A portmanteau is a word that typically combines both sounds and meanings of two other words, becoming a linguistic blend of words, as in the word smog which is developed by blending smoke and fog together. A portmanteau is a shortened version of a compound word, as it combines two or more words together so that they can function as a single unit of meaning. In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Humpty Dumpty explained to Alice the meaning of portmanteau, where ‘two meanings are packed up into one word’. According to Humpty Dumpty, slithy means ‘lithe and slimy’, and mimsy is ‘flimsy and miserable’. Some people consider Lewis Carroll to be the godfather of the portmanteau, as he came up with this mythical beast called a snark, which has now become a portmanteau for the words snide and remark. Sometimes more than two words can be used, as in turducken, which comes from turkey + duck + chicken.
The word bleen comes from the combination of blue and green. A person who ranges in age between young childhood and adolescence, normally being 10 to 12 years old is a tween and this portmanteau is made up of the words between + teen, so once you turn thirteen, you are no longer a tween. Anytime I look at a zonkey, it makes me smile and the zonkey is produced by the crossbreeding of a male zebra and female donkey. The word portmanteau is an obsolete term for a kind of suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments. Most portmanteau words combine the prefix of one word with the suffix of the other. The portmanteau can be dumb or brilliant and they may be the highest form of humor packing two meanings into one word that is shorter and still makes sense. The simple past and past participle of the word portmanteau is portmanteaued.
An optimistic person would say that the portmanteau is useful to those who are striving for efficiency in writing and speech, as they can turn two words and their accompanying concepts into a single one that ends up being more than the sum of its parts. I found a website for people who want to create their own portmanteau word. Making your own portmanteau sounds very intimidating, but maybe it is not all that difficult and I imagine that the words opera and composer could be combined together, thus making Handel, Monteverdi, Mozart, Puccini, Rameau, Rossini, Verdi, and Wagner all becoming an opposer. Could upward mobility be combined to make the word upility? Abstractory is formed from the words abstract and factory and this is a software package that creates abstract art. Kidlife crisis is a combination of the words kid and midlife crisis and this is an emotional crisis that occurs when one becomes a parent. The word sysop is made from system and operator.
I try my best to avoid all of the portmanteau dogs, except for the Labradoodles, a combination of a Labrador and a Poodle, which I think are kind of cute. The cockapoo, Cocker Spaniel and Poodle just sounds creepy to me and the Schnoodle (Schnauzer and poodle cross), along with the Shepsky (German Shepherd/Siberian Husky cross) are weird. There seems to be an endless amount of portmanteau words, but innovation is required to make a real portmanteau, otherwise you are just smooshing words together, which can be fun, but this would never last the test of time. Innovation begins and ends with a question, the answer is the question. If you are always looking for answers, you could be missing out on unexpected opportunities. Once you have learned how to ask relevant and appropriate questions, then no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know. If you decide to create your own portmanteau, than ask yourself if it actually makes sense.
Written for Tyler M Deal 5 Words Prompt – Green Upward Factory System Avoid, for Daily Addictions prompt – Obsolete, for FOWC with Fandango – Compound, for July Writing Prompts – The answer is the question, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Intimidating, for Ragtag Community – Duck, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Opera, for Swimmers the New Community Pool prompt – Smile, for Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Three Things Challenge prompts – thirteen, midlife crisis, past and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Striving.