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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)
: a large suitcase
: 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)


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

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.

Example Sentences

Noun carried her possessions with her in an old portmanteau
Recent Examples on the Web
Stagflation – a portmanteau of stagnation and inflation – is when economic activity slows while prices continue rising. Cnn Business, CNN, 7 Oct. 2022 The BioSync suspension—stretchy mesh panels connecting the shoulders to the hipbelt—proved to be more than just cute portmanteau. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, 21 May 2019 Protocol used the portmanteau Monday to describe the climate questions surrounding Ethereum’s imminent Merge, an upgrade in cryptocurrency mining protocols that will render massive amounts of hardware outdated. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 13 Sep. 2022 Though the portmanteau wasn’t seen until the 2000s, the concept of glamping dates to the 16th century. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 11 Sep. 2022 That nickname is a portmanteau of Bombay, a center of filmmaking that is now called Mumbai, and Hollywood. Rajesh Roy, WSJ, 13 Sep. 2022 The word is a portmanteau or a combination of two words — glamorous and camping. Clare Mulroy, USA TODAY, 11 Sep. 2022 Soca, a portmanteau of ‘Soul of Calypso,’ was birthed from a fusion of African and East Indian rhythms. Melissa Noel, Essence, 2 Sep. 2022 Other names for the practice include nibbling, pick-up meal, alchemy, kitchen sink, deja vu and the fun portmanteau, plannedovers. G. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, 21 July 2022
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 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 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553


Dictionary Entries Near portmanteau

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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