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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


About a month ago, I came across the term "portmanteau", in reference to a word.  I wasn't sure what it meant, so I looked it up on Dictionary.com.  A portmanteau [pawrt-man-toh] word is one that is "composed of parts of two or more words, such as 'chortle'  from chuckle and snort and 'motel' from motor and hotel.  The term was first used by Lewis Carroll to describe many of the unusual words in his Through the Looking-Glass (1871), particularly in the poem Jabberwocky."

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

~ from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll*

Not long after learning the word I noticed it again, this time on a friend's blog.  She was talking about a room in her house that is a portmanteau, meaning that the room has more than one use.  We have one of those in our own house, and we actually use a portmanteau word for the room when talking about it.  (I guess I was using portmanteaus before I even knew what they were!)  Our room holds my scrapbooking desk and supplies on one side and another desk with the family computer, scanner, and printer on the other.  For years now, we've referred to it as the scraputer room.  (scrapbook + computer = scraputer)

I decided to try making up a few more portmanteau words.  Here's what I came up with:

skip + jump = skump

The little girl went skumping down the sidewalk, 
her pigtails bouncing in rhythm.

mumble + whisper = mumper

The elderly man spoke in a mumper 
and I could barely hear his words.

orange + yellow = oralow

We drove past a parking lot filled with 
oralow school buses and I was reminded of fall.

Have you ever made up your own portmanteau word?  If not, give it a try!  It's fun! :)

*Note: To watch an entertaining recitation of Jabberwocky, check out this one from author and editor Renee LaTulippe on her blog, No Water River: The Picture Book and Poetry Place.  (You will find many videos of other poem recitations, by LaTulippe and several other poets, on her blog as well.  I highly recommend taking a look!)  And then there's my favorite rendition of the famous poem -- performed by the Muppets -- seen here on YouTube.

(Psst... if you haven't read about the Big Blue Birthday Contest yet, please check out this post.)

1 comment:

  1. This is kind of a fun thing to know! I'm sure my family & I have made up our own portmantaeu words before but wouldn't you know I can't think of any right off the top of my head at the moment!