Tagalog Neologisms

Tagalog, the heart of the Filipino language, increasingly incorporates neologisms, reflecting the nation's journey from tradition to modernity. These new words, rooted in local and foreign influences, showcase linguistic adaptation—borrowed terms, blends, acronyms, semantic shifts, and onomatopoeia, all enriching communication and cultural identity. Despite challenges of language purity and regional acceptance, they emphasize the evolving Filipino spirit.
Tagalog Neologisms
Tagalog Neologisms

Languages are like living organisms, constantly evolving and adapting to their speakers’ changing needs and influences. In the Philippines, Tagalog, the linguistic heart of the nation, has undergone a fascinating transformation, giving birth to a myriad of neologisms. These fresh and inventive words capture the essence of contemporary life and culture in the Philippines. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey through the world of Tagalog/Filipino neologisms, exploring their origins, evolution, and role in shaping the dynamic linguistic landscape of the country.

A Glimpse into History

Tagalog Neologisms
Tagalog Neologisms

The Philippines’ linguistic history is a tapestry woven with indigenous languages, Malay traders, Spanish colonizers, and American overseers. Amidst this intricate backdrop, Tagalog emerged as the foundation for the national language, Filipino. As the Philippines raced towards modernity and globalization, the need arose for novel words to describe emerging concepts and technologies, giving rise to the enchanting world of neologisms.

The Dance of Language

Tagalog Neologisms

Neologisms are the lifeblood of a language. They infuse it with vitality and allow it to stay current in a world that is constantly evolving. In the context of Tagalog and Filipino, neologisms serve as bridges between tradition and modernity, ensuring that these languages can faithfully express the thoughts and ideas of their speakers.

Unraveling the Origins

Tagalog/Filipino neologisms are tapestries woven from various threads, each with its unique origin:

1. Borrowed Words:

A significant chunk of neologisms is borrowed from English. This reflects the Philippines’ historical ties with the United States and the widespread use of English in education and media. Take “kompyuter” (computer) or “Internet” for example, seamlessly integrated into everyday Filipino discourse.

2. Blends:

Some neologisms are linguistic alchemists, concocted by blending two or more existing words to create something entirely new. “Textmate” is a delightful example, fusing “text” (from texting) and “mate” (meaning companion) to describe someone with whom you exchange text messages.

3. Acronyms and Initialisms:

Filipinos have an affinity for acronyms and initialisms. “OFW” (Overseas Filipino Worker) and “NCR” (National Capital Region) are examples of these linguistic shortcuts.

4. Semantic Shifts:

Occasionally, words undergo a metamorphosis in meaning to accommodate new concepts. “Salumpuwit,” which originally meant “chair” (literally “catch the buttocks”), has evolved to refer to someone who frequently sits down on the job or avoids work.

5. Onomatopoeia:

Some neologisms are playful onomatopoeias, mimicking the sound associated with a particular concept or object. “Tokhang” is a controversial case, coined to represent the sound of police knocking on doors during anti-drug operations.

6. Portmanteau Words:

Portmanteau words seamlessly blend the essence of two or more words into a single, harmonious creation. “Jeepney” is a beloved example, birthed from the marriage of “jeep” and “jitney,” describing the iconic public transportation vehicles of the Philippines.

A Glance at Tagalog/Filipino Neologisms

  1. Kilay (Eyebrows) – From the English “eyebrow,” “kilay” now perfectly captures the essence of the hair above one’s eye.
  2. Selfie – This borrowed word from English has become a household term for a self-portrait photograph taken with a smartphone or camera.
  3. Bilog (Traffic Circle) – “Bilog” simplifies the description of a roundabout or traffic circle, making urban navigation a breeze.
  4. Presyong Divisoria (Affordable Price) – This creative term blends “presyo” (price) with “Divisoria,” the famous commercial district in Manila known for its bargain prices.
  5. Bromance – Borrowed from English, “bromance” affectionately describes the close, non-sexual friendship between two men.
  6. Kontrobersyal (Controversial) – A delightful blend of “kontrobersiya” (controversy) and “malupit” (strong or intense) encapsulates something intensely contentious.
  7. Plastik (Fake) – “Plastik,” derived from “plastic,” is the go-to term for someone who is insincere or hypocritical.

