The nice thing about language is that it changes to reflect the times. The Internet has spawned lots of funny English words. Sometimes we also coin our own words and phrases for new things. Most of these new words are portmanteaus, which is the term that describes a word that’s constructed by taking some parts of two words, and making a new one. This is also known as a blend in linguistics.
Probably the best known portmanteau words are Brangelina, derived from the names of celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Brexit (Britain’s exit from the European Union). But, did you know that the word smog is also a portmanteau (smoke and fog)? Brunch (breakfast and lunch) is another one that has recently reached a status of an everyday word. In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name. Similarly Eurasia is a portmanteau of Europe and Asia.
Many company or brand names are portmanteaus, including Microsoft, a portmanteau of microcomputer and software; passenger rail company Amtrak, a portmanteau of America and track; Renault’s Twingo (a combination of twist, swing and tango), and Garmin (portmanteau of company founders’ first names Gary Burrell and Min Kao).
While advising our students on their academic path we often use Oxbridge, which is a common portmanteau for the UK’s two oldest universities, those of Oxford and Cambridge.
Many of these new words come from urbandictionary.com, a website dedicated to user submitted definitions of new words, or are just neologisms (relatively recent or isolated terms, words, or phrases that may be in the process of entering common use, but that have not yet been fully accepted).
One of our favorite slang words is “hangry.” If you get cranky or angry when you need to eat, then you definitely know what this portmanteau feels like. Check out below some more funny new words we like. How about you, any portmanteaus or slang words you like or that you have created?