protologism n Greek protos, first, original + Greek logos, word; cf. prototype, neologism - a newly created word which has not yet gained any wide acceptance. It is a prototype or a hypothetical projection of a new lexical unit before it may become current in writing or speech. The word "protologism" proposed here and now is itself an example of protologism.
In contrast to protologisms, neologisms are words that have already been in public usage by authors other than their inventors. As soon as a protologism finds its way into newspapers and websites, journals and books, it becomes a neologism.
by Mikhail Epstein November 6, 2003
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