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English

Have you ever wondered how new words are created in English? Today you will be learning about one way of doing that!

This topic is about neologism, which refers to the coining of a new word. Lots of neologisms are commonly used and recognised in the English language. Today, we will be focusing on clipping. We will explain what clipping means, and give some examples. We will also look at why we clip words and the differences between clipping and abbreviations. As you read through the following article, consider how many clipped words you already know!

Clipping, girl reading dictionary, StudySmarter

Girl reading a dictionary, pixabay.com

Before we dive in, let’s begin by looking at how new words are made.

What are different types of neologisms?

There are lots of different ways to create new words. Here are some of them:

  1. Derivation - adding prefixes or suffixes to existing words.

  2. Back-formation - the opposite of derivation; removing a prefix or suffix from an existing word.

  3. Compounding - two existing words that are either hyphenated or formed into one word.

  4. Repurposing - taking a word from one context and putting it into another.

  5. Conversion - taking a word that is in a particular word class and using it as another word class.

  6. Eponyms - words that are named after places or people.

  7. Loanwords - words that are borrowed from other languages.

  8. Onomatopoeia - words that are created by imitating a sound.

  9. Reduplication - words or sounds in words that are repeated (either fully or partially).

  10. Occasionalism - words that are invented for a particular occasion for which there is no existing word.

  11. Error - words that are created as a result of misspellings or mispronunciations.

  12. Blends - taking parts of two different words and putting them together to form a single word.

  13. Abbreviations - shortening longer words.

And finally, the focus of this article: Clipping (also known as truncation).

What is clipping?

In the English language, clipping refers to shortening an existing word. This is done by removing part of a longer word, usually by cutting it down to a single syllable, to make a new word.

Imagine a hairdresser takes clippers to a person’s hair and cuts some off to shorten it. Clipping is like that, just with words!

clipping, person getting haircut, StudySmarterPerson getting a haircut, pixabay.com

It is important to note that, unlike some other ways of forming new words, clipping a word does not change its meaning.

What are the different types of clipping?

There are two main types of clipping. These are:

Initial clipping (also known as apheresis) which refers to removing the first syllable(s) to create a clipped word.

Final clipping (also known as apocope) which refers to removing the last syllable(s) to create a clipped word.

What are some examples of clipping?

Below are some examples of clipped words, along with the words they came from:

Existing word

Clipped word

Type of clipping

Telephone

Phone

Initial

Mathematics

Maths

Final

Photograph

Photo

Final

Aeroplane

Plane

Initial

University

Uni

Final
RobotBotInitial

Clipping can also be done with names, for example:

Long form

Short form

Elizabeth

Liz

Robert

Rob

Charlotte

Charlie

Isabella

Bella

Christopher

Chris

Why do we clip words?

We clip words for a variety of reasons, some of which are discussed below:

Change formality of spoken language

Most clipped words are more informal than the longer existing words, so they are often used in more casual conversations, usually among familiar people. For example:

In a conversation between siblings, they may refer to each other as ‘bro’ or ‘sis’, which are the clipped versions of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’. However, if they were to introduce each other to someone unfamiliar, they would probably say, 'This is my brother/sister.'

Change formality of written language

As well as being used in informal speech, they are also used in informal writing. For example:

You could text a friend, 'I just finished my English exam.' This would be more casual than 'I just finished my English examination.' The word ‘examination’ would usually be reserved for more formal writing, such as official documents in institutions.

Simplicity and efficiency

This may be quite a simple reason, but it is true! Clipped words are easier to pronounce and quicker to say, leading to more efficient conversations that are easier to understand and convey a point faster. They are also easier to spell and faster to write, leading to faster-written communication and responses.

How does clipping differ from abbreviations?

