A portmanteau (// (
The definition overlaps with the grammatical term contraction, but contractions are formed from words that would otherwise appear together in sequence, such as do and not to make don't, whereas a portmanteau word is formed by combining two or more existing words that all relate to a singular concept. A portmanteau also differs from a compound, which does not involve the truncation of parts of the stems of the blended words. For instance, starfish is a compound, not a portmanteau, of star and fish, as it includes both words in full.
The word portmanteau was first used in this sense by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in "Jabberwocky", where slithy means "slimy and lithe" and mimsy is "miserable and flimsy". Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the practice of combining words in various ways:
You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.
Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious". Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will say first … if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say "frumious".
In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase that opened into two equal sections. According to the OED Online, a portmanteau is a "case or bag for carrying clothing and other belongings when travelling; (originally) one of a form suitable for carrying on horseback; (now esp.) one in the form of a stiff leather case hinged at the back to open into two equal parts". According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD), the etymology of the word is the French porte-manteau, from porter, "to carry", and manteau, "cloak" (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum). According to the OED Online, the etymology of the word is the "officer who carries the mantle of a person in a high position (1507 in Middle French), case or bag for carrying clothing (1547), clothes rack (1640)". In modern French, a porte-manteau is a clothes valet, a coat-tree or similar article of furniture for hanging up jackets, hats, umbrellas and the like.
Examples in English
Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon. In Punch in 1896, the word brunch (breakfast + lunch) was introduced as a "portmanteau word." In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name. Similarly Eurasia is a portmanteau of Europe and Asia.
Some city names are portmanteaus of the border regions they straddle: Texarkana spreads across the Texas-Arkansas-Louisiana border, while Calexico and Mexicali are respectively the American and Mexican sides of a single conurbation. A scientific example is a liger, which is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger (a tigon is a similar cross in which the male is a tiger).
Many company or brand names are portmanteaus, including Microsoft, a portmanteau of microcomputer and software; the cheese Cambozola combines a similar rind to Camembert with the same mold used to make Gorgonzola; passenger rail company Amtrak, a portmanteau of America and track; Velcro, a portmanteau of the French velours (velvet) and crochet (hook); Verizon, a portmanteau of veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon; and ComEd (a Chicago-area electric utility company), a portmanteau of Commonwealth and Edison.
Jeoportmanteau! is a recurring category on the American television quiz show Jeopardy!. The category's name is itself a portmanteau of the words Jeopardy and portmanteau. Responses in the category are portmanteaus constructed by fitting two words together.
Portmanteau words may be produced by joining together proper nouns with common nouns, such as "gerrymandering", which refers to the scheme of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry for politically contrived redistricting; the perimeter of one of the districts thereby created resembled a very curvy salamander in outline. The term gerrymander has itself contributed to portmanteau terms bjelkemander and playmander.
Many portmanteau words receive some use but do not appear in all dictionaries. For example, a spork is an eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and a fork, and a skort is an item of clothing that is part skirt, part shorts. On the other hand, turducken, a dish made by inserting a chicken into a duck, and the duck into a turkey, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2010.
Similarly, the word refudiate was first used by Sarah Palin when she misspoke, conflating the words refute and repudiate. Though initially a gaffe, the word was recognized as the New Oxford American Dictionary's "Word of the Year" in 2010.
The business lexicon is replete with newly coined portmanteau words like "permalance" (permanent freelance), "advertainment" (advertising as entertainment), "advertorial" (a blurred distinction between advertising and editorial), "infotainment" (information about entertainment or itself intended to entertain by virtue of its manner of presentation), and "infomercial" (informational commercial).
A company name may also be portmanteau (e.g., Timex is a portmanteau of Time (referring to Time magazine) and Kleenex) as well as a product name (e.g., Renault markets its Twingo, a combination of twist, swing and tango). Another example is Garmin, portmanteau of company's founders firstnames Gary Burrell and Min Kao.
