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For the uninitiated, portmanteaus (or ‘portmanteaux’) are words which combine the sounds and meanings of two words. For example, motel (a combination of motor and hotel) or brunch (a combination of breakfast and lunch). Whilst browsing a list of different portmanteaus and blends, I noticed a number of words that I use fairly regularly, and […]more
Alice Day is an annual celebration held on 4 July to mark the anniversary of the ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematics tutor at Christ Church, Oxford, took Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating picnic up the river Thames. During the trip he amused the sisters by telling the […]more
In the 2004 film Mean Girls, high school queen bee Regina George famously chastises one of her minions for using a slang term she has invented (fetch, meaning ‘cool’): Gretchen: That is so fetch! Regina: Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen! One of the reasons this scene resonates is […]more
So how exactly did an abbreviation of brother became a word-forming dynamo? For most of its existence in English, the word bro led a quiet and unassuming life. For centuries, it was merely a graphic abbreviation of brother (properly bro.), occasionally put to colloquial use, like sis, to refer to a person’s male sibling. It wasn’t […]more
The language of music has never been more nimble. With fusion genres like nu metal, trip hop, acid jazz, and synthpop having emerged over the last thirty years or so, it’s no surprise that our music vocabulary has expanded. And since we here at the OxfordWords blog love our portmanteaus, it only seems right to […]more
Let’s go glamping. Oh, wait, don’t know what I’m talking about? Vogue introduced glamping – a portmanteau of ‘glamorous’ + ‘camping’ that came into use in the mid 2000s – into the high fashion lexicon in October of 2011 with its suggestion to go pitch a tent and sleep in the woods, decked out in […]more