A portmanteau word is created by combining two existing words. They are sometimes eventually recognized by dictionaries, but more often, they appear as slang and quickly fade into obsolescence. A common and relevant example is blog (web + log).
Lewis Caroll gets credit for the linguistic term portmanteau. In his Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains the poem “Jabberwocky” to Alice:
Well, slithy means lithe and slimy … You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.
“Jabberwocky” also gave us the now common word chortle, which is the blending of chuckle and snort.
Other common portmanteaux include:
- smog (smoke + fog)
- motel (motor + hotel)
- brunch (breakfast + lunch)
- alphabet (alpha + beta)
- bioterrorism (biological + terrorism)
- camcorder (camera + recorder)
- electrocution (electric + execution)
- spork (spoon + fork)
- sportscast (sport + broadcast)
- televangelist (television + evangelist)
- infomercial (information + commercial)
- guesstimate (guess + estimate)
- parasailing (parachute + sailing)
But the most entertaining portmanteau words are those that won’t likely ever make the dictionary — words that are invented to meet a particular need for a particular time. Those below are in this category. Whether they survive remains to be seen.
- edutainment (education + entertainment)
- slanguage (slang + language)
- ginormous (gigantic + enormous)
- mathlete (math + athlete)
- dramedy (drama + comedy)
- Chinglish (Chinese & English)
- affluenza (affluent + influenza)
- joggling (jogging + juggling)
Here are a few others I found online, including their definitions:
- apocalapse: gap between predictions of the end of the world and when it actually happens
- skopping: a movement something like hopping and something like skipping
- jerd: someone who is both a jock and a nerd
- arrognance: the quality of being simultaneously ignorant and arrogant
- mediocracy: a democracy where mediocrity abounds
- arachnaclaustrophobia: fear of being in close spaces with spiders
- momentaneous: happening momentarily and instantaneously
- framily: a friend who is part of your family
And here’s my current favorite:
- precipilude: When you’re driving in the rain and you go under an bridge — that moment where the rain isn’t beating down on your windshield; a precipitation interlude.
Got any more? I’d love some originals.
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