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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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 One of my biggest concerns was balancing work and vacation, and not tipping the portmanteau scale too far in one direction. Washington Post, "Was a three-week trip to New Orleans for work or vacation? Both.," 12 Feb. 2021 The man died on Wednesday at the age of 70, leaving behind an army of listeners, thousands of hours of content, and a diabolical eight-letter portmanteau. Washington Post, "Rush Limbaugh had a lot to say about feminism. Women learned how to not care.," 19 Feb. 2021 When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to step back from the royal family, The Sun plastered a portmanteau in their sensational headline: MEGXIT. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Meghan Markle and the Persistent Myth of the Manipulative Royal Wife," 9 Mar. 2021 The word 'fappening' is a portmanteau of the words 'fap' (masturbate) and 'happening'. Vicky Spratt, refinery29.com, "My iCloud Was Hacked & I’m Being Harassed By People I’ve Never Met," 11 Jan. 2021 Swiss Professor Richard Dirhofer coined the term ‘Virtopsy’—a portmanteau of ‘virtual’ and ‘autopsy’. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of the Autopsy," 11 Nov. 2020 Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this Droughtlander (that clever portmanteau meaning the period between Outlander seasons) is going to be a long one. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander's Sam Heughan Records a Scottish Folk Tale," 13 Oct. 2020 For guests who don’t want to go home after work, the industry has created the latest portmanteau — the workcation. Washington Post, "Tired of the same old home office? Punch the clock in a hotel guest room.," 8 Oct. 2020 In the 1980s, when Italian wine magnate Piero Antinori invested in Antica, a portmanteau of Antinori and California that also means ancient in Italian, it was seen as a validation of the Cal-Ital movement. SFChronicle.com, "How to get a taste of Italian wine in California," 11 Dec. 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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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