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What are Portmanteau Words?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
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Portmanteau words, also called blended words or simply portmanteaux, are words that are formed by splicing or merging two other words together. The term portmanteau words comes from Chapter Six of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, in which the character Humpty Dumpty, in explaining the meaning of the word slithy in the poem "Jabberwocky", says: “Well, slithy means 'lithe and slimy.' Lithe is the same as 'active.' You see it's like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word." This is a double joke: first, a portmanteau is a suitcase, in which one would “pack” things, like the multiple meanings within portmanteau words; second, portmanteau is itself a compound word, similar to portmanteau words, in that it is from the French words for "carry" – porter – and "cloak" – manteau.

Portmanteau words have been invented for many different areas of life:


  • Bombay + Hollywood = Bollywood
  • Brad (Pitt) + Angelina (Jolie) = Brangelina
  • cyberspace + magazine = cyberzine
  • education + entertainment = edutainment
  • fan + magazine = fanzine
  • glitter + literati = glitterati


  • Channel + Tunnel = Chunnel
  • Oxford + Cambridge = Oxbridge
  • North (of) + Little Italy = NoLIta (area of New York City)
  • South (of) + Houston (Street) = SoHo (area of New York City)
  • Triangle + Below + Canal (Street) = TriBeCa (area of New York City)


  • smoke + fog = smog


  • talk + marathon = talkathon
  • telephone + marathon = telethon


  • medical + care = Medicare
  • parachute + troops = paratroops


  • beef + buffalo = beefalo
  • breakfast + lunch = brunch
  • clam + tomato = Clamato
  • plum + apricot = pluot
  • tangerine + pomelo = tangelo


  • cafeteria + auditorium = cafetorium
  • motor + hotel = motel


  • gigantic + enormous = ginormous
  • man + fantastic = mantastic

Technological Equipment

  • camera + recorder = camcorder
  • breath + analyzer = breathalyzer

Internet Use

Many words related to blogging and other modern technology usage are portmanteau words:

  • web + log = blog
  • iPod + broadcasting = podcasting
  • blog + broadcast = blogcast
  • blog + spam advertising (or) marketing = blam
  • blog + beg (for contributions) = bleg
  • blog + biosphere = blogosphere
  • fake + blog = flog
  • mobile (generated) + blog = moblog
  • forage + video (on the Internet) = vorage
  • school (friends) + Google = Schoogle
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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for Language & Humanities, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By pistachios — On Jul 20, 2010

Portmanteau words are used to describe various sections of Mobile, Alabama. Midtown Mobile is often abbreviated as MiMo (midtown + mobile). LoDa describes the area of the city that South Dauphin Street cuts through (Lower + Dauphin = LoDa). WeMo is a portmanteau used to describe West Mobile (West + Mobile = WeMo).

By USBcable — On Jul 20, 2010

Target often carries a fruit that has a Portmanteau name. The grapple is a combination of the words "grape" and "apple." This type of fruit is particularly interesting as it looks like a typical red apple but has the flavor of a grape.

By rockyraccoon — On Jul 20, 2010

A very popular Portmanteau used on television and magazines is "Bromance."

This word is used to describe guy friends who are extremely close and spend large amounts of time together.

The word is essentially Brothers + Romance = Bromance. While the word seems to imply some sort of homosexual relationship, in pop culture it a term for two or more male best friends. A good example of a "bromance" can be witnessed on the show "Entourage."

By anon72481 — On Mar 23, 2010

another common one is the combined genre of pop and rock music: poprock or prock.

By anon39446 — On Aug 01, 2009

A Portmanteau not listed but used here in the South is "Prooming" -

Pet + Grooming = Prooming.

More and more widely used since more people are treating their pets

like members of the family.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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