Two proper names can also be used in creating a portmanteau word in reference to the partnership between people, especially in cases where both persons are well-known, or sometimes to produce epithets such as "Billary" (referring to former United States president Bill Clinton and his wife, former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton). In this example of recent American political history, the purpose for blending is not so much to combine the meanings of the source words but "to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other"; the effect is often derogatory, as linguist Benjamin Zimmer states. By contrast, the public, including the media, use portmanteaus to refer to their favorite pairings as a way to "...giv[e] people an essence of who they are within the same name." This is particularly seen in cases of fictional and real-life "supercouples". An early known example, Bennifer, referred to film stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Other examples include Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) and TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). "Desilu Productions" was a Los Angeles, California-based company jointly owned by couple and actors Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Miramax is the combination of the first names of the parents of the Weinstein brothers. On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, The New York Times crossword included the quip, "How I wish Natalie Portman dated Jacques Cousteau, so I could call them 'Portmanteau'".
Holidays are another example, as in Thanksgivukkah, a portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, 28 November 2013. Chrismukkah is another pop-culture portmanteau neologism popularized by the TV drama The O.C., merging of the holidays of Christianity's Christmas and Judaism's Hanukkah.
In vernacular Arabic, contractions are a common phenomenon, in which mostly prepositions are added to other words to create a word with a new meaning.
- إيش (ʔēš, what), from أي (ʔay, which) and شيء (šayʔ, thing).
- ليش (lēš, why), from لـ (li, for) and أي (ʔay, which) and شيء (šayʔ, thing).
- معليش (maʕlēš, is it ok?/sorry), from ما (mā, nothing) and عليه (ʕalayh, on him) and شيء (šayʔ, thing).
- فين (fēn, where), from في (fī, in) and أين (ʔayn, where).
- دحين (daḥēn or daḥīn, now), from ذا (ḏā, this) and الحين (alḥīn, part of time).
- إلين (ʔilēn, until), from إلى (ʔilā, to) and أن (ʔan, that).
- بعدين (baʕdēn, later), from بَعْد (baʕd, after) and أََيْن (ʔayn, part of time).
- علشان/عشان (ʕašān/ʕalašān, because), from على (ʕalā, on) and شأن (šaʔn, matter).
- كمان (kamān, also/more), from كما (kamā as) and أن (ʔan that).
- إيوه (ʔīwa, yes), from إي (ʔī, yes) and و (wa, swear to or promise by) and الله (allāh, God).
A few rare or facetious examples would include:
- لعم ("laʕm") from ("naʕm", yes) and ("la", no), implying you are not sure
- متشائل ("mutashaʔil") from ("mutashaʔim", pessimist) and ("mutafaʔil", optimist), the title of a novel published by Emile Habibi in 1974. The title is translated in English to "The Pessoptimist."
- كهرماء ("kahramaʔ", utilities) coined from كهرباء ("kahrabaʔ", electricity) and ماء ("maʔ", water), the national utilities company of Qatar
- كهرطيسي ("kahratisi", electromagnetic) coined from كهرباء ("kahrabaʔ", electricity) and مغناطيسي ("maghnatisi", magnetic)
In the Bulgarian language, the most common use of portmanteau (in Bulgarian: "портманто" [portmanto′]) is as a word describing a typical furniture for a vestibule in an apartment. It is a coat hook together with a shoe cabinet below it upon which you can leave your belongings such as keys, hat, scarf, gloves, handbag, etc. In Bulgarian this word is not used to describe a blend of words as it is in English, although this linguistic phenomenon is seen here as well. You can also find new terms in Bulgarian formed by binding two words. Some of them are invented for the sake of advertising campaigns. One such example is the word gintuition (джинтуиция pronounced dzhintuitsia), which is made up from the words gin and intuition. This one, in particular, is used, not surprisingly, as a part of a gin commercial. Another example is the word charomat, which consists of the words чар (the Bulgarian word for charm) and аромат (meaning aroma), made popular by an ad about a coffee brand. Another example is shunkavalka (шункавалка), from shunka (ham) and kashkavalka (a cheese brad).
Certain portmanteaus in Filipino have come into use to describe popular combinations of items in a Filipino breakfast. An example of such a combination order is kankamtuy: an order of kanin (rice), kamatis (tomatoes) and tuyo (dried fish). Another is tapsi: an order of tapa and sinangág. Other examples include variations using a silog suffix, usually some kind of meat served with sinangág and itlog (egg). The three most commonly seen silogs are tapsilog (having tapa as the meat portion), tocilog (having tocino as the meat portion), and longsilog (having longganisa as the meat portion). Other silogs include hotsilog (with a hot dog), bangsilog (with bangus (milkfish)), dangsilog (with danggit (rabbitfish)), spamsilog (with Spam), adosilog (with adobo), chosilog (with chorizo), chiksilog (with chicken), cornsilog (with corned beef), and litsilog (with lechon/litson). An establishment that specializes in such meals is called a tapsihan or "tapsilugan".
