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For other uses, see Portmanteau (disambiguation).

A portmanteau (Listen/pɔrtˈmænt/, /ˌpɔrtmænˈt/; plural /ˌpɔrtmænˈtz/ portmanteaus or portmanteaux) or portmanteau word, also called a blend in linguistics, is a combination of taking parts (but not all) of two (or more) words or their sounds (morphemes) and their meanings into a single new word. The word comes from the English term "portmanteau luggage" for a piece of luggage with two compartments, itself derived from the French portemanteau (from porter [to carry] and manteau [coat]). Nowadays these terms are false friends as the French term has since evolved to mean a coat rack, while the English term still refers to the specialised piece of luggage. (In the past, the French term also referred to a suitcase or bag for clothes.)

A portmanteau word fuses both the sounds and the meanings of its components, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph which represents two or more morphemes.

An arguably humorous synonym for "portmanteau word" (in the sense of "blend") is frankenword, itself an example of the very phenomenon it describes (i. e., an autological word), blending "Frankenstein" and "word".

The definition overlaps with the grammatical term contraction, but a distinction can be made between a portmanteau and a contraction by noting that contractions are formed from words that would otherwise appear together in sequence, such as do and not, whereas a portmanteau word is formed by combining two or more existing words that all relate to a singular concept which the portmanteau describes. Portmanteau should also be distinguished from compounds, which do not involve the truncation of parts of the stems of the blended words. For instance, starfish is a compound, not a portmanteau, of star and fish (a hypothetical portmanteau of these words might be stish).


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