Headbloom Blog

Two Dozen Portmanteau Words You Should Know In English
A portmanteau is a word that combines two words to create a hybrid meaning. The most well known of these may be brunch (the meal eaten at 10 or 11 AM), which derives from breakfast + lunch or motel (an inexpensive place to sleep) from motor + hotel or smog (the dirty air in Los Angeles) from smoke + fog. Technology has added many portmanteau words to English. Perhaps the most famous of these are e-mail (electronic + mail) and blog (a column published online) from web + log.

The word portmanteau comes from British author Louis Carroll, who invented many words in his literary writing, including chortle (a joyful laugh) from chuckle + snort. Portmanteau itself is a combination of two French words: porter (to carry) + manteau (a coat or cloak).

Here are 24 important portmanteau words for being fluent in English:

  • netiquette (internet + etiquette) = being polite while online
  • infomercial (information + commercial) a TV advertisement of program length
  • humongous (huge + enormous) = very large
  • spork (spoon + fork) = a plastic utensil with small tines at one end and a bowl at the other
    image a spork (source: fotolia)

  • webinar (web + seminar) = taking a class on your computer
  • podcast (iPod + broadcast) = programming that can be downloading to an MP3 player
  • breathalyzer (breath + analyzer) = breath test to see if you are too drunk to drive
  • e-zine (electronic + magazine) = a magazine that arrives via email
  • wi-fi (wireless + fidelity) = system allowing internet browsing without cables
  • carjack = (car + hijack) = taking someone‚Äôs car away from them (under threat)
  • Ebonics (ebony + phonics) = the spoken dialect of black U.S. Americans
  • gaydar (gay + radar) = the social sensitivity to guess if someone is gay
  • dumbfound (dumb + confounded) = to be so surprised as to be speechless
  • guesstimate (guess + estimate) = an approximation, an imprecise estimate
  • emoticon (emotion + icon) = keyboard symbols showing how a writer feels

emoticon for regret (source: fotolia)

  • flounder (founder + blunder) = to be clumsy and confused
  • glitzy (glitter + ritzy) = fancy, showy, flashy
  • hassle (harass + tussle) = to bother, struggle with, or cause someone trouble
  • snarky (snide + remark) = making critical or arrogant comments
  • murse = (man + purse) a leather bag carried by a man
  • sexting (sex + texting) = sending sexual messages or images via text messages
  • televangelist (television + evangelist) = religious person who recruits you on TV
    image televangelist Joel Osteen (source: Wikipedia)
  • gerrymander (Gerry + salamander) = revising boundaries of voting districts for the advantage of one political party
  • sitcom (situation + comedy) = a humorous serial drama based on everyday life occurrences

If you like playing with portmanteau words, here are dozens more for you to enjoy.

Alan Headbloom