Tip #698:  Do You Portmanteau?

“Don’t bogglefunk around with words.” Roald Dahl

I recently read an article in which the word satisficing was used. The word intrigued me. According to the author, satisficing is a combination of sufficing and satisfying.

This led me to investigate if there were other words that were made by combining the sounds and meanings of two existing words. I learned that such a composite word is called a portmanteau. I also discovered that there are many portmanteaus that we use on a daily basis, frequently without realizing that’s what they are.

A portmanteau is typically defined as a large trunk or suitcase that opens into two equal parts. However, Lewis Carroll gave it a new meaning in his book, Through the Looking Glass, when he had Humpty Dumpty say: “Well, ‘slithy’ means “lithe and slimy” and ‘mimsy’ is “flimsy and miserable”. You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

Some portmanteau words are very familiar and easy to deconstruct:

·  Backronym: back + acronym ·  Manscaping: man + landscaping
·  Breathalyzer: breath + analyzer ·  Meld: melt + weld
·  Brexit: Britain + exit ·  Motel: motor + hotel
·  Camcorder: camera + recorder ·  Motorcycle: motorized + bicycle
·  Caplet: capsule + tablet ·  Netflix: internet + flicks
·  Glamping: glamorous + camping ·  Palimony: partner + alimony
·  Infomercial: information + commercial ·  Pluot: plum + apricot
·  Infotainment: information + entertainment ·  Simulcast: simultaneous + broadcast
·  Inscape: interior + landscape ·  Sitcom: situational + comedy
·  Internet: international + network ·  Tween: teen + between
·  Malware: malicious + software ·  Wikipedia: wiki + encyclopedia

Some portmanteau words are unfamiliar, but they are still relatively easy to deconstruct:

·  Affluenza: affluent + influenza ·  Prequiem: preemptive + requiem


·  Anticipointment: anticipation + disappointment ·  Screenager: screen + teenager


Some words are very familiar, but their contributing terms may be surprising- at least, they surprised me. For example, I never knew that the word blog is composed of web and log.

·    Bit: binary + digit ·    Ineptitude: inept + attitude
·    Chortle: chuckle + snort ·    Microsoft: microcomputer + software
·    Cyborg: cybernetics + organism ·    Modem: modulation + demodulation
·    Endorphin: endogenous + morphine ·    Muppet: marionette + puppet
·    Fortnight: fourteen + nights ·    Pixel: picture + element
·    Gainsay: against + say ·    Prissy: prim + sissy
·    Garmin: Garry Burrell + Min Kao ·    Skype: sky + peer-to-peer
·    Gerrymander: Gerry + salamander ·    Smog: smoke + fog
·    Goodbye: God + be (with) + ye ·    Taxicab: taximeter + cabriolet
·    Groupon: group + coupon ·    Travelogue: travel + monologue
·    Hassle: haggle + tussle ·    Vitamin: vita + amine
·    Humongous: huge + monstrous ·    WiFi: wireless + fidelity

There were some words I’ve never seen before. For example, I live in Wisconsin, where we get a lot of snow and ice, and I’ve never heard this word used in any weather forecast, snice: snow and ice.

·    Ambigram: ambiguous + gram ·    Mizzle: mist + drizzle
·    Automagically: automatic + magically ·    Sporgery: spam + forgery
·    Flexitarian: vegetarian + flexible ·    Stagflation: stagnation + inflation

And some words seem like malapropisms when we hear them for the first time, but they are actually real words; for example, refudiate: repudiate + refute

It really makes me wonder who originally coined these words, why they felt the need to create them, and how they were so darn clever!

If you would like to see more portmanteaus, these two sites have very complete lists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_portmanteaus and http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/portmant.htm

By the way, there are numerous websites that can help you if you’d like to create your own portmanteaus. One site,  https://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Made-Up-Word , walks you through a step by step process. Another site does the conversion for you: http://www.degraeve.com/invent-a-word.

May your learning be sweet.


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