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 fact that this unexpected portmanteau also managed to fill our bellies, and produce enough leftovers to feed us for many chilly nights to come, made it all the more enjoyable. Amiel Stanek, Bon Appétit, "French Onion…Beef Noodle Soup?," 5 Mar. 2020 Recent studies have found that contrails (a portmanteau of condensation and trails) may contribute as much as or more than all flights to the warming of the planet. Alex Davies, Wired, "Plane Contrails Have a Surprising Effect on Global Warming," 2 Mar. 2020 The long history of COINTELPRO, a portmanteau derived from COunter INTELligence PROgrams, is relevant to the computational propaganda campaigns of today. The Economist, "Digital disinformation is destroying society but we can fight back," 17 Jan. 2020 But many have kept it simple and just posted the picture with its revolting portmanteau of a caption. Washington Post, "It’s almost Halloween, and ‘feetloaf’ is already giving us nightmares," 24 Oct. 2019 The game theorist Julian Küchlich even coined a portmanteau, playbor, to describe the fusion of work and leisure in contemporary life. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Video Games Are Better Without Game-Play," 22 Oct. 2019 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 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

21 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 28 Mar. 2020.

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