Saturday, April 01, 2006


A portmanteau is a word coined by Lewis Carroll to describe a word that is a blend of two other words. Examples include:

  • breathalyser: breath + analyser
  • Chunnel: Channel + tunnel
  • emoticon: emotion + icon
  • televangelist: television + evangelist

Of course, my favorite is gerrymander, a combination of "Gerry" and "salamander".

These type of words come to mind after reading the Letters section of New Scientist, where it was pointed out that "velcro" is such a word. I had always assumed it was an abbreviation or an acronym, but strangely enough, it's a portmanteau word, derived from the French no less:

[f. F. vel(ours cro(ché hooked velvet.]

Who said French wasn't a vital, modern language?


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