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The Portmanteau – English Grammar December 5th, 2017

Aren’t you ever curious how certain English words came about? Well, this month we are going to look at one particular category of words: the portmanteau. The etymology of this word is French, but is used in modern English to refer to the linguistic blend of two words to become a brand new one. A couple of classic examples are smog (smoke + fog) and brunch (breakfast + lunch).

Portmanteaus are constantly being invented and this can be attributed to the creativity of language speakers. The influence of popular culture and new technology has also played its part in prompting the integration of these new words into our lexicon. Check out the lists below:


screenager = screen + teenager
malware = malicious + software
emoticon = emotions + icons
webinar = web + seminar
Yelp = Yellow pages + help

Popular Culture

bromance = brother + romance
hactivist = hack + activist
romcom = romance + comedy
frenemy = friend + enemy
hangry = hungry + angry

The sky is the limit with portmanteaus! They have even been used to blend two people’s names together. One of the first and most notable examples was the celebrity couple “Brangelina” (Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie). Needless to say, language is constantly evolving and depends on people like you to experiment with it. So, go out there and be a lexiconnoisseur!