I read a sentence in The Hindu which was:

BRICS has proved its naysayers wrong since the idea of grouping the world’s “five emerging economies” was coined by a consultant two decades ago (BRICS was formed in 2006).

Going by the context I have read the word "coin" in, I don't think an idea is coined. It is usually a term or phrase or word. So is that wrong?

  • To coin something is to fashion, devise or create it - from the idea of stamping a coin from raw metal. It's a metaphor that can be used for anything that one has initiated or made, although it is far more likely in some contexts than others. – Ronald Sole Nov 16 '19 at 17:20
  • I think the article actually means: the idea behind the phrase, or something like that. Generally, in English, you coin a term or a phrase. Not an idea. – Lambie Nov 16 '19 at 20:04

While there are grammar rules (people can recognise something as ungrammatical, even if they understand it) There are very few, if any, strict rules about meaning.

If a phrase of English has had the intended effect (of communication, of persuasion, or of beauty etc.) then it is correct.

The usual idiom is to "coin a word". This was developed from the original meaning of "make a coin". Since the 1940s we have been saying "coin a phrase". I see no great problem in further extending the meaning to "coin an idea", especially when the idea is closely linked with a particular word "BRICS".

The meaning of the paragraph is clear: "The word and idea of considering the five largest developing economies was invented 20 years ago". English is flexible enough for extended meanings of words to be used, in context, all the time.

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