port2A “portmanteau” creates a new term by combining two existing words along with their definitions. For example, “smog” blends “smoke” and “fog” to describe polluted air. “Motel” slurs “motor” and “hotel” to indicate a roadside inn.

Other portmanteaus include brunch (breakfast and lunch), Pictionary (picture and dictionary), chortle (chuckle and snort), Chunnel (channel and tunnel), travelogue (travel and monologue), and imagineer (imagine and engineer.)

Lewis Carroll coined the term in his classic book entitled Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Today we better know the fantastical tale as Alice in Wonderland. In the nonsensical poem, Jabberwocky, Carroll created a number of strange new phrases.

In a bizarre linguistic twist, the word “portmanteau” is itself a portmanteau! The Gallic word combines “porter” (to carry) with “manteau” (cloak). The French term describes a large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments. In a similar fashion, portmanteaus “hinge” two words together into a single entity.

Anyone can play the word creation game. Find two words and combine them together for a new meaning. Here’s my list of some portmanteau possibilities.


This common creature can be found primarily in the southern United States; however, sightings have occurred across North America. In our inclusive society, Methodists and Baptists sometimes intermarry. The resulting offspring are called “Methoptists”. Theological doctrine and ecclesiastical dogma are all forgotten when a Southern Baptist belle bats her eyes at a United Methodist beau. Almost every family in our region contains a Methodist and Baptist in its family tree.


The last presidential election featured technicolor maps dividing the country into blue and red states. However, many Americans vote for the individual and not the party. Issues, integrity, and character prove more important than party designations. “Republicrats” often vote for both Republicans and Democrats during the same election. They seek to elect the best candidate regardless of title.


Although my children do not believe me, I recall a day when our family television could only pick up three local stations with its rabbit ears antenna. Today cable and satellite TV offer hundreds of channels. Although my wrist aches from channel-surfing-carpal-tunnel-syndrome, I still find myself saying, “There’s nothing on TV tonight.” The garbage that passes for prime time TV is “telebage.”


Writing a weekly blog can tax one’s imagination and creativity. Writer’s
block leads to blog fatigue.

Join the game! Create your own portmanteau and share it by hitting “Reply.”

4 thoughts on “Portmanteaus

  1. Well I’ve been using a lot of these for years and didn’t know what they were. This points out the value of higher education.
    Abend: abnormal end (one of the first ones I learned, now out of favor).
    Freeware: free and software (get what you pay for).
    Modem: modulate and demodulate.

    Tell me when to stop….


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