Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Portmanteau and It Isn't a Valise

Not being an English major and simply a word-a-phile, I still knew "Portmanteau" when my son used it this last weekend. However, I did not know the secondary meaning which is now all the rage across the Internet. I defined it correctly as “a large suitcase.” He grinned and said it’s also a word whose form and meaning are derived from the blending of two words, i.e. fog + smoke = smog. It seems to have been derived from the original term of a suitcase. Stuffing things into a suitcase ---stuffing words together to make a new one.

This word play has become a game with the younger generation to make up these new words. There is even a blog about it which the New York Times has recognized www.dailyportmanteau.com I was fascinated. Like Kathy, I am always eager to learn new things about the English language. This was something that I thought we as writers should know about. Okay, there are probably a lot of you out there that already know about this but hey, us older people are still trying to catch up. I thought I would give you a few examples:

Slithy – lithe and slimy
Splisters – splinters and blisters
Editated – edited and annotated
Squish – squirt and swish
Slanguage – slang and language
Sexatraordinary – sex and extraordinary
Netizen – net and citizen
Emoticon - emotion and icon such as :) (betcha didn’t know that had a name)
Tatooth – tattoo and tooth, like people who put diamonds or gold on their teeth
Infanticipate – infant and anticipate – people expecting a baby
Videots – video and idiots – people addicted to videos and television
Shareware – share and software
Alcoholidays – alcohol and holidays

And you know who was credited with beginning this? Not anyone recent – Lewis Carrol in the “Jabberwocky.” Geez, I learned a whole lot of new things just by listening to my son. Who knew? That got me started looking up these things. Then I went on to trying to figure out what Cyberpunk and Steampunk were (since all the romance publishers are looking for this). Am I hopelessly out of date or what?

Tell me something new you learned recently. A word, a phrase something that you had no clue about. Are you up to date on all the latest jargon or so behind (like me) that you have to do some research. After skimming through the Internet, I fascinated my husband by explaining to him what cankles were (another portmanteau – ankles + calf) then wowed him with tramp stamp (I just threw that one in because I thought it was funny). I was on a roll. Share some new words with us here under the Tulip Tree. Can we make a portmanteau out of that? Hmmm…Tultree.


  1. Obviously the word "surf" has a whole new meaning. No water is required now. And I had to get someone to explain BFE to me. Just go look it up because it isn't very polite. I'm sure I know more but it's too early to think of them. LOL! Well, there you go. There's all the online abbreviations like TTYL and OTOH and ROTFLMAO.

    Marilyn -- who didn't know what a portmanteau was but does know what a chiffarobe is

  2. All the abbreviations you have mentioned - I have had to call my son to get the definitions. I know what you mean.

    I have two chiffarobes - shades of "To Kill a Mockingbird." We Southerners...

  3. These combined words drive me crazy. Sometimes they make perfect sense, like emoticon and shareware, but others make me shudder. I think Jabberwocky is fun, but can't stand the modern propensity to combine. Editated makes me hyperventilate. Argh!

    I know a lot of the abbreviations (Twitter user here) but also have to look them up from time to time. Now, people are going nutty with making faces. There's even a website that explains what they are and which keys to use. o.O I believe that one is perplexed. >.< Yep, Cartman (South Park). That's about the extent of it for me.... ;)

  4. Lynn, where do you go to look up the emoticons? I am always trying to figure them out.

    Yeah, those combinations were driving me crazy this weekend. My son seemed to think it was funny. He was getting me back for all the times I told him to go look up a word.

  5. Language is ever changing and not always for the better. Connotations change and, all of a sudden a word I've been using all my life, doesn't mean the same thing at all. Portmanteau gone. Perambulator will be the next to go and I love that word. Perambulator, perambulator, perambulator. I love the feel of it.

  6. Well, teaching fourth grade means that I often learn new words or new meanings to words that I thought I knew. One word is "boougie." As in "That is so boougie" meaning wrong or unfair.

    There are many others but I can't but them on the world wide web!

  7. I'll have you know I owned a perambulator when my children were babies. We lived in Germany when #1 son was born and I bought it used from another family. I loved that thing and shipped it back to the US and used it here. After #2 son had outgrown it, I had a garage sale and sold it to a German family that was beyond delighted to get it.


  8. PM I'm counting on us to keep the word. Maybe I'll buy one to wheel my cats around. Or not. I guess I can be satisfied with saying it. . . .

  9. I can't find the website now. :( I should have bookmarked it!

  10. This is really cool! I love the word play, Cheryl!

    I knew about cankles from my kids. LOL!

    Love Vidiots!

    My favorite word is also one of Jean's, Persnickety. ;)