The Meaning of Neo: What It Is and How To Use It

This article will give you all of the info you need on the word neo, including its various definitions, uses, origin, synonyms, and more!

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What does the prefix neo mean?

According to MacMillan English Dictionary, the Greek prefix neo means modern or new. This prefix is pronounced “ni-oh.” This prefix can be used with nouns and adjectives to describe things that exist in the present day differently than they once did. This modern form of whatever is being described is made by affixing the prefix neo to the beginning of it. 

Dictionary states that the prefix neo is a combining form of néos, a Greek word meaning new. As for the etymology of the prefix, Etymonline states that neo is an element that can form many words and means new, young, or recent. This is used in an innumerable amount of adjectives and nouns, and has been in use since roughly the 1880s. In physical sciences, prefixes “caeno” and “ceno” can be used in the same way, and “paleo” is the opposite of both of those.

There are many words that begin with the prefix neo. Many of these are listed below alongside their definitions.

  • Neocolonialism – A way in which great powers indirectly maintain their political or economic influence over other areas or people. This stems from colonialism, which refers to great powers physically conquering other nations. With neocolonialism, the power is indirect as opposed to direct.
  • Neo-Nazi – People who are neo-Nazis still believe in the horrific programs and policies of Hitler’s Nazis, though they exist in the modern day as opposed to World War II era.
  • Neoclassicism – This term relates to a revival or adaptation of classical music, art, architecture, and literature.
  • Neolithic – As opposed to paleolithic, this can either refer to the last period of the Stone Age, or to something that belonged to an earlier age and is now outdated, like a VHS player in 2020.
  • Neopentane – This is a gaseous of volatile liquid form of hydrocarbon, represented as (CH3)4C. This can be found in small amounts in petroleum and natural gas. This is made up of hydrogen and carbon atoms.
  • Neophyte – This is used to mean novice or beginner, particular when referring to a new convert to a church or religion.

What does the acronym NEO mean?

According to The Free Dictionary, the acronym NEO can stand for a wide variety of different things. As opposed to the prefix neo, the acronym NEO will be written in all caps to differentiate it from the prefix. Some of these acronyms are very specific and are not commonly used. One should always be careful when using acronyms and ensure that the context is very clear so that someone knows exactly what the user means.

  • Near Earth Object
  • Northeast Ohio
  • Nelson Email Organizer
  • National Exchange Officer
  • Non-Equity Option (finance)
  • New Engine Option (aviation)
  • Network-Enabled Operations
  • Network Enterprise Objects (Sun)
  • Neo-Adjuvant Chemotherapy
  • Nissan Ecology Oriented
  • Nursing Education Opportunities (US HRSA)
  • Nuclear Explosive Operations
  • Neapolitan
  • New Employee Orientation
  • Named Executive Officer
  • Non Ejaculatory Orgasm
  • Northeast Oklahoma Railroad
  • Noncombatant Evacuation Operation
  • NATO Eyes Only (NATO security classification)
  • New Earth Organization (Buck Rogers RPG)
  • New Economic Order
  • Network Element Object
  • Northern Exposure Organics (Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, Canada)
  • Northeast Orchestra
  • National Engineering Organization
  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Earth Observations (US NASA)
  • Noncombatant Evacuation Order
  • Newly Elected Official (various organizations)
  • Nissan Ecology Oriented (engine technology)
  • Near Earth Objects Information Center

Where is the word neo seen in popular culture?

The most famous usage of the word Neo is in the film The Matrix. According to IMDb, the film was released in 1999. It was written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, and stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Ann Moss. In the film, a computer hacker named Neo is led to the underworld and discovers that his life was a deception of an evil cyber-intelligence by androids.

Neo is played by Keanu Reeves. He was prophesied by The Oracle to be The One, and goes on a journey to save humanity from the Matrix, according to Fandom. The One is a person who is destined to save the world and has special powers. Neo is an anagram for the word one. He appears in all of the movies in the Matrix franchise. Fandom states that the Matrix film trilogy and short stories detail a war between humans and sentient machines within a virtual reality called the Matric. 

What are synonyms for the word neo?

There are many different synonyms for the prefix neo, which means “new” or “modern.” One would never use the word neo on its own as it has to be paired with a noun or adjective. Thesaurus lists numerous synonyms for both the words “new” and “modern.”

  • Concomitant
  • Latest
  • Contemporary
  • Novel
  • Cutting-edge
  • Current
  • Latter-day
  • Prevailing
  • Now
  • Advanced
  • Brand-new
  • Present
  • Modernized
  • Present-day
  • State-of-the-art
  • Contempo
  • Prevalent
  • Fresh
  • Stylish
  • Avant-garde
  • Twenty-first century
  • Ultramodern
  • Leading-edge
  • Modernistic
  • Modish
  • Neoteric
  • Late
  • Recent
  • Today
  • Coincident
  • Newfangled
  • Up-to-date
  • Up-to-the-minute
  • Au courant
  • With-it
  • Concurrent
  • new-fashioned

Overall, the definition of neo is “new” or “modern.” This is a Greek prefix that is seen in a variety of different  nouns and adjectives. NEO is also an acronym with many different meanings. The most famous usage of the word Neo is as a name in the 1999 film The Matrix

Sources:

  1. https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/neo
  2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/neo
  3. https://www.etymonline.com/word/neo-
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neocolonialism
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neo-Nazi
  6. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neoclassicism
  7. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neolithic
  8. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neopentane
  9. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/neophyte
  10. https://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/NEO
  11. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/
  12. https://matrix.fandom.com/wiki/Neo
  13. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/new
  14. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/modern?s=t
  15. https://matrix.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page