A portmanteau is a word that is formed by combining two different terms to create a new entity. Through blending the sounds and meanings of two existing words, a portmanteau creates a new expression that is a linguistic blend of the two individual terms.
For example breathalyzer is the portmanteau word formed from combining breath and analyzer, while blog is derived from the source words web and log.
The Origin of the Word Portmanteau
The term portmanteau was first used by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass:
“Well, ‘slithy’ means “lithe and slimy” and ‘mimsy’ is “flimsy and miserable”. You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”
Interestingly, the word portmanteau itself is also a blend of two different words: porter (to carry) and manteau (a cloak).
Portmanteau words are extremely popular in modern-day English and new word combinations are regularly popping up. Below you will find 86 examples of portmanteau.
If you like this, take a look at our list of words you shouldn’t use in an essay.
86 Examples of Portmanteau and Their Definitions
- administrivia (administrative/trivia): Dull administration activities that must be completed.
- affluenza (affluence/influenza): The guilt or lack of motivation experienced by people who have made or inherited large amounts of money.
- anacronym (anachronism/acronym): An acronym that is derived from a phrase that is no longer in wide usage (for example, radar).
- animatronic (animate/electronics): Robots that are constructed to look like animals.
- anticipointment (anticipation/disappointment): The feeling of letdown one experiences when hype gives way to reality.
- bionic (biology/electronic): Artificial body parts that have been enhanced by technology.
- bodacious (bold/audacious): Insolent or unrestrained, extraordinary or impressively large.
- Bollywood (Bombay/Hollywood): The Indian movie industry.
- Brangelina (Brad/Angelina): Word used to describe the celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
- bromance (brother/romance): A close relationship between two men.
- brunch (breakfast + lunch): A meal that is eaten after breakfast but before lunch.
- carjack (car/hijack): To take someone’s car by force.
- celebutant(e) (celebrity/debutant(e)): Someone who is famous for being famous but who has no apparent talent.
- chillax (chill/relax): Calm down, rest.
- Chinglish (Chinese/English): A variation of the English language as spoken by people of Chinese descent.
- chocoholic (chocolate + alcoholic): Someone who eats excessive amounts of chocolate.
- chortle (chuckle/snort): Laugh in a breathy, gleeful way.
- Chunnel (channel/tunnel): Word used to describe the Channel Tunnel that runs between the UK and France.
- cineplex (cinema/complex): A movie theatre with several screens.
- Cocacolonization (Coca-Cola/colonization): The aggressive introduction or pervasive influence of American consumerism on other cultures.
- cosplay (costume + play): Dressing up in costumes that resemble characters from popular culture.
- craptacular (crap/spectacular): Entertainment that is so poor in quality it captivating.
- crunk (crazy/drunk): Out of control after consuming alcohol.
- cyborg (cybernetic/organism): A human or fictional entity whose physiological functioning is enhanced by mechanical elements.
- docusoap (documentary/soap opera): A hybrid drama that follows the lives of real people over a given period of time.
- dumbfound (dumb/confound): Greatly astonish or amaze.
- ebonics (ebony/phonics): A distinct form of English that is spoken by people of African descent.
- edutainment (education/entertainment): Games or other forms of entertainment that have an educational aspect.
- electrocution (electricity/execution): Death by electricity.
- emoticon (emotion/icon): The use of keyboard characters to represent a facial expression.
- evailable (electronic/available): To be available online via an electronic method such as email.
- faction (fact + fiction): A story, speech or novel that contains historical and real-life facts combined with invented information.
- fanzine (fan/magazine): A magazine that is targeted at fans of a specific genre.
- feminazi (feminist/Nazi): An extreme feminist.
- flare (flame/glare): A sudden brief burst of bright flame or light.
- flexitarian (vegetarian/flexible): A vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.
- frankenfood (Frankenstein/food): Genetically modified food.
- frenemy (friend/enemy): Someone who is supposed to be a friend but whose actions are more characteristic of a foe.
