From Fantabulous to Frenemy to Frappuccino: Fifty Portmanteau Words

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What is a portmanteau word?

A portmanteau word is made up of two or more existing words that have been blended together.

Often portmanteau words start off as slang or nonsense words but later become part of Standard English due to being widely used. The rise of technology and the internet, in particular, has led to many portmanteau words being created, e.g. pixel, emoticon, and vlog.

Why ‘portmanteau’?

It was the famous British children’s writer, Lewis Carroll, who first used ‘portmanteau’ to describe these word blends in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

A portmanteau was a type of suitcase which had two compartments, and so Carroll used it as a metaphor for a term that had two separate words packed into it. In the novel, the character Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice: “You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

We’ve written about Lewis Carroll’s use of nonsense words previously – you can read more about them here.

Fifty examples of portmanteau words:

Portmanteau Word

What is it made up from?

Biopic Biographical and (Motion) Picture
Blog Web and Log
Bromance Brother and Romance
Brunch Breakfast and Lunch
Camcorder Camera and Recorder
Carjack Car and Hijack
Cheeseburger Cheese and Hamburger
Chillax Chill and Relax
Chinglish/ Franglais/ Hinglish/ Spanglish Chinese and English / Français and Anglais / Hindi and English / Spanish and English
Chortle Chuckle and Snort
Cyborg Cybernetic and Organism
Dramedy Drama and Comedy
Emoticon Emotion and Icon
Endorphin Endogenous and Morphine
Escalator Escalate and Elevator
Fandom Fan and Kingdom
Fantabulous Fantastic and Fabulous
Fanzine Fan and Magazine
Frappuccino Frappé and Cappuccino
Frenemy Friend and Enemy
Ginormous Gigantic and Enormous
Guesstimate Guess and Estimate
Hangry Hungry and Angry
Infomercial Information and Commercial
Jeggings Jeans and Leggings
Keytar Keyboard and Guitar
Labradoodle Labrador Retriever and Poodle
Malware Malicious and Software
Mathlete Mathematics and Athlete
Mocktail Mock and Cocktail
Mockumentary Mock and Documentary
Moped Motor and Pedal
Motel Motor and Hotel
Napalm Naphthene and Palmitate
Netiquette Internet and Etiquette
Newscast News and Broadcast
Oxbridge Oxford and Cambridge
Pixel Picture and Element
Pleather Plastic and Leather
Rom Com Romantic and Comedy
Sitcom Situational and Comedy
Skort Skirt and Shorts
Smog Smoke and Fog
Snark Snide and Remark
Spork Spoon and Fork
Taxicab Taximeter and Cabriolet
Vitamin Vital and Amine
Vlog Video and Blog
Webcast World Wide Web and Broadcast
Workaholic Work and Alcoholic

You will have noticed that some of these examples are slang words while others are widely used in professional writing – if you are planning on using any of these words in your own writing, make sure that they are appropriate to the style you are aiming for! Have a good week!

Avani Shah


15 Sep 2014
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