Portmanteaus and Other Made-up Words


“Wait!” you may be saying.  “Portmanteau is a real word!”  Well, yes, and portmanteau words are for real … although it may take a while for the culture to accept them.  I know people who refuse to acknowledge the existence of ginormous (wow, I can’t believe spellcheck actually accepted that), but I suspect the word is here to stay.

If you’re still thinking “What the blazes is a portmanteau?” I’ll explain it here:  Take two words and smoosh them together (remember: safety first).  If you combine smoke and fog, you get smog.  Easy, right?

Dogs are often victims of portmanteau words.  Labradoodles and cockapoos are just a more precise way of calling them crossbreeds (or it’s the owner’s way of claiming “I meant to do that”).  We have a dog we’re convinced is part Labrador and part beagle.  So what should we call him?  Labeagle or beagador?

Actually, animals in general have gotten smooshed together throughout history.  Beefalo is what you get from a beef cow and a buffalo.  Once upon a time a lion and a tiger produced a liger.  I’ve heard of the offspring of zebras and donkeys called both donkras and zonkeys (although spellcheck only recognizes the second one).

So how come when somebody crossed a horse with a donkey, they called it a mule?  Was it because dorse sounds too insulting, and honkey is … too insulting?

You’ve probably quipped new coinages of words quite often, but often it’s in situations where they don’t stick.  Trying to figure out if a certain shade of color is blue or purple?  Just call it blurple.  Can’t decide if that smell is spicy or funky?  Call it spunky … or maybe not.

Well, that’s enough portmanteau words for now.  So before I get hangry and begin to use snark, I think I’ll have some brunch and use a spork to eat turducken….

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