portmanteau

1 of 2

noun

port·​man·​teau pȯrt-ˈman-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce portmanteau (audio)
plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux pȯrt-ˈman-(ˌ)tōz How to pronounce portmanteau (audio)
1
or portmanteau word plural portmanteau words : a word or part of a word made by combining the spellings and meanings of two or more other words or word parts (such as smog from smoke and fog)
A portmanteau of "costume" and "play," cosplay by definition is the act of dressing up as a fictional character, with many of the costumes you find inspired by video games, film, or TV.Stephanie LaCava
2
: a large suitcase
When the steamboat bumped against the … pilings, the crowd eased back to allow the hands to erect the gangplank and bear trunks and portmanteaux to the dock for passengers to claim.Loren D. Estleman
He bent down and pulled out the heavy portmanteau from under the bed. He opened it and took out a medium-size red bag …Helon Habila

portmanteau

2 of 2

adjective

: combining more than one element, use, or quality
As a book, it is essentially a portmanteau collection of aspects of martial life that caught Holmes's eye during his career.James Owen
The building of the embankment was a portmanteau scheme, defending valuable building land against high tides, providing space for sewers below, and for carriages and pedestrians above.Hermione Hobhouse
… the portmanteau character "Corporal Jones", an unlikely composite …Dale Clarke
The new work from Wes Anderson, "The French Dispatch," is a portmanteau film. That is to say, it contains a number of narratives—in this instance, four—that are neatly packed together, as if inside a suitcase.Anthony Lane
see also portmanteau word sense 1

Did you know?

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Alice asks Humpty Dumpty to explain words from the nonsense poem "Jabberwocky" and is told that slithy is "like a portmanteau-there are two meanings packed up into one word." Although slithy hasn't caught on (it's made up of slimy and lithe, according to Humpty Dumpty), another portmanteau invented by Carroll has in fact found a place in the language: chortle (supposedly from chuckle and snort). English includes other portmanteaus, too, such as brunch (breakfast and lunch) and dramedy (drama and comedy). Following Carroll's lead, English speakers have come to call these fairly common words by the not-so-common name for a type of traveling bag with two compartments. The technical (and simpler) term for such words is blend.

Examples of portmanteau in a Sentence

Noun carried her possessions with her in an old portmanteau
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Education leaders say embracing ebonics, a portmanteau of the words ebony and phonics that refers to the African American vernacular, could encourage literacy among Black students. Ruth Umoh, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2024 Since Dominique Ansel’s 2013 croissant-doughnut invention went viral, the portmanteau croissant crossbreeding hasn’t stopped. Laurie Ochoa, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2024 The Vultures album, attributed to ¥$ — a portmanteau of Ye and $ — will come out in waves, if West (never the most reliable source for Kanye info) is to be believed, with the first volume arriving Friday. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 7 Feb. 2024 In the 19th century, a portmanteau was a kind of suitcase made of stiff leather and divided into two equal parts. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Oct. 2023 The cinematic portmanteau sprang from the same-day release of the two very different but highly touted films. Jeremy Childs, Los Angeles Times, 8 Dec. 2023 The portmanteau film is a witty exploration of contemporary love stories via an AirBnB rental. John Bleasdale, Variety, 18 Nov. 2023 From the ephemeral to the essential, portmanteaus demonstrate English speakers' creativity and love of wordplay. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Oct. 2023 The title is a portmanteau of 2 Chainz’ hometown (College Park, Georgia) and Wayne’s hometown (Hollygrove, Louisiana). Hattie Lindert, Pitchfork, 20 Oct. 2023
Adjective
So many of the words created our dozens of neologism contests over the decades are portmanteau words, the combination of two words. Washington Post, 18 July 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'portmanteau.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle French portemanteau, from porter to carry + manteau mantle, from Latin mantellum — more at port

First Known Use

Noun

1553, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective

1909, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553

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Dictionary Entries Near portmanteau

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

portmanteau

noun
port·​man·​teau
pōrt-ˈman-tō,
pȯrt-
plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux
-tōz
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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