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

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    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, StudySmarterFig. 1 - New words are added to the dictionary.

    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, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Clipping words is like clipping hair; both the words and the hair get shorter!

    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
















    Clipping can also be done with names, for example:

    Long form

    Short form











    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:


    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. This 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.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Clipping

    What is clipping?

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

    What are examples of clipping?

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

    How are clipped words formed?

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

    What are the types of clipping in English?

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

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    True or false?Clipped words are considered to be more formal than longer words.

    Clipped words are often _____ to pronounce than longer words.

    True or false?Clipped words can only be used in spoken language.


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    Team English Teachers

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    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
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