When a word totally goes out of general use, it would be referred to as obsolete.
Archaic elements in the English vocabulary can be classified as follows:
Semantic archaisms retained their forms but acquired new meanings or stylistic coloring: fair "beautiful".
Lexical/proper archaisms are no longer in general spoken or written use, but can be found in poetry, nursery rhymes, etc.: steed (horse), to behold (to see), belike (probably), forebears (ancestors), to wit (namely).
Phonetic/ spelling archaisms, morphological archaisms denote existing things but to a certain extent are ousted by their variants: wilt (will), olde (old), o'er (over), e'er (ever), beauteous (beautiful), bepaint (paint), darksome (dark), oft (often).
Partial archaisms are older forms used in Modern English in other functions:
- archaic participles as verbal adjectives only (a hidden meaning/ The meaning is hid; a rotten plank/ The plank was rotted by water; a drunken man/ The man has drunk much wine);
- as parts of compounds (oft-told, garlic, playwright);
- survived in idioms (Many a little makes a mickel);
- as proper names (Webster, Chandler).
The name for the thing which is no longer in use becomes a historism. Here belong the names referring to :
- transport means (berlin, brougham, fly, gig);
- vehicles (prairie schooner, caravel, galleon);
- weapons (breastplate, crossbow, arrow);
- social sphere (cannibal, brother colonist, absentee in Australian English; double-decker in New Zealand English; free township, Indian brandy in Canadian English; Conestoga wagon, farthingale in US English; breakwater, civilized labour in South African English).
Neology is the subbranch of lexicology which studies coinage. Neologism is the creation of a new lexical item, as response to changed circumstances in the external world, which achieves some currency within a speech community; also called coinage.
Main ways of neologism development:
(1) Semantic neologism - a lexical unit existing in the language can change its meaning to denote a new object or phenomenon (to cowboy " to drive recklessly", shit "something excellent");
(2) Transnomination -a new lexical unit can develop in language to denote an object or phenomenon which already has some lexical unit to denote it (slum > ghetto > inner town/city);
(3) Proper neologism - a new lexical unit can be introduced to denote a new object or phenomenon (yarg "a mild white moist cheese made in Cornwall; thigmorphogenesis).
Semantic groupings of neologisms appeal to such aspects as:
- sciences and humanities (eye-scanner, telemonitory unit);
- social life (muppie "middle-aged urban professional people", survivor "someone belonging to the lowest layers of society", emulator "someone who tries to prosper in life and imitate hose who they want to belong", jet set "those who can afford travelling by jet planes all over the world enjoting their life");
- criminalization (stocking mask);
- higher society (dial-a-meal, dial-a-taxi);
- teenagers' lingo (Drugs! "OK!"; sweat "a marathon");
- everyday life (slimster “one-piece bathing suit”, macrobiotics "raw vegetables, crude rice", bumbag "a small bag worn on the waist', pants-skirt "a combination of a mini-skirt and pants", dangledolly "a dolly-talisman dangling in the car before the windscreen")
Neologisms can be subdivided into :
(1) phonological neologisms are formed by combining unique combinations of sounds, the so-called artificial neologisms (rah-rah "a short skirt worn by the girls during parades");
(2) borrowings belong to phonetic neologisms, or strong neologisms(perestroika, geige "Chinese perestroika")