Posted by: Jack Henry | June 16, 2022

Editor’s Corner: Portmanteau Revisited

We cover all kinds of words here at the Editor’s Corner: homonyms, eponyms, eggcorns, mondegreens, and many, many more. Today, I want to revisit portmanteaus, which were covered several years back by my editing friend, Jackie.

As Jackie said then, a portmanteau is “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog).” Portmanteau also means a trunk or suitcase that opens into two parts. The word portmanteau comes from the word porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak).

In his novel Through the Looking Glass (now commonly known as Alice in Wonderland), author Lewis Carroll created at least two beautiful portmanteaus: chortle (chuckle + snort) and slithy (slimy + lithe) and many more words that are close enough: frabjous (fabulous + joyous) and frumious (fuming + furious).

These are such useful words, and they evoke such wonderful imagery. If you haven’t already started thinking of all the portmanteaus you know of, here’s a long but still partial list of some we use today (not all are listed in a dictionary):

  • alphanumeric (alphabet + numeric)
  • anklet (ankle + bracelet)
  • bash (bang + smash)
  • bodacious (bold + audacious)
  • Bollywood (Bombay + Hollywood)
  • brainiac (brain + maniac)
  • Brexit (Britain + exit)
  • bromance (brother + romance)
  • brunch (breakfast + lunch)
  • camcorder (camera + recorder)
  • carjack (car + highjack)
  • chillax (chill + relax)
  • cyborg (cybernetic + organism)
  • dumbfound (dumb + confound)
  • emoticon (emotion + icon)
  • frenemy (friend + enemy)
  • glamping (glamor + camping)
  • guesstimate (guess + estimate)
  • hangry (hungry + angry)
  • hassle (haggle + tussle)
  • internet (interconnected + network)
  • jeggings (jeans + leggings)
  • labradoodle (Labrador + poodle)
  • modem (modulator + demodulator)
  • moped (motor + pedal)
  • motel (motor + hotel)
  • podcast (iPod + broadcast)
  • scuzzy (scummy + fuzzy)
  • skort (shirt + shorts)
  • snark (snide + remark) also snarky
  • snazzy (snappy + jazzy)
  • tween (teen + between)
  • vlog (video + log)
  • webinar (web + seminar)
  • Wi-Fi (wireless + fidelity)
  • workaholic (work + alcoholic)

I hope you have a fantabulous day today!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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