Word: portmanteau

Pronunciation: pôrtˈman(t)ō

Meaning: a large travel bag.  Usually made from stiff leather, a portmanteau often divides into to large compartments suitable for carrying clothing. 

Etymology: Portmanteau derives from two Latin words.  The verb, portare means: to carry.  Mantellum in Latin, is a cloak.  Combine the two, run them through hundreds of years in the French language, and out comes portmanteau.

There is a second use of the word, portmanteau.  Lewis Carroll, inspired by the dual nature of the travel portmanteau, coined the term, portmanteau word. 

I doubt you are going to see the original meaning of portmanteau, but portmanteau words are all over the place.  We use them daily.

A portmanteau word is a blending of two words.  For example, when we combine smoke with fog, we get the portmanteau word, smog.

Here are more portmanteau words:

  • motor + hotel = motel
  • lion + tiger = liger
  • Governor Elbridge Gerry + salamander = Gerrymander
  • Europe + Asia = Eurasia
  • Texas + Arkansas + Louisiana = Texarkana
  • microcomputer + software = microsoft
  • America + track = Amtrack
  • Trans + America = TransAm
  • Veritas (Latin for “truth”) + Horizon = Verizon
  • spoon + fork = spork
  • skirt + shorts = skort

Famous people sometimes become portmanteau words:

  • Bill Clinton + Hillary Clinton = Billary
  • Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie = Brangelina
  • Tom Cruise + Katie Holmes = TomKat
  • Ben Affleck + Jennifer Lopez = Bennifer

Got any that I haven’t thought of?  I would love to hear them!  Contact me, or join the forum!