English is ever-evolving. As new technologies arise, we develop new words to describe them, and each new generation creates new slang terms from old classics.
Portmanteau is one of the many fun ways English adapts.
What’s a Portmanteau?
A portmanteau is a mash-up of two words to create a new word. One of the earliest examples in modern English is “suitcase,” a combination of the words “suit” and “case” that describes a case explicitly used to carry suits.
Here are some of the best modern portmanteaus we use every day!
The mash-up between breakfast and lunch became the go-to meal for casual Sunday afternoon dining.
A frenemy describes a rocky relationship where two people claim to be friends while constantly trying to sabotage each other.
Someone who constantly asks annoying and obvious questions just to get on your nerves. We know they’re doing it on purpose.
Did we need a word for something bigger than gigantic and enormous? The mash-up between the two humungous words describes something so big you can’t even imagine it.
The bain of every journalist’s existence turns lists into articles. It’s an easy, user-friendly format for reporting that works well for online content.
A mash-up of “man” and “explain” describes instances where men attempt to overexplain things to women. It often refers to novice men who try to explain an expert woman’s field to her or when men try to explain simple concepts everyone knows to a woman.
She’s a dork, but it’s so darn adorable. This fun portmanteau describes someone who’s delightfully dorky.
A bromance celebrates platonic love in male friendships. It combines the word “bro” (short for brother) with “romance” to signify the deep bond between friends.
Hangry is the perfect portmanteau we never knew we needed. Most of us get cranky when hungry, and someone finally dared to describe the feeling by combining “hungry” with “angry.”
Hobosexual is a portmanteau that plays off the words we use to describe sexuality. A hobosexual is a hobo who uses romantic relationships to secure living arrangements.
Hobosexuals are typically attracted to whoever will take care of them.
New technology forces us to use new lexicons to describe them. What do you call an icon that’s used to convey emotion? Emoticon seems like the perfect solution.
If you just want to relax and chill out, you’re probably looking to chillax. The slang portmanteau can also be used as a verb, like telling someone to calm down.
Women’s communities created a new portmanteau to describe the emotional meltdowns many men exhibit when things don’t go their way. Combining “man” with “tantrum,” the word expresses the unique anger men display, which may include shouting, screaming, or even punching walls.
Language abounds with portmanteaus. Email, biopic, newscast, blog, motel, and brainiac are all examples of portmanteaus that became common English words. Some of us may not even realize these words are portmanteaus!
The fun thing about a living language is it’s constantly adapting and changing. Maybe “adorkable” will be a common word in 100 years while the root words get lost in the sands of time. Only time will tell, so enjoy the portmanteaus while they’re fresh, and make new ones up for yourself!
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.