The name of a common Filipino mongrel dogs askal is derived from Tagalog words "asong kalye" or "street dog" because these dogs are commonly seen in streets. Askals are also called "aspins", a combination of "asong Pinoy" or "Philippine Dog".
Despite its French etymology (modern spelling: portemanteau), portmanteau is not used in French in this context. It is indeed a false friend. It refers to a coat stand or coat hook (literally a "coat support"), but in the past, it could also refer to a cloth drape knights would use to pack their gear. It was in this context that it first came to its English use, and the metaphorical use of a linguistic phenomenon (putting one word inside another, as into a case) is an English coinage. The French linguistic term mot-valise, literally a "suitcase-word", is a relatively recent back-translation from English, attested only since 1970.
Although French of France is regulated by the Académie française (which has had a conservative attitude to neologisms), it produced a number of portmanteau words such as franglais (frenglish) or courriel (courrier électronique = email) and has used the technique in literature (Boris Vian) or to create brands: Transilien (Transports franciliens = Île-de-France transportation system). A recent portmanteau example is Douzelage.
French in Canada has a second regulatory body, named the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), an agency of the Government of Quebec, which is independent of the Académie. It has a tendency to produce neologisms in order to replace anglicisms. It created the portmanteaus courriel (e-mail) from courrier (mail) and électronique (electronic), and clavardage (chatting) from clavier (keyboard) and bavardage (chatter), for example.
Galician has many portmanteaus, some existing also in Portuguese but many others not (or only in the North of Portugal, close to Galicia), which can be explained by its popular origin: carambelo (frozen candy), from caramelo (candy) and carámbano (icicle); martabela (a kind of dead bolt), from martelo (hammer) and tarabela (a kind of drill bit); rabuñar (to scratch with a fingernail, for instance a cat or a person), from rabuxa (a small tail, and also a common ill in tails) and rañar (to scratch); millenta ("many thousands", also common in Portuguese milhenta), from milleiro (one thousand) and cento (one hundred); runxir (to crackle, applied to some things only), from ruxir (to howl) and renxer (to grind the teeth), or vagamundo (tramp), from vagabundo (wanderer) and mundo (world), currently "vagamundo" and "vagabundo" mean the same, and the former is considered a vulgarism.
Kofferwort, a German synonym for portmanteau, is a recent literal translation of French mot-valise, attested since 1983. However, the phenomenon is well known in German poetry. Examples:
- 'Teuro', combining 'teuer' (expensive) and 'Euro'.
- Mainhattan, a combination of Manhattan and the river Main, for Frankfurt (a.k.a. Bankfurt from bank)
- Kreuzkölln, the Berlin area bordering between Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
- 'Jein' is a widely used contraction of 'Ja' (yes) and 'Nein' (no), to indicate a combination of the two.
Modern Hebrew abounds with European mechanisms such as blending: Along with CD, or simply דיסק (Disk), Hebrew has the blend תקליטור (taklitor), which consists of תקליט (taklít, Phonograph record) and אור (or, light). Modern Hebrew is full of portmanteau blends, such as the following:
- ערפיח (arpíakh, smog), from ערפל (arafél, fog) and פיח (píakh, soot)
- מדרחוב (midrakhov, pedestrian-only street), from מדרכה (midrakhá, sidewalk) and רחוב (rekhóv, street)
- מחזמר (makhazémer, musical), from מחזה (makhazé,theatre play) and זמר (zémer, singing [gerund])
Other blends include the following:
- מגדלור (migdalór, lighthouse), from מגדל (migdál, tower) and אור (or, light)
- קרנף (karnàf, rhinoceros), from קרן (kéren, horn) and אף (af, nose)
- רמזור (ramzór, traffic light), from רמז (rémez, indication) and אור (or, light)
Sometimes the root of the second word is truncated, giving rise to a blend that resembles an acrostic:
- תפוז (tapúz, orange (fruit), from תפוח (tapúakh, apple) and זהב (zaháv, gold), as well as תפוד from תפוח and אדמה (adamah, soil) but the full תפוח אדמה is more common in the latter case.
