The other day, my friend Julie Glover wrote a post that included the newish word ginormous, and it made me think about blended words that we use everyday without realizing that someone made them up and used them until they caught on. The English language is a crazy, evolving thing. We use portmanteau words all the time.
According to wikipedia, “The word comes from the English portmanteau luggage (a piece of luggage with two compartments), itself derived from the French porter (to carry) and manteau (coat), which is a false friend of the French compound word porte-manteau meaning coat rack.”
The online version of Encyclopedia Britannica, gives Lewis Carroll credit for coining the word “portmanteau” to describe the words he created in Through the Looking-Glass and “Jabberywocky.” This article at World Wide Words expands on Carroll’s creativity, as well as all the ways we blend words to find new words all the time.
People have been blending words for as long as language has existed.
Here are some portmanteau words that we use in English without thinking about their origins:
- blog—web and log (maybe that one’s obvious)
- brunch—breakfast and lunch
- cankle—calf and ankle
- contrail—condensation and trail (airplane trail)
- cyborg—cybernetic and organism
- druthers—would (‘d) and rather
- grungy—grunt and dingy
- podcast—iPod and broadcast
- prissy—prim and sissy
- motel—motor and hotel
- Rolodex—rolling index
- smog—smoke and fog
- spork—spoon and fork utensil
- taxicab—taximeter and cabriolet
- vlog—video and log
These are newer words:
- absitively—absolutely and positively (also: absotively)
- brony—brother and pony (usually attributed to boys, teens, and men who find special humor in My Little Pony)
- emoticon—emotion and icon
- fantabulous—fantastic and fabulous (one of my favorites)
- ginormous—giant and enormous
- quillow—quilt and pillow (I got one of these clever quilts folded into a pillow for Christmas once)
- Spanglish—English and Spanish (maybe not that new)
- snuba—snorkel and scuba
- tankini—tank top and bikini
- turducken—A dish with turkey, duck, chicken combination (smaller birds inserted into the larger) for roasting.
Here’s one that Bluebonnet made up and is one of my personal favorites: sweird (from so weird or super weird).
Wiktionary.org has a fantabulously ginormous list of blended words. Click here to see it. You might be surprised to see how many words are really blended words.
The list also includes a ridiculous number of slangilicious creations. Some probably shouldn’t have ever been coined (and may scar you for life).
These are my new favorites that I’ve never heard before:
- randumb—random and dumb (a non sequitur that is silly or stupid or foolish)
- spamdalism—spam and vandalism (spammy ads clogging up a web page)
- squicky—squeamish and icky
What blended words surprised you? Have you made up blended words? Share some new ones and their meanings.