I recently read an article in which the word satisficing was used. The word intrigued me. According to the author, satisficing is a combination of sufficing and satisfying.

This led me to investigate if there were other words that were made by combining the sounds and meanings of two existing words. I learned that such a composite word is called a portmanteau. I also discovered that there are many portmanteaus that we use on a daily basis, frequently without realizing that’s what they are.

A portmanteau is typically defined as a large trunk or suitcase that opens into two equal parts. However, Lewis Carroll gave it a new meaning in his book, Through the Looking Glass, when he had Humpty Dumpty say: “Well, ‘slithy’ means “lithe and slimy” and ‘mimsy’ is “flimsy and miserable”. You see it’s like a portmanteau-there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

Some portmanteau words are very familiar and easy to deconstruct:

Backronym: back + acronym

Breathalyzer: breath + analyzer

Brexit: Britain + exit

Camcorder: camera + recorder

Caplet: capsule + tablet

Glamping: glamorous + camping

Infomercial: information + commercial

Infotainment: information + entertainment

Inscape: interior + landscape

Internet: international + network

Malware: malicious + software

Manscaping: man + landscaping

Meld: melt + weld

Motel: motor + hotel

Motorcycle: motorized + bicycle

Netflix: internet + flicks

Palimony: partner + alimony

Pluot: plum + apricot

Simulcast: simultaneous + broadcast

Sitcom: situational + comedy

Tween: teen + between

Wikipedia: wiki + encyclopedia

Some portmanteau words are unfamiliar, but they are still relatively easy to deconstruct:

Affluenza: affluent + influenza

Anticipointment: anticipation + disappointment

Prequiem: preemptive + requiem

Screenager: screen + teenager

Some words are very familiar, but their contributing terms may be surprising- at least, they surprised me. For example, I never knew that the word blog is composed of web and log.

Bit: binary + digit

Chortle: chuckle + snort

Cyborg: cybernetics + organism

Endorphin: endogenous + morphine

Fortnight: fourteen + nights

Gainsay: against + say

Garmin: Garry Burrell + Min Kao

Gerrymander: Gerry + salamander

Goodbye: God + be (with) + ye

Groupon: group + coupon

Hassle: haggle + tussle

Humongous: huge + monstrous

Ineptitude: inept + attitude

Microsoft: microcomputer + software

Modem: modulation + demodulation

Muppet: marionette + puppet

Pixel: picture + element

Prissy: prim + sissy

Skype: sky + peer-to-peer

Smog: smoke + fog

Taxicab: taximeter + cabriolet

Travelogue: travel + monologue

Vitamin: vita + amine

WiFi: wireless + fidelity

There were some words I’ve never seen before. For example, I live in Wisconsin, where we get a lot of snow and ice, and I’ve never heard this word used in any weather forecast, snice: snow and ice.

Ambigram: ambiguous + gram

Automagically: automatic + magically

Flexitarian: vegetarian + flexible

Mizzle: mist + drizzle

Sporgery: spam + forgery

Stagflation: stagnation + inflation

And some words seem like malapropisms when we hear them for the first time, but they are actually real words; for example, refudiate: repudiate + refute.

It really makes me wonder who originally coined these words, why they felt the need to create them, and how they were so darn clever!



Source by Deborah Laurel