A few portmanteaus are in use in modern Irish, for example:
- Brexit is referred to as Breatimeacht (from Breatain, "Britain", and imeacht, "leave") or Sasamach (from Sasana, "England," and amach, "out")
- The resignation of Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald was referred to as Slánaiste (from slán, "goodbye," and Tánaiste)
- Naíonra. an Irish-language preschool (from naíonán, "infants," and gasra, "band")
- The Irish translation of A Game of Thrones refers to Winterfell castle as Gheimhsceirde (from gheimhridh, "winter," and sceird, "exposed to winds")
- Jailtacht (from English jail and Gaeltacht, "Irish-speaking region"): the community of Irish-speaking republican prisoners.
A portmanteau common in both Hindi and English is Hinglish, which refers to the vernacular of the people in (the Hindi-speaking regions of) North India, where they mix Hindi and English in the spoken language.
Other examples include names of famous personalities like NaMo for Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India; RaGa for Rahul Gandhi; and couples like Virushka for Virat Kohli & Anushka Sharma, Saifeena for Saif Ali Khan & Kareena Kapoor.
In Hungarian language, the first decades of the 19th century saw the language-reforming movement (Hungarian: nyelvújítás), when some authors and poets, like Ferenc Kazinczy, Pál Bugát, Mihály Fazekas, Miklós Révai and others created approximately 10,000 new words and phrases in order to develop Hungarian language to a modern and progressive tongue. Among these new phrases there are some portmanteaus: gyufa (safety matches), consists of gyújtó (burner) and fa (wood).
There is a tradition of linguistic purism in Icelandic, and neologisms are frequently created from pre-existing words. For example, Tölva ("computer") is a portmanteau of tala ("digit; number") and völva ("oracle or seeress").
In Indonesian, portmanteaus are often used as both formal and informal acronyms and referrals. Many organizations and government bodies use them for brevity. Journalists often create portmanteaus for particular historical moments. Examples include:
Formal and journalism uses:
- Golput: voters who abstain from voting, from Golongan Putih, "blank party" or "white party".
- Jagorawi: a motorway linking the cities of Jakarta, Bogor and Ciawi.
- Jabodetabek: the neighboring cities of Jakarta, consisting of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, and sometimes Cianjur (Jabodetabekjur).
- The Suramadu Bridge connects the cities of Surabaya and Madura
- "Malari": refers to "Malapetaka 15 Januari" – a social riot that happened on 15 January 1974.
- Military units, e.g. Kopassus army special forces unit, from Komando Pasukan Khusus, "special forces command". Another example is the Kopaska navy frogman unit, from Komando Pasukan Katak, "Frogman Command".
- Governmental bodies, e.g. "Kemdikbud", refers to "Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan" (Education and Culture Ministry), where the ministry leader is called "Mendikbud", "Menteri Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan" (Minister of Education and Culture).
Informal uses, for example:
- Asbun = Asal bunyi: carelessly speaking
- Mafia = matematika + fisika + kimia: math, physics, and chemistry, three school subjects that are often related with arithmetic
- Caper = cari perhatian: attention seeker
- Warnet = warung internet: internet cafe
- Alay = anak layangan: unfashionable people
- Copas = Copy paste: copying other people's work without permission
- Ropang = roti panggang: toasted bread
- Nasgor = nasi goreng
A very common type of portmanteau in Japanese forms one word from the beginnings of two others (that is, from two back-clippings). The portion of each input word retained is usually two morae, which is tantamount to one kanji in most words written in kanji.
The inputs to the process can be native words, Sino-Japanese words, gairaigo (later borrowings), or combinations thereof. A Sino-Japanese example is the name 東大 (Tōdai) for the University of Tokyo, in full 東京大学 (Tōkyō daigaku). With borrowings, typical results are words such as パソコン (pasokon), meaning personal computer (PC), which despite being formed of English elements does not exist in English; it is a uniquely Japanese contraction of the English personal computer (パーソナル・コンピュータ pāsonaru konpyūta). Another example, Pokémon (ポケモン), is a contracted form of the English words pocket (ポケット poketto) and monsters (モンスター monsutā). A famous example of a blend with mixed sources is karaoke (カラオケ karaoke), blending the Japanese word for empty (空 kara) and the Greek word orchestra (オーケストラ ōkesutora). The Japanese egg-shaped key chain pet toy fad from the 1990s, Tamagotchi, is a portmanteau combining the two Japanese words tamago (たまご), which means "egg", and uotchi (ウオッチ) "watch". The portmanteau can also be seen as a combination of tamago (たまご), "egg", and tomodachi (友だち), which means "friend".
