port·​man·​teau | \ pȯrt-ˈman-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce portmanteau (audio) \
plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux\ pȯrt-​ˈman-​(ˌ)tōz How to pronounce portmanteaux (audio) \

Definition of portmanteau

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large suitcase
2 : a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog)



Definition of portmanteau (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : combining more than one use or quality
2 : being a portmanteau a portmanteau word

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Synonyms for portmanteau

Synonyms: Noun

carry-on, carryall, grip, handbag, holdall [chiefly British], suitcase, traveling bag, wallet

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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


carried her possessions with her in an old portmanteau

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Chris is a sales trainer, a funny portmanteau of Bachelor professions. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "The Bachelorette Season 14 Premiere Recap: Not Gonna Say It," 29 May 2018 Her name is a portmanteau of Van Gogh and Madonna; her true identity is unknown. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "Say It With Art: Get Your Bae The Same Painting Prince Harry Gave Meghan Markle," 7 July 2018 Like Brangelina of yore and the most recent on-again off-again Jelena situation, every A-List celebrity couple has been given a custom portmanteau (a.k.a a joint nickname that combines the letters and sounds of two separate names). Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "So, What Do We Call Ariana Grande & Pete Davidson?," 11 June 2018 Like laze, this portmanteau sews together two words—volcano and smog—to describe the acidic haze that commonly forms due to volcanic emissions. Maya Wei-haas, Smithsonian, "A Brief Glossary of Volcano Vocab," 25 May 2018 Luvi is a portmanteau of his children's names, Lulu and Violet. Todd A. Price, NOLA.com, "Luvi's chef tells a deliciously beautiful story: First look review," 22 May 2018 The experimental town, located in central Arizona in Yavapai County, was designed by architect Paolo Soleri to explore his concept of arcology, a portmanteau of architecture and ecology. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Kelsey Lu Celebrates Her Birthday in Wildly Experimental Ombré," 14 May 2018 The video, tagged with the clever portmanteau #Gloscars, shows six shades of Lidstar Glistening Eye Glow being swatched with a doe-foot applicator. Marci Robin, Allure, "Glossier Launches Lidstar, Its First Metallic Eye Shadow, on the 2018 Oscars Red Carpet," 4 Mar. 2018 The portmanteau referred to a group of celebrity architects who built in signature styles, including the British Norman Foster, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, and most famously, Frank Gehry, who founded his practice in Los Angeles in 1962. Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "From architect to tastemaker, Bjarke Ingels is designing the future.," 2 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'portmanteau.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of portmanteau


1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for portmanteau


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

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Time Traveler for portmanteau

The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553

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Comments on portmanteau

What made you want to look up portmanteau? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to mark by some ceremony or observation

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