Word for Wednesday: Brunch

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for July is portmanteau words.

portmanteau word is made up of two or more existing words that have been blended together. The term was coined by Lewis Carrol in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

A portmanteau is a type of suitcase which had two compartments and so Carroll used it as a metaphor for a term that made of two separate words merged together.

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.”

Last week, we looked at the word blog. Today’s word is brunch.

Brunch – luxurious Sunday mornings consuming Bloody Marys, mimosas, and smashed avocado on toast – may seem like a recent trend. In fact, this meal has been popular for over a century.

The word – a blend of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ – dates to the late-nineteenth century and was popularised by British students.

Brunch even appeared in the August 1st 1896 edition of Punch:

ACCORDING to the Lady, to be fashionable nowadays we must "brunch." Truly an excellent portmanteau word, introduced, by the way, last year, by Mr GUY BERINGER, in the now defunct Hunter's Weekly, and indicating a combined breakfast and lunch. At Oxford, however, two years ago, an important distinction was drawn. The combination-meal, when nearer the usual breakfast hour, is "brunch," and, when nearer luncheon, is "blunch." Please don't forget this.

'Breakfast' itself is a blend of the words ‘break’ and ‘fast’ and has been used to describe the first meal of the day since the mid-fifteenth century.

'Lunch' is the 1786 shortening of the word ‘luncheon’ which, in turn, has been used to describe the midday meal since the 1650s.

13 Jul 2022
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