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For other uses, see Portmanteau (disambiguation).

A portmanteau (Listeni/pɔːrtˈmænt/, /ˌpɔːrtmænˈt/; plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux /-ˈtz/) or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words,[1] in which parts of multiple words, or their phones (sounds), and their meanings are combined into a new word.[1][2][3] The word "portmanteau" comes from the French for overcoat stand (porte manteau), where many coats may be placed on top of coats that are already on the stand, which continues to function as a coat stand.

A portmanteau word fuses both the sounds and the meanings of its components, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog,[2][4] or motel, from motor and hotel.[5] In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.[6][7][8][9]

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 which the portmanteau describes.

A portmanteau should also be distinguished 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; whereas a hypothetical portmanteau of star and fish might be stish.


The word "portmanteau" was first used in this context by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass (1871),[10] in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky,[11] where "slithy" means "slimy and lithe" and "mimsy" is "miserable and flimsy." Humpty Dumpty explains the practice of combining words in various ways by telling Alice:

You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.

In his introduction to The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll uses "portmanteau" when discussing lexical selection:

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."[11]

In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase that opened into two equal sections. The etymology of the word is the French porte-manteau, from porter, to carry, and manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum).[12] 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.[13][14][15]

A humorous synonym for "portmanteau word" (in the sense of "blend") is frankenword, itself an example of the phenomenon it describes (i. e., an autological word), blending "Frankenstein" and "word".[16]

It has also been used especially in Europe as a formal description for hat racks from the French words porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak).

Examples in English[edit]

Main article: List of portmanteaux

Standard English[edit]


The original "Gerrymander" pictured in an 1812 cartoon. The word is a portmanteau of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry's name with "salamander."

Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon.[11] In Punch in 1896, the word brunch (breakfast + lunch) was introduced as a "portmanteau word."[17] 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 portmanteaux of the border regions they straddle: Texarkana spreads across the Texas-Arkansas 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 or tiglon 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."

"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 portmanteaux 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 re-districting; 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.

Oxbridge is a common portmanteau for the UK's two oldest universities, those of Oxford and Cambridge.

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.[18]


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).

Non-standard English[edit]


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.[19] By contrast, the public, including the media, use portmanteaux to refer to their favorite pairings as a way to "...giv[e] people an essence of who they are within the same name."[20] 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).[20] "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.

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.[21][22]

Word/morph (linguistics)[edit]

In linguistics the term blend is used to refer to general combination of words, and the term portmanteau is reserved for the narrow sense of combining two or more morphemes in one morph. E.g. in the Latin word animalis the ending -is is a portmanteau morph because it is used for two morphemes: the singularity and the genitive case. In English two separate morphs are used (of an animal).

The term may also be extended to include contractions. Examples of such combinations include:

Language Combination Portmanteau

Preposição "a"

   Contração com artigo definido:
       (Combinação) par ou ímpar
       a + o(s) = ao(s)
       a + a(s) = à(s)
   Contração com pronome demonstrativo:
       (Combinação) par ou impar
       a + o(s) = ao(s)
       a + a(s) = à(s)
       a + aquele(s) = àquele(s)
       a + aquela(s) = àquela(s)
       a + aquilo = àquilo
   Combinação com advérbio:
       a + onde = aonde
       a + diante = adiante

YouTube Complementação "de"

   Contração com artigo definido:
       de + o(s) = do(s)
       de + a(s) = da(s)
   Contração com artigo indefinido:
       de + um(ns) = dum(ns)
       de + uma(s) = duma(s)
   Contração com pronome pessoal:
       de + ele(s) = dele(s)
       de + ela(s) = dela(s)
   Contração com pronome demostrativo:
       de + o(s) = do(s)
       de + a(s) = da(s)
       de + este(s) = deste(s)
       de + esta(s) = desta(s)
       de + esse(s) = desse(s)
       de + essa(s) = dessa(s)
       de + aquele(s) = daquele(s)
       de + aquela(s) = daquela(s)
       de + isto = disto
       de + isso = disso
       de + aquilo = daquilo
   Contração com advérbio:
       de + aqui = daqui
       de + aí = daí
       de + ali = dali
       de + acolá = dacolá
       de + onde = donde
   Contração com pronome indefinido:
       de + outro(s) = doutro(s)
       de + outra(s) = doutra(s)
       de + outrem = doutrem

Preposição "em"

   Contração com artigo definido:
       em + o(s) = no(s)
       em + a(s) = na(s)
   Contração com artigo indefinido:
       em + um(ns) = num(ns)
       em + uma(s) = numa(s)
   Contração com pronome pessoal:
       em + ele(s) = nele(s)
       em + ela(s) = nela(s)
   Contração com pronome demonstrativo:
       em + o(s) = no(s)
       em + a(s) = na(s)
       em + esse(s) = nesse(s)
       em + essa(s) = nessa(s)
       em + este(s)= neste(s)
       em + esta(s) = nesta(s)
       em + aquele(s) = naquele(s)
       em + aquela(s) = naquela(s)
       em + isto = nisto
       em + isso = nisso
       em + aquilo = naquilo
   Contração com pronome indefinido:
       em + outro(s) = noutro(s)
       em + outra(s) = noutra(s)
       em + outrem = noutrem

Complemento "para"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       para + o(s) = prò(s) (português europeu) ou pro(s) (português brasileiro)
       para + a(s) = prà(s) (português europeu) ou pra(s) (português brasileiro)

Preposição "per"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       per + o(s) = pelo(s)
       per + a(s) = pela(s)

Complementação "por"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       por + o(s) = pelo(s)
       por + a(s) = pela(s)

