A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phonemes are combined into a new word,
as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is a single morph that is analyzed as representing two underlying morphemes.
The definition overlaps with the grammatical term contraction, but contractions are formed from words that would otherwise appear together in sequence, such as do and not to make don't, whereas a portmanteau word is formed by combining two or more existing words that all relate to a singular concept. A portmanteau also differs from a compound, which does not involve the truncation of parts of the stems of the blended words. For instance, starfish is a compound, not a portmanteau, of star and fish, as it includes both words in full.


The word portmanteau was first used in this sense by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass, where Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of unusual words used in "Jabberwocky". In the phrase slithy is used to mean "slimy and lithe" and mimsy is "miserable and flimsy". Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the practice of combining words in various ways:
In his introduction to The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll uses portmanteau when discussing lexical selection:
In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase that opened into two equal sections. According to the OED Online, a portmanteau is a "case or bag for carrying clothing and other belongings when travelling; one of a form suitable for carrying on horseback; one in the form of a stiff leather case hinged at the back to open into two equal parts". According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the etymology of the word is the French porte-manteau, from porter, "to carry", and manteau, "cloak". According to the OED Online, the etymology of the word is the "officer who carries the mantle of a person in a high position, case or bag for carrying clothing, clothes rack ". In modern French, a porte-manteau is a clothes valet, a coat-tree or similar article of furniture for hanging up jackets, hats, umbrellas and the like.
An occasional synonym for "portmanteau word" is frankenword, an autological word exemplifying the phenomenon it describes, blending "Frankenstein" and "word".

Examples in English

Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon. In Punch in 1896, the word brunch was introduced as a "portmanteau word." In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name. Similarly Eurasia is a portmanteau of Europe and Asia.
Some city names are portmanteaus of the border regions they straddle: Texarkana spreads across the Texas-Arkansas-Louisiana border, while Calexico and Mexicali are respectively the American and Mexican sides of a single conurbation. A scientific example is a liger, which is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger.
Many company or brand names are portmanteaus, including Microsoft, a portmanteau of microcomputer and software; the cheese Cambozola combines a similar rind to Camembert with the same mold used to make Gorgonzola; passenger rail company Amtrak, a portmanteau of America and track; Velcro, a portmanteau of the French velours and crochet ; Verizon, a portmanteau of veritas and horizon; and ComEd, a portmanteau of Commonwealth and Edison.
Jeoportmanteau! is a recurring category on the American television quiz show Jeopardy!. The category's name is itself a portmanteau of the words Jeopardy and portmanteau. Responses in the category are portmanteaus constructed by fitting two words together.
Portmanteau words may be produced by joining together proper nouns with common nouns, such as "gerrymandering", which refers to the scheme of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry for politically contrived redistricting; the perimeter of one of the districts thereby created resembled a very curvy salamander in outline. The term gerrymander has itself contributed to portmanteau terms bjelkemander and playmander.
Oxbridge is a common portmanteau for the UK's two oldest universities, those of Oxford and Cambridge. In 2016, Britain's planned exit from the European Union became known as "Brexit".
Many portmanteau words receive some use but do not appear in all dictionaries. For example, a spork is an eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and a fork, and a skort is an item of clothing that is part skirt, part shorts. On the other hand, turducken, a dish made by inserting a chicken into a duck, and the duck into a turkey, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2010.
Similarly, the word refudiate was first used by Sarah Palin when she misspoke, conflating the words refute and repudiate. Though initially the word was a gaffe, it was recognized as the New Oxford American Dictionarys "Word of the Year" in 2010.
The business lexicon is replete with newly formed portmanteau words like "permalance", "advertainment", "advertorial", "infotainment", and "infomercial".
A company name may also use portmanteau words. Examples include Timex and Kleenex as well as a product name. Another example is Garmin, portmanteau of company's founders firstnames Gary Burrell and Min Kao.


