Word for Wednesday: Frenemy

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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.”

Over July we’ve looked at the words blog, brunch, and escalator. Our final word of the month is frenemy.

The term frenemy is used to describe someone who appears friendly in interactions with another person, but who actually harbours a deeper dislike for them. The word is a blend of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’.

Although frenemy has been in use since in English the 1950s, it became popular in the 1990s.

'Friend' comes from the Old English ‘freond’, from the Proto-Germanic ‘frijōjands’ meaning ‘friend or lover’, from the PIE ‘priy-ont-’ meaning 'loving'.

'Enemy' comes from the Old French ‘enemi’, from the Latin ‘Inimicus’. The word has been used in English since the early-thirteenth century.


27 Jul 2022
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