The Ripple Effects

Tagalog/Filipino neologisms are not mere linguistic curiosities; they wield considerable influence and significance:

  1. Cultural Identity: Neologisms encapsulate the unique cultural identity of the Philippines. They distill local customs, beliefs, and traditions into linguistic gems that reflect the Filipino way of life.
  2. Effective Communication: These linguistic marvels enhance communication by offering concise and relevant terms for emerging ideas. They grease the wheels of discourse on technology, pop culture, and societal issues.
  3. Language Preservation: While English continues to wield influence, neologisms help preserve the vivacity of Tagalog/Filipino. They ensure that the language remains relevant and capable of expressing modern ideas while retaining its distinct essence.
  4. Social Commentary: Neologisms often serve as mirrors to society, reflecting its challenges and changes. They provide a linguistic prism through which to view contemporary issues, offering insights and commentary.

Navigating the Linguistic Rapids

Creating and adopting neologisms is not a smooth voyage; it’s fraught with challenges and controversies:

  1. Language Purity: Critics argue that excessive borrowing, especially from English, dilutes the purity of Tagalog/Filipino. They fear that it may lead to the erosion of indigenous words and cultural identity.
  2. Resistance to Change: Traditionalists may resist embracing neologisms, preferring established terms or foreign words. This resistance can delay the integration of new words into the language.
  3. Regional Quirks: Neologisms can vary across regions, leading to misunderstandings or miscommunications among speakers from different parts of the Philippines.


The world of Tagalog/Filipino neologisms is a vibrant playground where language and innovation meet. These linguistic gems breathe life into Tagalog and Filipino, enabling them to thrive in a dynamic, ever-changing world. Amidst controversies and challenges, neologisms are the colorful threads that weave the tapestry of Filipino culture and identity. As the Philippines hurtles forward into an exciting future, so too will its language continue to evolve, driven by the ingenious creation of new words and expressions. The journey of Tagalog/Filipino neologisms is not just linguistic; it’s a vibrant reflection of the Filipino spirit—a spirit that thrives on adaptation, creativity, and the inexhaustible desire to tell its story in ever-evolving words.

Examples of Tagalog Neologisms

Adlaw – Day
Agamahan – Religion
Agbarog – Architect

Agbarugan – Architecture
Aghambuhay – Biology
Aghimo – Technique
Aghimuan – Technology
Aghimuin – Technical
Agimatan – Economics

Agsikap – Engineer
Agsikapan – Engineering
Alaman – Epistemology
Ariangaw – Millionaire
Awts Gege – Ouch, Sige
Bagunsakupin – Neocolonial

Balindas – Cathode
Baling – Inclining the head to one side
Balipik – Cation
Balnibalngawsipatan – Magnetospectroscopy
Balnibulog – Magnetosphere
Banwa – Town

Barikod – Comet
Basisig – Centrifugal Force
Bathalaan – Theology
Batnayan – Philosophy
Bikat – Scar on the Face
Biluslawas – lysosome

Binhay – Germ
Bulalato – Meteorite
Bulan – Moon
Bumbong – Cylindral Container
Busilig – White of the Eye

Butudkaphay – Nucleoplasm
Butudkilos – Karyokinesis
Dagindas – Electrode
Dagitigilan – Electrostatics
Dagsin – Gravity
Dahilig – to Lean

Dalub-Agimat – Economist
Dalub-Ibon – Ornithologist
Dalub-Isda – Ichthyologist
Dalubbanwa – Political Scientist
Dalub-Isdaan – Ichthyology
Dalub-Isip – Psychology

Dalub-Isipan – Psychology
Dalubbanwahan – Political Science
Dalubguro – Professor
Dalubhalman – Botanist
Dalubhalmanan – Botany
Dalubhayop – Zoologist

Dalubhayupan – Zoology
Dalubituinan – Astrology
Dalubkatawan – Anatomy
Dalubkulisap – Entomologist
Dalubkulisapan – Entomology
Dalublahi – Ethnologist

Dalublahian – Ethnology
Dalubmaginan – Ontology
Dalubamayawan – Cosmology
Dalubsugaan – Optics
Dalubtala – Astronomer
Dalubtalaan – Astronomy

Dalubtalain – Astronomical
Dalubtauhan – Anthropology
Dalubwikaan – Linguistics
Danum – Water
Danumnayan – Hydrology
Dehins – No, Not

Diglap – Radio
Dignayan – Geology
Digtalain – Quasar
Dikit – Pasting
Dilawdinsol – Xanthophyll
Dingding ng Sihay – Cell Wall

Dingsol – Very Dark Ink
Duhandas – Diode
Duhansipat – Binoculars
Dumagsin – to gravitate
Dutaliknayan – Geophysics
Gitisig – Centripetal Force

Gitlawas – Centrosome
Hagway – proportioned tallness
Hatinig – Telephone
Haynayan – Biology
Hayto – Fossil
Higlikas – Supernatural

Higsipnayan – Higher Mathematics
Higtao – Superman
Himababahay – Mansion
Ibayo – Other Side
Idalum – Nadir
Initsigan – Thermodynamics