Although both clipping and abbreviations create words that are shorter than the original words, there are a couple of differences between them. Let’s begin by exploring the definition of abbreviation:

Abbreviation

The abbreviation refers to the shortening of the length of a word. For example, Doctor can be shortened to Dr., and Junior can be shortened to Jr. These shortened words are mainly used in written language, and not spoken language. For example, when writing ‘Dr.’ or ‘Jr.’, you would still pronounce them as ‘Doctor’ and ‘Junior’ in speech. Some abbreviations end with full stops, but they are not always needed.

There are also other types of abbreviations, such as:

  • Acronyms - The initial letters of different words or phrases are taken to form a word that is pronounced as a single unit; e.g. UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) or PIN (Personal Identification Number).

  • Initialisms - The initial letters of different words or phrases are taken to form initials that are pronounced individually; e.g. IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) or USB (Universal Serial Bus).

  • Contractions - Some letters or sounds are omitted from words, usually shown with an apostrophe; e.g. cannot → can’t, have not → haven’t.

On the other hand, clipping is the removal of part of an existing word to create a new, shorter word with the same meaning. It is used in both written and spoken language; the written form does not differ from the spoken form.

Can you think of any examples of clipping that have not been previously mentioned?

Clipping - Key takeaways

  • Clipping refers to the shortening of an existing word.
  • Clipping is done by removing part of a longer word and creating a new word, usually a single syllable.
  • Clipping does not change the meaning of the word.
  • There are two types of clipping: final clipping (apocope) and initial clipping (apheresis).
  • Clipping is used in both written and spoken language. This is different from abbreviations, which are used mostly in writing.
  • We use clipped words to change the formality of spoken and written language and for simpler and more efficient communication.

Clipping

Clipping refers to removing part of an existing word to create a new, shorter word with the same meaning.

An example of clipping is the word 'info', created from 'information.'

Clipped words can be formed by either removing the initial or final syllable(s) of a word.

The types of clipping are: initial (apheresis) and final (apocope).

Final Clipping Quiz

Question

What are the types of clipping?

Show answer

Answer

Initial and final 

Show question

Question

What is clipping?

Show answer

Answer

Removing part of a longer word, usually cutting it down to a single syllable, to make a new, shorter word.

Show question

Question

True or false?


Clipped words can only be used in spoken language.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

What is the clipped form of aeroplane?

Show answer

Answer

Plane

Show question

Question

What is the clipped form of photograph?

Show answer

Answer

Photo

Show question

Question

What is the longer form of teen?

Show answer

Answer

Teenager

Show question

Question

What is the longer form of dorm?

Show answer

Answer

Dormitory

Show question

Question

True or false?


Clipped words are considered to be more formal than longer words.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Clipped words are often _____ to pronounce than longer words.

Show answer

Answer

easier

Show question

Question

The clipped form of application is app. What type of clipping is this?

Show answer

Answer

Final clipping

Show question

Question

The clipped form of hamburger is burger. What type of clipping is this?

Show answer

Answer

Initial clipping

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


Clipping is a type of _______.

Show answer

Answer

neologism

Show question

Question

Clipping is also known as what?

Show answer

Answer

Truncation

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


Clipping refers to ____________ an existing word.

Show answer

Answer

shortening

Show question

Question

True or false?


Clipping is done by removing part of a longer word to make a new word.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Fill in the blank:


Neologism refers to the _______ of a new word.

Show answer

Answer

coining

Show question

Question

What is the longer form of the name Chris?

Show answer

Answer

Christopher

Show question

Question

What is the clipped form of the name Isabella?

Show answer

Answer

Bella

Show question

Question

True or false?


Clipping can never be done with people's names.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

We can clip words to change the ________ of language.

Show answer

Answer

formality

Show question

Question

True or false?


Abbreviations are the same as clipping.

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

Question

Which type of clipping involves removing the first syllable(s) to create a clipped word?

Show answer

Answer

Initial clipping

Show question

Question

Which type of clipping involves removing the last syllable(s) to create a clipped word?

Show answer

Answer

Final clipping

Show question

Question

Initial clipping is also known as what?

Show answer

Answer

Apheresis

Show question

Question

Final clipping is also known as what?

Show answer

Answer

Apocope

Show question

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