Thursday, February 18, 2010


Tim and I have a great passion for a well-made portmanteau. For those of you who are not linguistic nerds, a portmanteau is a word that is made by combining two other words. Some common examples are chocoholic (chocolate + alcoholic) and ginormous (gigantic + enormous).

The quest for golden portmanteaux has become so ingrained into our lives that we habitually create them as part of our everyday conversation. We're always trying them on for size, looking for one that has that special ring. Here is a typical conversation from our newlywed days:

Tim: Would the most powerful of all the potatoes be called the potentato?
Erin: Oh, that's a good portmanteau!
Tim: ...Portmantato!

Here are a few of my favorites that we've collected over the years:

Manpoo (man + shampoo) - shampoo for men

Tabernannequin (tabernacle + mannequin) - a mannequin found in a phone booth (building on the fact that the Feast of Booths is also sometimes translated as the Feast of Tabernacles)...and yes, there is such a thing as a tabernannequin; there was one permanently stationed in someone's front yard in Knoxville

Gripples (grip + nipples) - those little rubber dots on the bottom of things like laptop computers, which keep the equipment from sliding around

Fauxtatoes (faux + potatoes) - a diet food that looks like mashed potatoes but is actually made of pureed cauliflower

I encourage you to make the creation of portmanteaux a part of your daily routine. I think you will find it most fulfilling.

I would love to hear any original portmanteaux that you have heard or created, or that you can make up on the spot!

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