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Portmanteau words are formed by combining elements of two or more words. A part of each word is combined with part of another word or words to form a new word.

E.g. Motel = motorist + hotel

Though similar to contractions, it is different from English contractions in which words that come one after the other are shortened using an apostrophe (‘).


E.g. could not = couldn’t, do not = don’t

In case of portmanteau words, two different words are related to form a new word with a new concept. This is again different from compound words. In compound words two different words are placed together to form a new word.

Compound words

E.g. blackboard, handbag, ice-cream, snowball, hailstorm

Origin of Portmanteau words

Portmanteau words were first introduced by Lewis Carroll in ‘Through the looking glass’ where Humpty Dumpty explains the meanings of freshly coined words like mimsy = miserable + flimsy, silthy = slimy + lithe.

Examples of Portmanteau words

Bacne = back + acne – pimples on ones back.

Biopic = biography + picture – a film on the life of a particular person, typically a public or historical figure.

Brexit = Britain + exit – withdrawal of United Kingdom from the European Union.

Brunch = breakfast + lunch – a combination of breakfast and lunch.

Bollywood = Bombay + Hollywood – Film industry in Mumbai.

Blaxploitation = black + exploitation – an ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film that emerged in the United States during the early 1970s.

Blushing = blood + rushing – red in face from embarrassment or shyness.

Chillax = chill + relax – to calm down.

Chortle = chuckle + snort – laugh in a noisy gleeful manner.

Cosplay = costume + role play – the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book.

Dramedy = drama + comedy – a comedy having dramatic moments.

Edutainment = education + entertainment – video games and T.V. programmes which are educational and enjoyable.

Electrocute = Electric + execute – injure or kill someone by electric shock.

Fantabulous = fantastic + fabulous – excellent.

Foryo = frozen + yogurt – a frozen dessert made of yogurt.

Frankenfood = Frankenstein + food – genetically modified food

Frenemy = friend + enemy – a friend who acts like an enemy

Ginormous = gigantic + enormous – very big, huge

Hangry = hunger + angry – one who is angry due to hunger.

Horrendous = horrible + tremendous – extremely horrifying and unpleasant.

Infomercial = information + commercial – an advertisement aimed at educating the customer 

Interrobang = interrogation + bang – a combination of question mark and exclamation mark. One on top of the other.

Jangle = jingle + dangle – sound made when metals hit against each other.

Mockumentary = mockery + documentary – a short film that spoofs the documentary form.

Moped = motor + pedal – light motorcycle with engine capacity less than 50 cc

Never = not + ever – not in past present or future.

Newscast = news + broadcast – broadcasting of news in television or radio.

Podcast = iPod + broadcast – a recording of audio or video that can be downloaded from the net.

Prequel = previous + sequel – a work that forms part of a back-story to the preceding work

Screenager = screen + teenager – a teenager obsessed with screen entertainment.

Shopaholic = shop + alcoholic – one who is addicted to shopping.

Sitcom = situational + comedy – situations made into comedic stories lasting for about 30 minutes.

Smog = smoke + fog – a fog made heavier and darker by smoke and chemical fumes

Spork = spoon + fork – a spoon with fork like edge.

Telethon = television + marathon – a very long television programme.

Wikipedia = wiki + encyclopedia – online encyclopedia made by collaborative efforts.


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