[Ads-l] Question About Portmanteau Words

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 21 02:41:35 UTC 2015

WB: Who gets into the portmanteau club?
     As a student, I launched the protologism <zipping>. I created ("It is
ALIVE!") the semantic
extension of to <zip> & <unzip> (which I borrowed from computerese), to
describe the spectrum
of degrees of lexical/graphical compression. E.g. the 21-letter+3-space
<United States of
America> can be "zipped" to a six-character <U.S.A.>, four-character
<U.S.>, three-character
<USA>, or two-character <US>. Conversely, <US> is unzipped by the reader as
<United States of
America>. Weighing in the balance are efficiency of expression vs. pushing
the envelope of intelligility.
     Portmanteau-ing is a subclass of zipping. Some define it as a short
haircut: the completely
unzipped word can be visible to neither naked eye nor sensitive ear: zip it
up! (These are the
grammar Nazis): <newscast> No! <smog> Si! Others take a more liberal view,
allowing full lexical exposure to a component.
     Wikipedia, s.v. <portmanteau> weighs in on the side of "Yes, you can!"
say <newscast> is a portmanteau:
<<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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list