A portmanteau word is made of two words combined together – the term itself originates from the French word portemanteau, combining porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak).

There are countless examples in the English language you’ll already know:

  • Brunch = breakfast + lunch
  • Motel = motor + hotel
  • Telethon = telephone + marathon
  • Fortnight = fourteen + nights
  • Sitcom = situation + comedy


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New ones also tend to appear in response to new social trends:

  • Blog = web + log
  • Netiquette = internet + etiquette
  • Bankster = banker + gangster
  • Smirting = smoking + flirting  (See this article from The Times for details on portmanteau and how smoking bans have given rise to the new word ‘smirting’)

Many companies have got in on the act too, perhaps recognising that this language phenomenon can help to create snappy and memorable brand names:

  • Candwich = can + sandwich
  • FedEx = federal + express
  • Manugistics = manufacturing + logistics

If anyone knows of any interesting portmanteau words or has any ideas for new word combinations then we’d love to hear them!

Here are some of our own (rather poor) attempts:

  • ‘Pap’ = power + nap
  • ‘Englitor’ = English + Editor
  • ‘Globbly’ = gloopy + wobbly
  • ‘Exervousness’ = to describe that common feeling of excitement and nervousness
  • ‘Kitching room’ = to describe an open plan kitchen and dining room

Or, how about some new portmanteau words for some of the phrases commonly seen in the press to describe the current sorry state of the global economy: finapse (financial + collapse), finisis (financial + crisis) or econession (economic + recession)? I don’t know about you, but it all makes me feel rather ‘econessed out’. Feeling stressed out because of the economy – get it? Hmmm, I thought not…..

Give me more!

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Tea and biscuits anyone?