Ishay – Bacteria
Isig – Force of Willpower
Isigan – to influence or make someone obey
Kabisa – Function
Kalambatan – Network
Kamanahan – Heredity

Kamihasnan – Tradition
Kapid – Pair
Kapnayan – Chemistry
Kawingan – Hyperlink
Kidsulid – Spireme
Kopong – A group Member

Kulayin – Chromatin
Kulaylawas – Chromosome
Kulayputol – Chromomere
Labawlikanyan – Metaphysics
Labawsugnayan – Metaphysics
Lalagukan – Adam’s Apple

Lamuymoy – Tassel
Lawas – Teeth of a Trident
Liha – Sandpaper
Lihukan – Kinematics
Liknayan – Physics
Loobkaphay – Endoplasm

Lumbo – Drinking Cup made of a coconut Shell
Lungkag – Bulky but light in weight
Luntidinsol – Chlorophyll
Madlakasan – Democracy
Malabuntala – Planetoid
Malatala – Asteroid

Mang-aaghimuan – Technologist
Mansusugnay – Physics Worker
Marcosin – To Steal
Masirin – Empirical
Matwiran – Logic
Matwiranin – Logical

Mayaw – Harmony
Mulapik – Atom
Mulasik – Proton
Mulinsigla – Recreation
Mulinyari – Reconstruction
Mulmayawan – Cosmogony

Mulpikan – Atomics
Nayan – -logy
Pabuya – Reward
Pagkamakabagunsakupin – Neocolonialism
Pagkamakagahum – Imperialism
Pahinarya – A website/webpage

Palaasalan – Ethics
Palabathalaan – Theodicy
Palamakatauhan – Humanitarianism
Paladutaan – Geology
Palamuhayan – Ecology
Palasak – Common

Palasihayanan – Histology
Palatatagnan – Organology
Palatumbasan – Theory of Equations
Palautalatan – Statistics
Pandakong Paningob – Magnifying Glass
Panginain – Pasturing

Parianyo – Symmetry
Pariugat – Square Root
Pasipalin – Contingent
Patidyugto – Anaphase
Patuusan – Accounting Office
Pilipit – Act of twisting or wrestling

Plantito – Adult man who have developed interest in plants
Pook Sapot – Website
Pultaon -Decade
Sagwil – Obstacle
Sakla – Astride Position
Sakupbayan- Colony

Salipawpaw- aircraft
Salikop – surrounded
Salumpuwit – chair
Salungki – Panties
Salungso – Brassiere
Sayari – Construction
Siglap – Accidental Glance
Sigmuan – Mechanism
Siha- angle

Sihay – Cell
Sihayan – Tissue
Silidkapnayan – Cytochemistry
Silidkatwan – Cytoplast
Silidkilos – Cytokinesis
Silidkulay – Cytochrome

Silidmanahan – Cytogenetics
Singkal – Splitting of a crack
Sipnayan – Mathematics
Sugaan – Optics
Sugadagitban – Photoelectricity
Suglaguman – Photosynthesis

Sugnayan – Physics
Sugnayanin – Physical
Sugnayanon – Physicist
Sukgisan – Geometry
Sunlad – Act of Evolving
Tagigapay – Trapezoid

Tagihilis – Rhomboid
Tagway – Tallness
Tahandas – Anode
Tahapik – Anion
Tahas – Clear and Direct
Taladalasan – Histogram

Talalahian – Ethnography
Talamayawan – Cosmography
Talaro – Libra
Talihilig – Talent
Talundas – Triode
Talurami – Cube

Taluugat – Cube root
Tanlap – Television
Tataghay – Organism
Tatagukan – Adam’s Apple
Tatsiha – Triangle
Tayudturan – Chordate

Tigal – Inertia
Timbulog – Sphere
Tingirin – Differential
Tubigbilos – hydrolysis
Tuguysipat – oscilloscope
Tungapik – Meson

Tunugan – Acoustics
Ugnaypaa – Arthropod
Ulnong – Society
Ulnuagamahin – Socioreligious
Ulnuagimatin – Socio-economic
Ulnubanwahin – Socio- political

Ulnukalnangin – Socio-cultural
Ulnungkuro – Socialism
Ulop – fog
Untipuno – Oligarch
Untipunuan – Oligarchy
Anluwage – Carpenter
Sipnayan – Mathematics
Antipara – Eyeglasses

Pantablay - Uncommon Filipino Words
Pantablay – Charger
Pang-Ulong Hatinig
Pang-Ulong Hatinig – Headset
Jace Sinclair
Jace Sinclair

A caffeine-dependent writer.

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