Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 27 03:27:41 UTC 2008

My daughter writes:

New word alert**

I'm watching "Top Chef," an elimination reality show on Bravo, and
there was just a commercial for a show, "Make Me A Supermodel," where
there was speculation over a potential romance between two men on the
show- a "bromance"! I thought you would get a kick out of it if you
haven't heard it before, but I just googled it and it looked pretty
popular (41,000 hits), so I'm probably too late.

In checking the first few of these 41,000 I find myself directed to
urbandictionary.com, where the thumbs-up contributors make it clear
that for them, the blend denotes not a *romance* romance, but the
'complicated love and affection shared by two straight males'.
According to one contributor:

Provenance/Origin: "Bromance" is a portmanteau of the two words
"brother" and "romance". Originally coined by author/editor Dave
Carnie in "Big Brother Magazine." Big Brother was a sort of R rated
skateboarding/skate culture magazine that was eventually purchased by
Larry Flynt's Hustler conglomerate and consequently taken out of
circulation due to unsatisfactory sales performance. Carnie used the
word on several occasions to describe relationships between
skate-buddies who spent a lot of time together and/or shared hotel
rooms on every tour/skate road ===============

I have no idea whether the skateboarder derivation is accurate, and
in any case I assume "bro" + "romance" is a plausible source, since
the guys (dudes?) involved probably call each other "bro".  Posters
to urbandictionary who claim "bromance" can be used for actual
romances or sexual relationships (as in "Brokeback Mountain is the
best bromance movie of all time") get mostly thumbs down from the
judges.  (Maybe whoever posted the above thought that the "bro" in
bromance was from Brokeback rather than from...bro?)

When I was trying to think of other blends/portmanteaux we've
discussed here that combine the 'man' with a stem, or possibly a
'bro-' as in the current case, or (I'm sure there are a bunch of
these) just an initial 'm-', all I could remember was "manzeer"
(a.k.a. "bro", for a male brassiere, from the Seinfeld episode).  I
know there are a bunch of other cases, especially for cases in which
the male protagonist is somehow marked, like 'male nurse/prostitute'
or the more recent 'male masseuse' [sic], only involving just the m-
of man/male instead of the full phrase or compound.  Can anyone help
fill in my blank?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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