Two proper names can also be used in creating a portmanteau word in reference to the partnership between people, especially in cases where both persons are well-known, or sometimes to produce epithets such as "Billary". In this example of recent American political history, the purpose for blending is not so much to combine the meanings of the source words but "to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other"; the effect is often derogatory, as linguist Benjamin Zimmer states. By contrast, the public, including the media, use portmanteaus to refer to their favorite pairings as a way to "...giv people an essence of who they are within the same name." This is particularly seen in cases of fictional and real-life "supercouples". An early known example, Bennifer, referred to film stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Other examples include Brangelina and TomKat. "Desilu Productions" was a Los Angeles, California-based company jointly owned by couple and actors Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. Miramax is the combination of the first names of the parents of the Weinstein brothers. On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, The New York Times crossword included the quip, "How I wish Natalie Portman dated Jacques Cousteau, so I could call them 'Portmanteau'".
Holidays are another example, as in Thanksgivukkah, a portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, 28 November 2013. Chrismukkah is another pop-culture portmanteau neologism popularized by the TV drama The O.C., merging of the holidays of Christianity's Christmas and Judaism's Hanukkah.
In the Disney film Big Hero 6, the film is situated in a fictitious city called "San Fransokyo", which is a portmanteau of two real locations, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Other languages


The French linguistic term :fr:Mot-valise|mot-valise, literally a "suitcase-word", is a relatively recent back-translation from English, attested only since 1970.
Although French of France is regulated by the Académie française, it produced a number of portmanteau words such as franglais or courriel and has used the technique in literature or to create brands: Transilien. A recent portmanteau example is Douzelage. Other examples : japonaiserie and niaiserie ).
French in Canada has a second regulatory body, named the Office québécois de la langue française, an agency of the Government of Quebec, which is independent of the Académie. It tends to produce neologisms to replace anglicisms. It created the portmanteaus courriel from courrier and électronique, and clavardage from clavier and bavardage, for example.

Modern Hebrew

abounds with European mechanisms such as blending: Along with CD, or simply , Hebrew has the blend , which consists of and . Modern Hebrew is full of portmanteau blends, such as the following:
Other blends include the following:
Sometimes the root of the second word is truncated, giving rise to a blend that resembles an acrostic:
A few portmanteaus are in use in modern Irish, for example:
There is a tradition of linguistic purism in Icelandic, and neologisms are frequently created from pre-existing words. For example, Tölva is a portmanteau of tala and völva.


In Indonesian, portmanteaus are often used as both formal and informal acronyms and referrals. Many organizations and government bodies use them for brevity. Journalists often create portmanteaus for particular historical moments. Examples include:
Formal and journalism uses:
Informal uses, for example:
A very common type of portmanteau in Japanese forms one word from the beginnings of two others. The portion of each input word retained is usually two morae, which is tantamount to one kanji in most words written in kanji.
The inputs to the process can be native words, Sino-Japanese words, gairaigo, or combinations thereof. A Sino-Japanese example is the name 東大 for the University of Tokyo, in full 学. With borrowings, typical results are words such as パソコン, meaning personal computer, which despite being formed of English elements does not exist in English; it is a uniquely Japanese contraction of the English personal computer. Another example, Pokémon, is a contracted form of the English words pocket and monsters. A famous example of a blend with mixed sources is karaoke, blending the Japanese word for empty and the Greek word orchestra. The Japanese egg-shaped key chain pet toy fad from the 1990s, Tamagotchi, is a portmanteau combining the two Japanese words tamago, which means "egg", and uotchi "watch". The portmanteau can also be seen as a combination of tamago, "egg", and tomodachi, which means "friend".
Some Anime titles also are portmanteaus, such as Hetalia. It came from Hetare, which means "idiot", and Itaria which means Italy. Another example is Servamp,
which came from the English words Servant and Vampire.


In Brazilian Portuguese, portmanteaus are usually slangs, some of them include:
In European Portuguese, portmanteaus are also used. Some of them include:
Although not very common in Spanish, portmanteaus are finding their way into the language mainly through marketing and media efforts, such as in Mexican Spanish 'cafebrería' from 'cafetería' and 'librería', or Teletón from 'televisión' and 'maratón'. However, it is very frequent in commercial brands of any type, and above all family-owned business. Such usages are prompted by the registering of a distinguishable trademark, but with time, commonly, a specific trademark became the name of the all similar products, like in Cola Cao, a name which is very common to use to refer any similar product.
Other examples:
A somewhat popular example in Spain is the word Gallifante, a portmanteau of Gallo y Elefante. It was the prize on the Spanish version of the children TV show Child's Play that ran on the public television channel La 1 of Televisión Española from 1988 to 1992.

Portmanteau morph

In linguistics, a blend is an amalgamation or fusion of independent lexemes, while a portmanteau or portmanteau morph is a single morph that is analyzed as representing two underlying morphemes. For example, in the Latin word animalis the ending -is is a portmanteau morph because it is used for two morphemes: the singular number and the genitive case. In English two separate morphs are used. Other examples include French a le → /o/, and de le → /dy/.