Solidus Portmanteau
English, as we’ve expounded upon in various blogs, is a funny language. It’s a pastiche of European languages, Slavic languages, innumerable dialects, slang, regionalisms, and words created simply for the sake of creating them.

Some words start off as two specific, preexisting words that are combined in such a way that they create a completely new, standalone word. These are called portmanteaus. Which is French. From an Italian word. See what a rich tapestry it is?

Possibly the most famous portmanteau is smog. Everyone knows what smog is, but not everyone knows that the term was created by combining “smoke” and “fog.” Another is motel, which came from “motor” and “hotel.” And lest we forget electrocution, which blends “electro” and “execution.”

Below are some other popular portmanteaus, and some that haven’t quite caught on yet. My new favorite? “Tatooth.” (From tatoo and tooth; a reference to those who have implanted gold initials or diamonds, etc., on their teeth.)

  • “galumph” (gallop and triumph)
  • “chortle” (chuckle and snort)
  • “maffluent” (mass affluent; groups of people who have become relatively affluent because of the value of their stock investments)
  • “momentaneous” (instantaneous and momentary)
  • “splisters” (splinters and blisters)
  • “swifting” (shifting and switching)
  • “editated” (edited and annotated)
  • “splatter” (splash and spatter)
  • “squish” (squirt and swish)
  • “blurt” (blow and spurt)
  • “splutter” (splash and sputter)
  • “grumble” (growling and rumbling)
  • “flaunt” (flout and vaunt)
  • “flare” (flame and glare)
  • “squawk” (squall and squeak)
  • “slanguage ” (slang and language)
  • “escalator” (escalade and elevator; where escalade comes from Italian through French, meaning “the act of scaling or climbing the walls of a fortified place by ladders”)
  • “stagflation” (stagnate and inflation)
  • “cinemactress” (cinema and actress)
  • “sexperts” (sex and expert)
  • “Saniflush” (sanitary and flush)
  • “Bisquick” (biscuit and quick)
  • “netizen” (net and citizen)
  • “netiquette” (net and etiquette)
  • “modem” (modulator and demodulator)
  • “pixel” (pix and element; picture element, basic unit of an on-screen image)
  • “shareware” (share and software; free trial software often requiring later payment)
  • “emoticon” (emotion and icon)
  • “brunch” (breakfast and lunch)

By Steve Boudreault



 


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