Once again, where have I been? 

Over the weekend I was so tickled to learn a new language term, only to find out everyone is already talking about it.

The portmanteau.  It’s been around for years, or at least as long as smog.

There are hundreds of portmanteaus (portmanteaux?) in circulation today, and the booming trend of blending two words into one continues to spread.  I just didn’t know there was a name for it until a friend sent me a Groupon (that’s another one) that used the term in a marketing promotion.

A celebrity couple can’t be mentioned as separate individuals any more, but rather, by their portmanteaus—Brangelina, Tomkat, Bennifer.  Does the First Couple go by Barelle or Michak?

A large share of the high tech vernacular is composed of portmanteaus.  WiFi, for example, as well as modem and even Internet.  Almost anything with “aholic” added on the end is a portmanteau:  chocoholic, workaholic, shopaholic.  And who can forget the Manssiere?

Can you come up with an original portmanteau or two?  Or maybe tell a story?

Billy had a dreambition of becoming a televangelist.  After school, he would go into the cafegymitorium and practice giving a sermily.

One day, in walked Isabella, looking fantabulous in her jeggings.  Billy loved how she ate Gogurt with a spork.

They began talking on their iPhones, with their conversations full of insinuendo.  They became frienefits and starting sexting in Spanglish.

When their parents found out, Billy and Isabella were forbidden to see each other.  But one day, as they were chillaxing in front of the cineplex, a photographer with the local ragazine exposed their relationship.  Billabella was busted.

Horrific, I know.  Try it?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Technology and Social Media

9 responses to “Two-fer

  1. Kathleen

    Just last night at dinner with friends the term Brossiere was used.
    Perhaps they are not Seinfeld fans.

  2. Mom

    When did this happen? A portmanteau was always a kind of briefcase…I can’t figure out the transition.

    • I don’t know how it came about but, as the official definition is “a large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments,” it follows that a portmanteau could mean one thing that holds two.

  3. Sharon

    Check out which explains that Lewis Carroll invented the term, (remember ‘slithy’and ‘mimsy’?) and also includes some interesting examples such as ‘gerry mandering’:

    From Wikipedia: “Examples of “portmanteau” … appeared in Lewis Carroll’s book Through the Looking-Glass (1871),[1] in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky,[8] where “slithy” means “lithe and slimy” and “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable”. Humpty Dumpty tries to justify his habit of changing the meaning of words and combining them in various ways by telling Alice,

    ‘When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’
    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master—that’s all.’

    In his introduction to The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll uses “portmanteau” when discussing lexical selection:

    Humpty Dumpty’s theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious.” Make up your mind that you will say both words … you will say “frumious.”[8]
    The word “portmanteau” itself was converted by Carroll to describe the concept. “Portmanteau” comes from French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum).[9] In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase. In modern French, a portemanteau (or porte-manteaux) is a clothes valet, a coat-tree or similar article of furniture for hanging up jackets, hats, umbrellas and the like.”

  4. dave

    Finnegans Wake.

  5. Mom

    Aha! Now I realize your Dad was ahead of his time with this portmanteau thing: he once bet me $50 that “futeless” was a real word. Now I’ve got it!

  6. William Greene

    This doesn’t work for me: Kaye and Bill = Kill?? Bilkay??

  7. Pingback: The great outdoors « Word Nymph

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