- gaydar (gay/radar): The ability to identify whether a person is homosexual based on an observation of their appearance and/or behavior.
- geocaching (geography + caching): A modern-day treasure hunt in which participants use a GPS to hide and seek containers.
- ginormous (giant/enormous): Large, huge.
- glamping (glamour/camping): Luxury camping.
- glitz (glamour/Ritz): Extravagant yet superficial.
- guesstimate (guess + estimate): To estimate without solid facts or figures.
- infomercial (information/commercial): A television program that promotes a product in an informative and supposedly objective way.
- infotainment (information + entertainment): Forms of popular media that blend information and entertainment together. Similar to edutainment (education + entertainment).
- interrobang (interrogative/bang): A combination of a question mark and an exclamation point.
- irregardless (irrespective/regardless).
- internet (international/network): A global system of interconnected computer networks. You can access our proofreading service via the Internet.
- shero (she/hero): A woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
- jackalope (jackrabbit/antelope): An antlered species of rabbit (mythical).
- knowledgebase (knowledge/database): Intellectual capital that is stored in a central area. Similar to wisdombase (wisdom/database).
- liger (lion/tiger): A crossbreed between a lion and a tiger.
- malware (malicious/software): Computer programs that are designed to damage or disable computer systems.
- mansplaining (man/explaining): Explaining something to a woman in a condescending manner.
- manwich (man/sandwich): A sandwich made from any of the ingredients that are available in the fridge.
- McMansion (McDonalds/mansion): A blandly generic large house.
- meld (melt/weld): Blend/combine.
- metrosexual (metropolitan/heterosexual): A man who appears to be inordinately concerned about personal aesthetics and/or is perceived for this quality as being homosexual.
- mockumentary (mock/documentary): A genre of film and television in which fictitious events are presented in documentary-style manner.
- modem (modulation/demodulation): An electronic device that makes possible the transmission of data to or from a computer via telephone or other communication lines.
- motel (motor/hotel): Overnight accommodation designed for motorists.
- motorcade (motor/cavalcade): A procession of motor vehicles.
- murse (man/purse): A man’s purse.
- netizen (internet + citizen): An individual who is heavily involved with online activities.
- Nintendinitis (Nintendo/tendonitis): A condition caused by playing too many video games.
- Oxbridge (Oxford/Cambridge): An inclusive term that is used to describe both Oxford and Cambridge universities.
- pregnesia: (pregnancy/amnesia): The loss of your short-term memory as a result of pregnancy.
- ridonkulous (ridiculous/donkey): The epitome of ridiculous.
- rockabilly (rock’n’roll/hill-billy): A type of popular music, originating in the southeastern US in the 1950s, combining elements of rock and roll and country music.
- skort (skirt/shorts): A pair of shorts that resemble a skirt.
- screenager (screen/teenager): The typical adolescent who indulges excessively in screen entertainment.
- scuzz (scum/fuzz): Something that is regarded as disgusting.
- shemale (she/male/female): A man disguised as a women.
- shopaholic (shop/alcoholic): An individual who is addicted to shopping and buying products.
- smog (smoke + fog): A form of air pollution that has the qualities of both smoke and fog.
- Spanglish (Spanish/English): A hybrid language that combines English and Spanish.
- spork (spoon/fork): A hybrid form of cutlery.
- stagflation (stagnation/inflation): Persistent high inflation and unemployment accompanied by stagnant demand.
- telethon (television/marathon): A very long television program.
- televangelist (television/evangelist): An evangelist who regularly appears on television.
- three-peat (three/repeat): A third consecutive victory.
- tomacco (tomato/tobacco): A hybrid created by grafting a tomato plant onto the roots of a tobacco plant.
- turducken (turkey/duck/chicken): A dish consisting of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed into a de-boned turkey.
- vidiot (video/idiot): A habitual, undiscriminating watcher of television or videotapes.
- workaholic (work/alcoholic): An individual who works excessive hours.
Can you think of any examples of portmanteau? Leave a comment and share them with our readers.