A Lexicon of Neologisms.   Mikhail Epstein


The largest online collection of one author's English neologisms  (about 120 entries)



PreDictionary n  (pre, from Lat. prae, before + dictionary; or: predict + suffixes -ion and -ary) - a projective dictionary that does not register words already in use but "predicts" new words and introduces them for the first time.


Almost all dictionaries, even those that contain neologisms, are reactive: they reflect various foregone stages in the development of language. A PreDictionary, on the contrary, is a proactive dictionary: it contributes new words  that  may make their way into the dictionaries of the future.


This Predictionary is a collection of words that have been coined since the early 1980s. The project has a tripartite agenda--analytic, aesthetic, and pragmatic. 


1. Analytically, PreDictionary searches for blank spaces and semantic voids in the lexical-conceptual systems of languages in order to fill them with new words designating would-be phenomena and nascent ideas for which no semantic markers currently exist.


2. Aesthetically, PreDictionary aims to create new words as miniature works of verbal art, micropoems, lexipoems.  Filled with lyrical or dramatic intrigue, such  newly minted linguistic coins can open  fresh avenues for expressiveness by provocatively juxtaposing the formative lexical elements of existing words.


3. Pragmatically, PreDictionary seeks to introduce new words into the language by providing examples of their usage in various styles of oral and written speech. Each word is defined and illustrated in such a way as to demonstrate its communicative value and the range of its possible applications in typical situations and discourses.


It is my hope that most words in this experimental lexicon will achieve the first task, and that at least some will begin to approach the second goal. The third goal may be unattainable.  Still, with hope once again triumphing over experience, I set out to achieve the unachievable.  Or as Fyodor Tyutchev, 19th century Russian poet, put it:


        It is beyond our power to fathom

        Which way the word we utter resonates,

        Thus, like a sudden grace that comes upon us,

                           A gift of empathetic understanding emanates.


                                                *        *        *


The Predictionary has 15 thematic rubrics.  The new words are arranged alphabetically within them.


                Introduction.  Lexicopoeia as a Literary Genre



Everyday Life

People. Characters

Relationships. Communication

Psychology. Emotions

Life. Health. Death

Love. Sex

Mind. Knowledge


Religion. Beliefs



Internet. Informational Technology

Language. Textuality

           Grammatical Words (pronouns, conjunctions…)




…Amazing collection of coinages. Much more impressive than the pop proposals of Faith Popcorn [1]. And what a wonderful word is "predictionary"!


          Prof. Allan Metcalf, author of Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success. Boston,  New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 


   [1] Faith Popcorn and Adam Hanft. Dictionary of the Future. The words, terms and trends that define the way we'll live, work and talk. New York: Hyperion, 2001.



Copyright © Mikhail Epstein 2000-2003


Mikhail Epstein is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor

of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature

at Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

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