More for the "bro-" files: "brony"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Jan 9 00:43:17 UTC 2012

On Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 12:02 AM, Neal Whitman wrote:
> My son told me about "bronies", i.e. grown male fans of My Little Pony. More
> information at:
> I find the portmanteau "brony" interesting because in words like "bromance"
> (and in most other portmanteau and compound nouns) the second element is the
> head: A bromance is a kind of romance; a motel is a kind of hotel. In
> contrast, a brony is not a kind of pony, but a kind of bro.

There was some discussion of "brony" on Language Log, since it was a
nominee in the WOTY voting (ultimately winning in the Most Unnecessary
category). This comment is of interest, since it turns out a "brony"
*is* a kind of "pony", in the relevant subculture:

[Greg D:] I'm pretty sure "pony" is the head of "brony". In the My
Little Pony universe, the characters say things like "everypony" and
"anypony" and "nopony" instead of the standard English equivalents,
and bronies (such as myself) when speaking with each other about the
show will often do the same thing. On various blogs and podcasts
dedicated to the fandom, the audience will often be addressed
something like "all the ponies out there reading/listening".
"Brony" means "pony who is a bro"–and that, as well as I understand
it, is actually what bronies mean to say when they use it.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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