What Does Portmanteau Mean
Portmanteau refers to the linguistic blend of words in which multiple words and their meanings are combined together to form a new word. In literature, portmanteau refers to the technique of combining two or more words to create a new word. The new word has characteristics of both original words. Portmanteaus are a common linguistic phenomenon in modern English.
The word ‘brunch’ is a common example of a portmanteau. Brunch refers to a meal in between breakfast and lunch and is formed by blending the two words lunch and breakfast. The term portmanteau is a blend of two French words: Porter (carry) and Manteau (cloak).
This coinage of new words by blending two existing words together allows writers to showcase their creativity and originality in their work. It also adds an element of interest to the work. Portmanteau also allows writers to create whimsical characters and interesting character names.
Origins of Portmanteau
Lewis Carol is considered the creator of the concept of portmanteau words and he is also the inventor of the portmanteau itself. In his sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains the meaning of the two words slithy and mimsy in the poem titled Jabberwocky. His exact words are:
“You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”
Indeed, the two words slithy and mimsy are examples of portmanteau words. Slithy is made by combining lithe and slimy. Mimsy is made by combining flimsy and miserable.
Common Examples of Portmanteau
Web and log = Blog
Camera and recorder = Camcorder
Motor and hotel = Motel
Fog and smoke = Smog
Europe and Asia =Eurasia
Medical and care = Medicare
Spanish and English = Spanglish
iPod and broadcasting = podcasting
Bang + smash = bash
Clack and crash = clash
Adevertisement and Editorail = advertorial
Chill and Relaxing = chillaxing
Electronic and mail = email
Emotion and icon = emotiocn
Examples of Portmanteau in Literature
Lewis Carol coined the two words chortle and galumph in the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass”.
Chortle is a blend of chuckle and snort.
Galumph is a blend of gallop and triumph
James Joyce also used many portmanteau words in his novel, Finnegans Wake.
Ethiquetical is formed from ethics and etiquette.
Blinkhards is a blend of Dutch blinken (= to shine) and the English to blink.
Laysense is a blend of layman and sense.
Sinduced is a blend of sin and seduced.
Comeday is a blend of someday and comedy.
Fadograph is a blend of fading and photograph.
In Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling also introduces some portmanteau words. However, most of these words are taken from Latin or French. Therefore, they are not very familiar with average English literature. For example, the term animagus, which refers to witches and wizards who can transform them into animals. Animagus created by combining animal and magus (sorcerer).