11 words you perhaps didn’t know were portmanteaus
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 I had no idea they were formed from two different words. As a result, I thought it would be nice to summarize some of these in a list.
This word’s roots have so far been traced back to the 1970s, as a blend of the words endogenous and morphine. It means ‘any group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions’.
Oxford Dictionaries has found evidence that this word comes from Swedish, with its earliest example cited in the 1950s. It is a roughly translated and abbreviated version of the phrase ‘trampcykel med motor och pedaler’ which means ‘pedal cycle with motor and pedals’. The word ‘moped’ is assumed to have taken both its parts from motor and pedal.
Made famous for its use as a warfare weapon, this word takes its name from two of the ingredients required to make it. Napthenic acid from crude oil and palmitic acid from coconut oil.
Comprised of the words modulator and demodulator, two devices named after the actions they carry out. A modem does both of these things in order to send and receive data.
A great word to describe the shocking moments that amaze or astonish, this word is, rather unsurprisingly, made up of the words dumb and confound.
The earliest noted example of this word is in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. It is assumed that it was made from a blend of chuckle and snort. It was a popular word used in the Beano magazines when a character would try to hide their laughter.
This word has many different definitions, but it is assumed that it was made from a blend of bang and smash.
A great word, meaning ‘to pester’ as a verb, or ‘an irritating inconvenience’ in its noun form, it was probably made from a combination of haggle and tussle.
Usually meaning a kind of flag, this word was made from a blend of pendant and pennon. In this instance, our research suggests that ‘pennon’ was used to mean the same thing, before it evolved into ‘pennant’.
Well known for its purpose in the development of male sexual characteristics, this word is rather unusual in the sense that it has made use of three words. It is a blend of testis, sterol, and ketone.
A popular German blue cheese, and one of my favourites. This cheese is named by using parts of the names camembert and gorgonzola, as it shares textures, flavours, and aesthetics with both of these cheeses.
Have you found out about any portmanteaux that you found surprising? Or any others that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below.