Word of the Week Wednesday: portmanteau

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: portmanteau.

A portmanteau is a blended or compound word made up of two different words mashed together to combine the meanings of the constituent parts.

Examples are: smog, a mixture of smoke and fog; chortle, a combination of a snort and a chuckle; motel, composed of motor and hotel.

The word is named after a type of suitcase that opens into two parts which comes from the french words porter, to carry and manteau, a cloak.

It was coined, in the sense of a blended word, by Lewis Carroll.  He uses it in Through the Looking Glass where Humpty Dumpty defines the word to explain the language used in Jabberwocky, such as slithy being a combination of lithe and slimy or mimsy being a combination of flimsy and miserable.

Being a fan of the English language, and its inventive use, I can’t help but be a huge fan of Lewis Carroll, so my choice of this word shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Besides the fact that my first exposure to this word is steeped in memories of the delightful nonsense of Wonderland, I love the concept of melding two disparate words into a gestalt and creating something new.


About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

4 Responses to Word of the Week Wednesday: portmanteau

  1. dfolstad58 says:

    Intriguing word and the history of the word provided by you together with the allusion to Wonderland makes this entry delicious! Thanks Dan. Keep up the inspiring blogging!

    • Thanks! Sometimes I do try for delicious.

  2. Jen says:

    But mostly you just succeed without trying! : ) This was a super juicy one, good job!

  3. Pingback: Word of the Week Wednesday: adorkable « On Language

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