Entre preposições

   de + entre = dentre[1]

Entre advérbios

   Contração de pronome indefinido com pronome demonstrativo:
       outro(s) + aquele = aqueloutro(s)
       outra(s) + aquela = aqueloutra(s)
       outro(s) + esse = essoutro(s)
       outra(s) + essa = essoutra(s)
       outro(s) + este = estoutro(s)
       outra(s) + esta = estoutra(s)

Contrações arcaicas Preposição "a"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       a + a = à (vou a + a escola = vou à escola)
       a + o = ao ( vou a + o cinema = vou ao cinema) [2] [3]
       a + os = aos (vou a + os anos da Maria = vou aos anos da Maria)[4] [5]

Preposição "com"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       com + o(s) = co(s) [6]
       com + a(s) = coa(s) [7] [8] [9]

Preposição "por"

   Contração com artigo definido ou pronome:
       por + o(s) = polo(s)[10]
       por + a(s) = polentra

Pronomes pessoais

   Contração de pronome pessoal com pronome pessoal:[11] [12]
       me + o(s) = mo(s)
           Exemplo: Ei, devolva-me o caderno. Devolva-mo!
       me + a(s) = ma(s)
           Exemplo: Dê-me as lâmpadas. Dê-mas!
       te + o(s) = to(s)
           Exemplo: Se dou-te os cachorros? Dou-tos, sim.
       te + a(s) = ta(s)
           Exemplo: Queres que eu dê as pranchas para ti? Pois dou-tas, certamente.
       lhe(s) + o = lho(s)
           Exemplo: Você espera que eu lhe pague o montante, mas não lho pagarei.
       lhe(s) + a = lha(s)
           Exemplo: Você ainda acredita que eu lhe darei as fichas? Em tal caso, espere sentado, pois eu não lhas darei.
       nos + o(s) = no-lo(s)
           Exemplo: Você nos deve pagar os dividendos. Ande: pague-no-los.
       nos + a(s) = no-la(s)
           Exemplo: Se ao menos ele nos entregasse a casa... Fulano: entregue-no-la!
       vos + o(s) = vo-lo(s)
           Exemplo: A vós preocupa o que ocorreria caso eu vos apresentasse tal argumento? Por quê? E se eu vo-lo apresentasse?
       vos + a(s) = vo-la(s)
           Exemplo: A vós alegrará sobremaneira caso eu vos entregue as barras de ouro, não é verdade? Pois vo-las ofereço: cá estão.

French à le au
à les aux
de le du
de les des
en les ès
German in das ins
in dem im
zu dem zum
zu der zur
Irish de an den
do an don
Spanish a el al
de el del
Italian a il al
a la alla
a lo allo
a l' all'
a i ai
a gli agli
a le alle
di il del
di la della
di lo dello
di l' dell'
di i dei
di gli degli
di le delle
da il dal
da la dalla
da lo dallo
da l' dall'
da i dai
da gli dagli
da le dalle
Cornish a an a'n
Welsh i ein i'n
o ein o'n
West Frisian bist do bisto
yn de yn 'e

This usage has been referred to as "portmanteau morph".[6]

While in Portuguese, French, Spanish and Italian the use of the short forms is obligatory (with the exception of ès in French, which is archaic in most senses), German and Cornish speakers theoretically may freely choose the form they use. In German, portmanteaus clearly dominate in spoken language, whilst in written language both forms are in use.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Garner's Modern American Usage, p. 644
  2. ^ a b "Portmanteau". Merriam-Webster Offline Dictionary. Retrieved 21 June 2008. 
  3. ^ "Portmanteau word". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. Retrieved 21 June 2008. 
  4. ^ "portmanteau word". Webster's New World College Dictionary. Cleveland: Wiley. 2010. ISBN 0-7645-7125-7. 
  5. ^ "Portmanteau word". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "What is a portmanteau morph?". LinguaLinks Library. 2003.  External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Thomas, David (1983). "An invitation to grammar". Summer Institute of Linguistics. Bangkok: Mahidol University: 9. 
  8. ^ Crystal, David (1985). "A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics" (2nd ed.). New York: Basil Blackwell: 237. 
  9. ^ Hartmann, R.R.K.; Stork, F.C. (1972). "Dictionary of language and linguistics". London: Applied Science: 180. 
  10. ^ "portmanteau, n.". Oxford English Dictionary, third edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., and Hyams, N. (2007) An Introduction to Language, Eighth Edition. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 1-4130-1773-8.
  12. ^ "Portmanteau." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
  13. ^ Petit Robert: portemanteau - "malle penderie" (suitcase in which clothes hang)
  14. ^ "PORTEMANTEAU : Définition de PORTEMANTEAU". cnrtl.fr. 
  15. ^ Such a "coat bag" is mentioned in Chapter 12 of Alexander Dumas' ″The Count of Monte Cristo″ The Count of Monte Cristo
  16. ^ Victor Frankenstein being the creator of the monster in Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, the monster being constructed from parts from several bodies.
  17. ^ Punch, 1 August 1896, 58/2
  18. ^ "NEW OXFORD AMERICAN DICTIONARY’S 2010 WORD OF THE YEAR IS...". Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  19. ^ Zimmer, Benjamin (1 November 2005). "A perilous portmanteau?". Language Log. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 11 November 2008. 
  20. ^ a b Winterman, Denise (3 August 2006). "What a mesh". BBC News Magazine. Retrieved 17 July 2008. 
  21. ^ Christine Byrne (2 October 2013). "How To Celebrate Thanksgivukkah, The Best Holiday Of All Time". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Stu Bykofsky (22 October 2012). "Thanks for Thanukkah!". Philly.com. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 

External links[edit]