Some Anime titles also are portmanteaus, such as Hetalia (ヘタリア). It came from Hetare (ヘタレ), which means "idiot", and Itaria (イタリア) which means Italy. Another example is Servamp, which came from the English words Servant (サヴァント) and Vampire (ヴァンパイア). A less-obvious anime example, attested mainly in a few URLs including a domain name, is Hagaren, from Hagane no Renkinjutsushi (鋼の錬金術師), the Japanese title for Fullmetal Alchemist.
On Brazilian Portuguese, portmanteaus are usually slangs, some of them include:
- Cantriz, from cantora (female singer) and atriz (actress), which defines women that both sing and act.
- Aborrescente, from aborrecer (annoy) and adolescente (teenager), which is a pejorative term for teenagers.
- Pescotapa, from pescoço (neck) and tapa (slap), which defines a slap on the back of the neck.
On European Portuguese, portmanteaus are also used. Some of them include:
Although not very common in Spanish (except for a pair of compulsory contractions, 'a el'='al' and 'de el'='del'), portmanteaus are finding their way into the language mainly through marketing and media efforts, such as in Mexican Spanish 'cafebrería' from 'cafetería' (coffe shop) and 'librería' (bookstore), or Teletón from 'televisión' and 'maratón'. However, it is very frequent in commercial brands of any type (for instance, "chocolleta", from "chocolate" + "galleta", (cookie), and above all family-owned business (of small size, for instance: Rocar, from "Roberto" + "Carlos", and Mafer, from "Maria" + "Fernanda"). Such usages are obviously prompted by the registering of a distinguishable trademark, but with time is common that a specific trademark became the name of the all similar products, like in Cola Cao, a name which is very common to use to refer any similar product.
- Cantautor, which means Singer-songwriter, and comes from cantante (singer) and autor (songwriter).
- Mecatrónica and Ofimática two neologisms that are blends of mecánica (mechanical) with electrónica (electronics), and oficina (office) with informática (informatics) respectively.
- Espanglish, dialect that combines words from both Spanish (Español) and English.
- Metrobús, blend of metro (subway) and autobús.
- Autopista, blend of automóvil (car) and pista (highway).
- Trabalenguas, which means tongue twister, from trabar (tangle up, jam) and lengua (tongue).
- Many more portmanteaus in Spanish come from anglicisms, which are words borrowed from English, like módem, transistor, códec, email, internet or emoticon.
A somewhat popular example in Spain is the word Gallifante, a portmanteau of Gallo y Elefante (Cockerel and Elephant). It was the prize on the Spanish version of the children TV show Child's Play (Juego de niños) that ran on the public television channel La 1 of Televisión Española (TVE) from 1988 to 1992.
Neologisms are also frequently created from pre-existing words in the Tibetan languages. For example, kubkyab (the common word for "chair") combines the words kub ("butt"), kyag ("a stand"), and gyab nye ("cushion," often for the back). Gyabnye is itself a blend of gyabten ("back support") and nyeba, the verb for "lean against, recline, rest on." Thus the word for chair is "a standing support for one's butt and back to rest on." Tibetan also employs portmanteaus frequently in names of important figures and spiritual practices, such as His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, with Penor being pema norbu ("lotus jewel"), and the Buddhist practice of Dzogchen, or dzogpa chenpo, the "Great Perfection." Tibetan is rich with portmanteaus.
In linguistics, a blend is an amalgamation or fusion of independent lexemes, while a portmanteau or portmanteau morph is a single morph that is analyzed as representing two (or more) underlying morphemes. For example, in the Latin word animalis the ending -is is a portmanteau morph because it is used for two morphemes: the singular number and the genitive case. In English two separate morphs are used (of an animal). Other examples include French a le → au /o/, and de le → du /dy/.
- The name also combines the word lien (link).
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