The Portmanteau

I love to play around with language, so it should be no surprise that one of my favorite features of the English language is the portmanteau. This is when you combine two words and create a new, shorter way to express the idea.

An easy example of this is brunch. Breakfast + Lunch = Brunch.

More often than not, a portmanteau will be used in casual speech as slang for a short time and then fade from usage; however, some portmanteaus (or portmanteaux) stick and become “official” words in the dictionary.  Below you will find a list of some of the more fun portmanteaus that you can use in your casual spoken English.

*Disclaimer – These are still slang, so don’t use these in your academic or formal writing!

Technology

  • cell and computerTextpectation (text + expectation) noun – The feeling when you are waiting for someone to reply to a text.
    Example: Oh my God. This textpectation is killing me! I texted her four hours ago! Why is she not getting back to me?!
  • Unkeyboardinated (uncoordinated + keyboard) adjective – Describing someone who makes frequent typing errors.
    Example: I guess tha tI am a litlle unkeyboardinated .,
  • Screenager (screen + teenagernoun – A young person or teenager who is good at using computers and technology. A member of the newer generation that cannot live without their cellphones and tablets.
    Example: Grandma doesn’t know how to use her email. We had better get one of those screenagers from next door to help.
  • Nonversation (non + conversation) noun – A conversation that is completely unimportant or contains no real information.
    Example: The two girls were deep in an online nonversation about which Youtube kitten video was “like, totally the cutest”.

Food

  • cat-hangryHangry (hungry + angryadjective – Describes someone who is grumpy or unpleasant while they are hungry.
    Example: Please don’t blame me for what I said when I was hangry.
  • Locavore (local + vorenoun – Vore comes from the latin word vorare to devour, and so this means to eat locally grown food.
    Example: In an attempt to reduce her carbon footprint, Mary decided to become a locavore.
  • Flexitarian (flexible + vegetarian) noun – A vegetarian who sometimes eats meat or is not very strict about their diet.
    Example: She was really more of a flexitarian than a vegetarian, because she couldn’t quite quit eating bacon.

Travel

  • glampingGlamping (glamorous + campingnoun – Luxury camping, where everything is very comfortable and set up.
    Example: She went on a glamping trip in the Adirondacks, and didn’t have to do anything! There was staff there to do everything for her.
  • Staycation (stay at home + vacationnoun – Spending vacation time at home, rather than going on a trip

Style and Lifestyle

  • Jeggings (jeans + leggingsnoun – Pants that are actually leggings, but made to look like they are made of jeans fabric.
    Example: Don’t wear your jeggings today! It is so cold out that you should probably wear real pants.
  • Manscaping (man + landscapingnoun – The upkeep of a man’s facial and body hair.
    Example: That man hairy man could use a little manscaping.frenemy
  • Frenemy (friend + enemynoun – A person who is a superficial friend in person, but says hurtful things when apart.
    Example: A lot of women in Hollywood pretend to be frenemies to attract media attention and publicity.
  • Chillax (chill + relaxverb – To relax or hang out.
    Example: What are you up to? Oh, nothing, just chillaxing at my place.

As you can see, there are a lot of different portmanteaus out there. Some of these up above will stay in use, and some may fade out, but in the meanwhile, it is fun to play around with them. Try making some of your own blended portmanteaus and let me know in the comments.

Questions?

Ask me in the Comments Form or book a class with me to practice your English!