Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
April 28th, 2015
Episode 180 of 713 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 28, 2015 is: portmanteau \port-MAN-toh\ noun 1 : a large suitcase 2 : a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms Examples: The word "ginormous" is a portmanteau of "gigantic" and "enormous." " the rumors that the singer [Rihanna] is now dating Leonardo DiCaprio may or may not be true, but they do give the world the portmanteau RihCaprio." Alison Herman, Flavorwire, March 20, 2015 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 portmanteauthere 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.