Monday, March 21, 2016

My Theme for the 2016 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge (#atozchallenge)

Click on the image to see everyone else doing a theme reveal!

Last month, I did a Stream of Consciousness Saturday post about contractions, and I started thinking about words like “suitcase” or “keyboard,” which aren’t contractions but are somewhat related. Now, those words are compound words, words made up of two or more words (suit + case, key + board), but I mistakenly called them portmanteaus, or portmanteaux if you prefer. Deborah Drucker (whose blog you really need to read, if you don’t) commented that she had only ever heard the term in reference to luggage…

A portmanteau (image: Photobucket)

That’s one use for the word, but I was thinking in terms of portmanteau words, like “smog” (smoke + fog) or “Prevacid” (prevent + acid). Merriam-Webster Online defines portmanteau (the word type, not the luggage type) this way:

a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)

We use portmanteaus all the time, sometimes without knowing that they are. I didn’t know, for example, that cyborg (cybernetic + organism) was one. Ditto vitamin (vital + amine), endorphin (endogenous + morphine), and transistor (transfer + resistor). They’re like compound words, but they typically only use portions of the words (morphemes) to constitute them.

I think you get the point. I’d give more examples, but then I wouldn’t have anything to write about next month. Instead, join me starting a week from Friday as we take a look at…



from The Sound of One Hand Typing


  1. John, what an interesting idea! I'm very interested because I am a big Jeopardy game show fan and from time to time they have a category of portmanteau words. I'm excited to learn.