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

Synonyms for portmanteau

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 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 More:Juneteenth festivities in Milwaukee will be a celebration of freedom but also an opportunity to educate Juneteenth, a portmanteau of June and the date of the 19th, commemorates when the last remaining slaves were freed in the United States. La Risa R. Lynch, Journal Sentinel, 20 June 2022 The winery was the first to use the word Meritage — a portmanteau of merit and heritage — on its Bordeaux-style red wines. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 The term is a portmanteau of oligarch and siloviki, a Russian word for the country’s military and security elite. John Hyatt, Forbes, 14 Mar. 2022 In between public displays of French kissing and a multitude of designer fittings, Fox even christened herself and Ye with their very own portmanteau. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 7 Feb. 2022 Peneloise — Bridgerton viewers' favorite platonic portmanteau — is seemingly no more. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 26 Mar. 2022 Only the Puerto Rican superstar himself could get away with naming his farewell full-length with a portmanteau as cocksure as Legendaddy, a title fittingly in line with his perception of himself (with respect to Don Omar) as the King of Reggaeton. Gary Suarez, Rolling Stone, 24 Mar. 2022 The name is a portmanteau of its main ingredients: bananas and toffee pudding. Casey Barber, CNN, 14 Mar. 2022 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 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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best travel products of the year.

Learn More About portmanteau

Time Traveler for portmanteau

Time Traveler

The first known use of portmanteau was in 1553

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About portmanteau

Dictionary Entries Near portmanteau



portmanteau word

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for portmanteau

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Portmanteau.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/portmanteau. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!