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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)
or portmanteau word plural portmanteau words : a word or part of a word made by combining the spellings and meanings of two or more other words or word parts (such as smog from smoke and fog)
A portmanteau of "costume" and "play," cosplay by definition is the act of dressing up as a fictional character, with many of the costumes you find inspired by video games, film, or TV.Stephanie LaCava
: a large suitcase
When the steamboat bumped against the … pilings, the crowd eased back to allow the hands to erect the gangplank and bear trunks and portmanteaux to the dock for passengers to claim.Loren D. Estleman
He bent down and pulled out the heavy portmanteau from under the bed. He opened it and took out a medium-size red bag …Helon Habila


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: combining more than one element, use, or quality
As a book, it is essentially a portmanteau collection of aspects of martial life that caught Holmes's eye during his career.James Owen
The building of the embankment was a portmanteau scheme, defending valuable building land against high tides, providing space for sewers below, and for carriages and pedestrians above.Hermione Hobhouse
… the portmanteau character "Corporal Jones", an unlikely composite …Dale Clarke
The new work from Wes Anderson, "The French Dispatch," is a portmanteau film. That is to say, it contains a number of narratives—in this instance, four—that are neatly packed together, as if inside a suitcase.Anthony Lane
see also portmanteau word sense 1

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
Sprinkled through the portmanteau of shorts are stars including Sammi Cheng, Liu Kuan-ting, Lee Sin-je, Kuo Shu-yau, Stephy Tang, Tsai Chen-nan, Ethan Juan, Karena Lam, Sandrine Pinna, Karim Leklou, Lin Ju, Caitlin Fang and Chen Shu-fang. Patrick Frater, Variety, 29 Aug. 2023 The town crafted the portmanteau name Anaheim — Ana for the river, and Heim, the German word for home. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 10 Aug. 2023 Channeling Vuitton’s very first flat trunk, a hard case introduced in the 1850s, the vibrant polychrome necklace pictured here features subtle portmanteau motifs throughout. Jenny Hartman, wsj.com, 19 Apr. 2023 To grab the bakery’s breakfast, lunch or the espresso macchiato ($3.75 to go, $4.50 dine-in) that goes well with the dessert, be sure to stop by before 2 p.m. The shop’s name, a portmanteau of éclairs and macarons, is an ode to owner Toni Srour’s favorite desserts. Samantha Chery, Washington Post, 31 July 2023 Cosplay — a Japanese portmanteau of the words costume and play — is a style of performance art where people create outfits that pay homage to their favorite characters from comic books, television shows and movies. Lauren J. Mapp, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2023 Commentators have given the American public the portmanteau words Nixonomics, Carternomics, Reaganomics, Clintonomics, Bushonomics, Obamanomics. Josh Boak, Fortune, 3 July 2023 The minimony — the portmanteau of mini and ceremony —still dominates the bridal blogosphere, and hundreds of companies have cropped up to cater to tiny gatherings. SPORTS ‘All the feels’: How WNBA players and teams handle hardship contracts. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2023 Its name, BrahMos, is a portmanteau of the Brahmaputra River in India and the Moskva River in Russia, which began jointly developing the missile after the fall of the Soviet Union. Karishma Mehrotra, Washington Post, 20 June 2023
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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'portmanteau.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 2


1909, in the meaning defined above

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 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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