A lexicographical approach to neologisms created through blending


  • Yongwei Gao Fudan University




neologism, blending, word-formation, English dictionaries


Blending has long been regarded as an unproductive word-formation process. “Portmanteau”, a word formed through blending, can be traced back to Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-glass, published in 1871, but the earliest words created this way were found to be in use in the late Middle English period and many of them did not survive. The number of blends failed to experience any apparent increase in the several centuries that ensued. Since the beginning of the 20th century, blending has been playing an ever-increasing role in forming neologisms. Simonini (1966) found that blend words comprised approximately 3% of new English words. Algeo’s (1991) research into neologisms revealed that about 5% of the words were blends. Among the 1,186 new words analyzed by Cook and Stevenson (2010), around 43% were blends. The growing number of new blends in the English vocabulary means the inclusion of more such words in English dictionaries. In the recent updates of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), neologisms such as shockvertising, sharenting, Xennial, and staycation are formed through blending. This paper intends to make a thorough research into new blends recorded not only in monolingual English dictionaries such as the OED, Collins English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary but also in bilingual dictionaries such as An English-Chinese Dictionary of Neologisms in Present-day English and A Dictionary of Blends in Contemporary English. The blends found therein will be classified, and the deficiencies in the coverage of blends in dictionaries like the OED will be discussed in detail.

Author Biography

  • Yongwei Gao, Fudan University

    Yongwei Gao holds MA and PhD degrees in English language and literature from Fudan University, Shanghai, China. He has been teaching at Fudan University for more than 20 years. His research interests cover bilingual lexicography, historical lexicography, lexicology, terminology, and translation. He has published more than a dozen English–Chinese dictionaries.


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Gao, Y. W. (2023b). An English–Chinese Dictionary of Neologisms in Present-Day English. Beijing: Foreign Language Research and Teaching Press.

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How to Cite

Gao, Y. (2023). A lexicographical approach to neologisms created through blending. Lexicography, 10(2), 161-172. https://doi.org/10.1558/lexi.26356