Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for . . .

Portmanteau words. Such as:

ginormous = gigantic + enormous

jeggings = jeans + leggings

turducken = turkey + duck + chicken

Seems like a lot of these have been coined lately.

For a long list go to Wikipedia, itself a portmanteau word consisting of wiki (a website where users can add, modify, or delete content) + encyclopedia.

I don’t like or dislike portmanteau words in principle, but I love the fact that language is organic and ever changing—new words budding, old ones falling away. In my opinion, dictionaries should mirror word usage rather than proscribe it—unlike Noah Webster’s, which aimed to give us standard “American” English.

My problem with that is: who elected Webster official lexicographer? Fact is, no one did; he was self-appointed, all the while claiming he wanted a language for a “democratic” nation. 

And was it really necessary in the first place for Americans to break away from British” English, especially over trivial matters such as how to spell labour, judgement, or theatre?

Webster’s opus. It rubs me the wrong way, and I therefore dub it frictionary.


  1. I love the very word/term "portmanteau word". Such a history unto itself!
    And I agree about all the Americanization. It caused great confusion (and a few marks off my papers) when I was about eleven and reading mostly British novels. I still use British spelling and punctuation at times (such as the period outside of the quotation marks above).

  2. i've never heard of portmanteau, but I have heard of the other 3 words below it:)
    Happy A-Zing!

  3. LOL. I don't like "fake" words that become official just because they are overused. Yikes.

  4. lol! I actually don't mind made up words. Maybe it's the creative in me ;)

  5. I had no idea there was actually a word for this! I found my word for the day!