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) \

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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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 For these portmanteau jokes to work, the reader will have to recognize and be superficially familiar with not only both names, but with how the description applies. Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2021 Fans of the lead characters created the portmanteau Sameena, casting scenes from the movies as Taylor Swift songs. Isaac Feldberg, Vulture, 5 Aug. 2021 After months of experimenting and 10 iterations, the Cronut was born, with the ethereal, fried portmanteau pastry setting off a genuine craze. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 14 July 2021 This was suspect enough in the early aughts, even if Bennifer was the first modern-day celebrity couple to inspire a portmanteau. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 26 July 2021 His father and Lotus’s U.S. distributor coined Biscoff—a portmanteau of biscuit and coffee—as easier on American ears than speculoos, or its Dutch version, speculaas. Daniel Michaels, WSJ, 12 July 2021 Few of these investors spared a thought for Dogecoin’s tokenomics–a portmanteau of token and economics, which encompasses the technical innovation and monetary policy underpinning a cryptocurrency. Martin Leo Rivers, Forbes, 22 June 2021 Combined with Juneteenth -- a portmanteau for June 19th, marking the effective end of slavery in the US in the summer of 1865 -- there are also two holidays within the season that celebrate freedom (in these cases, from tyranny and oppression). David G. Allan, CNN, 19 June 2021 Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and 19th, commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union Maj. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 16 June 2021 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, 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

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

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The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553

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Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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