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Comment on: Quimp: A word meaning “quality of life impairment”

Pavel V. Chernyshov

Chair of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Task Force on Quality of Life and Patient Oriented Outcomes, Department of Dermatology and Venereology, National Medical University, Kiev, Ukraine. E-mail:

A neologism is a new word or phrase that is not yet used regularly by most speakers and writers (1). Many famous writers proposed their neologisms to the public: Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray’s, Geoffrey Chaucer, Dostoyevsky, Sydney Porter (O. Henry), etc. Some of those words are still in use, meanwhile, others remained in their books only.

Neologisms are common in medicine. For example: Selman Waksman first used the word antibiotic as a noun (2) and Casimir Funk and his “vitamine” transformed later into shorter form “vitamin” (3).

Neologisms remind us that language is not something set in stone, but an evolving body of work, subject to adjustment, deletions, additions, and change. As new things are invented, and as slang becomes acceptable, and new technologies emerge, new words must fill the gaps in language. Neologisms are a reflection of language’s ability to grow and evolve with time, culture, and technology (1)

Of course, we can’t predict the destiny of any “fresh” neologism but those neologisms that are needed to reflect a distinct new phenomenon have better chances to “survive” and live as long as the phenomenon by itself.

According to Finlay’s Correspondence in this issue (4) the main purpose of proposing a new word to mean “quality of life impairment” is to facilitate the integration of thinking about quality of life (QoL) into routine clinical practice. Growing interest to QoL studies, a wide range of reasons for QoL assessment (5) and the authority of Prof. Finlay give a good chance for acceptance of a new word.

QUIMP belongs to a specific type of neologism – “portmanteau”. According to the Encyclopaedia  Britannica a portmanteau word is a word composed of parts of two or more words, such as chortle from chuckle and snort and motel from motor and hotel. The term portmanteau was first used by Lewis Carroll (6). Thus QUIMP is composed of quality and impairment. Its brevity is an obvious advantage but it is unfortunate that the word life is not represented in this construction. As doctors we have primary goal to protect the life of the patient, meanwhile, quality and impairment are secondary in this context. Therefore, I have the courage to ask Prof. Finlay to add “L” to his word. Whilst, “QUALIMP” is probably a registered trademark, “QULIMP” or “QUIMPL” are possible variants.

The future of a new word depends on all of us. We can use it in our publications and facilitate colleagues to use it in their work.

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