World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Nonce word

Article Id: WHEBN0000622159
Reproduction Date:

Title: Nonce word  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Articles for deletion/Sesquipedalianism, Reference desk/Archives/Language/2011 October 17, Misotheism, Pompatus, Pronunciation respelling
Collection: Nonce Words, Types of Words, Word Coinage
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Nonce word

A nonce word (also called an occasionalism) is a lexeme created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication.[1][2] The term is used because such a word is created "for the nonce".[3] All nonce words are also neologisms.[4] Some nonce words have a meaning and may become an established part of the language, while others are essentially meaningless and disposable and are useful for exactly that reason, for instance in child language testing. The term nonce word was apparently the creation of James Murray, the influential editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.


  • In advertising and literature 1
  • In child development studies 2
  • Other examples 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

In advertising and literature

Nonce words are often created as part of advertising campaigns or in fiction. A poem by Seamus Heaney entitled "Nonce Words" is included in his collection District and Circle.

In child development studies

Nonce words are sometimes used to study the development of language in children because they allow researchers to test how children treat words of which they have no prior knowledge. This permits inferences about the default assumptions children make about new word meanings, syntactic structure, etc. Frequently used such words include "wug", "blicket", and "dax". Wug is among the earliest known nonce words used in language learning studies, and is best known for its use in Jean Berko's "Wug test", in which children were presented with a novel object, called a wug, and then shown multiple instances of the object and asked to complete a sentence that elicits a plural form—e.g., "This is a wug. Now there are two of them. There are two...?" The use of the plural form "wugs" by the child suggests that they have applied a plural rule to the form, and that this knowledge is not specific to prior experience with the word but applies to all nouns, whether familiar or novel.

Examples of nonce words previously used in child developmental studies include: wug, blicket, dax, toma, pimwit, zav, speff, tulver, gazzer, fem, fendle, and tupa.

Other examples

Other examples of nonce words include

See also


  1. ^ Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Nonce Word 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b The Cambridge Encyclopedia of The English Language. Ed. David Crystal. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. p. 132. ISBN 0521401798
  3. ^ Crystal, 1995, p. 455.
  4. ^ Malmkjaer, Kirsten. (Ed.) (2006) The Linguistics Encyclopedia. eBook edition. London & New York: Routledge, p. 601. ISBN 0-203-43286-X

External links

  • On Words and Upwards! - A collection of humorous nonce words.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.