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

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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

Noun carried her possessions with her in an old portmanteau
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The portmanteau refers to more than the 52-year-old actress’s high-profile roles. Carina Chocano, Town & Country, "Laura Dern Is Stepping Into Her Power," 23 Oct. 2019 Pitch a tent at one of the many campgrounds or cozy up in a hillside yurt at Treebones, which has been offering glamorous camping since well before someone coined the clever portmanteau. Sarah Feldberg, SFChronicle.com, "How to do Big Sur the right way," 3 July 2019 Juneteenth, a portmanteau of the date June 19, recognizes the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, effectively ending the practice in the United States. Trevor Fraser, orlandosentinel.com, "Juneteenth a reason to celebrate in Orlando and Kissimmee," 12 June 2019 Mayochup, a portmanteau of mayonnaise and ketchup, means something decidedly less tasty, or tasteful for that matter, in a dialect of the language spoken by the Cree, a large First Nations group. Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Holy mayo! Heinz's new condiment Mayochup includes a bad word," 4 June 2019 One of his most lasting contributions to design was the concept of tensegrity, a portmanteau of tensional integrity. Popular Mechanics, "The Squishy Robots That Could Save the World," 13 May 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: 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, "Style Conversational Week 1341: Greetings from our wits’ den," 18 July 2019 So many of the words created our dozens of neologism contests over the decades are portmanteau words, the combination of two words. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1341: Greetings from our wits’ den," 18 July 2019

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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The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 13 December 2019.

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


easily led, controlled, or managed

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