What's in a Word | All Blogs


‘Suitcase’ words

By Debra Dobbins

Since today is International Literacy Day, I was pleased to see a front-page story on Sarah Palin’s coinage of a new word: refudiate. It’s a blend of refute and repudiate. You may read the story in our print edition or e-edition to get the definitions of both words.

The article goes on to give more examples of blends, such as splatter (splash and spatter). Here are several of my favorites:

smog   - (sm)oke and f(og)
snazzy - (sn)appy and j(azzy)
brunch - (br)eakfast and l(unch)

Lewis Carroll, author of “Jabberwocky,” Adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, gave us these:

slithy    -   (sli)m(y) and li(th)e
chortle -   (ch)uck(le) and sn(ort)
snark   -   (sn)ake and sh(ark)

These words are sometimes called portmanteau words. A portmanteau is a type of suitcase that folds in and has two separate sides to it.

But, what’s in a name? Whether they are termed blends or portmanteau words, they demonstrate how adaptable, and often delightful, the English language really is.
 

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