I looked up ‘twee’ to find its origin and it’s apparently early 20th century representing a child’s pronunciation of ‘sweet’. Quite appropriate in relation to trifle.


          24/06/2010 at 3:46 pm

  2. There’s also the similarly coined neologism ‘floordrobe’ = the floor (as the receptacle for clean and/or dirty clothes instead of the wardrobe).


    24/06/2010 at 9:00 am

    • Hello, Dai — that’s a good one! Thanks, I’ve not heard it before. I can think of a few cases where it would be very apt.


      24/06/2010 at 9:03 am

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