“Merkozy” – A new portmanteau

A “portmanteau” is a new word formed by joining two other words and combining their meaning.

Some common “portmanteaus” used in everyday English are:

    brunch – a combination of breakfast and lunch, usually eaten late morning.
    smog – a type of air pollution made up of smoke and fog
    Spanglish – when a person speaks a mix of both Spanish and English
    emoticon – an icon that shows an emotion i.e smiley face

One of my favourite new “portmanteaus” which I read yesterday in a British newspaper is:

“Merkozy” – the scary combination of the German chancelor Angela Merkel and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy.




And the plural?

As the word “portmanteau” clearly comes form the French language (it’s Franglais!), there is a bit of a debate about its plural form. If we follow the English rules, it becomes “portmanteaus”. However, if we keep the word in its original French form it becomes “portmanteaux”. Both forms are accepted in English.

Why not leave a comment below with your favourite “portmateau”? Even better, invent your own new “portmanteau” and tell us about it.

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3 Responses to ““Merkozy” – A new portmanteau”

  1. SteveDecember 11, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    My favourite portmanteaux is “spork”, which is a piece of cutlery that doubles as a fork and a spoon.

    In his excellent book, The Unfolding of Language, Guy Deutscher refers to a child who called a three pronged fork a “threek”, the child having originally believed that the word “fork” had something to do with the number 4.

    I think that we have an innate ability to understand and use Portmanteaux which can be fantastically evocative. They are a blend of words that blend two ideas. Merkozy is a brilliant one!

  2. Pablo RuanoMay 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Let me dust off this fantastic post by introducing two new, so called “pormateaux”:
    The first one is “freemium”, a term coined by venture capitalist Fred Wilson to describe one of today’s most common Web business models. In this model a premium version of a site or software pays for the use of a free version with less features. A good example is the streaming music service Spotify, in which the cost of a free, poorly ad-supported version that offers limited music streaming, is funded by a monthly paid subscription that offers unlimited, ad-free music streaming.
    The second one is “feebate”, the result of joining the words “fee” and “rebate”. This term refers to a goverment’s program designed to shift the cost of some externalities to those who provoke them. Fore example, imposing a fee on new high carbon emitting vehicles and then rebating the fee to buyers of low emission vehicles, thereby shifting the cost of global warming onto those who contribute to it.

  3. Samuel PalinJuly 13, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    I came here on the back of ‘karaoke’, which is a portmanteau of the Japanese characters kara (empty) and ōkesutora (orchestra) – rather beautiful.

    My favourite portmanteau is probably ‘chillax’, because of its sheer redundancy. The two words are synonyms.

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