A frappuccino is a frappé cappuccino
This and other portmanteaus in English
Have you ever heard of portmanteau words? They are also known as frankenwords (yes, from Frankenstein) and they refer to new words that are formed by combining two or more words into one. The catch is, only part of these words or certain sounds that make the word are mixed into one. Otherwise they would be called compound words.
For example, the word brunch is one of the first portmanteaus recorded in dictionaries. It comes, as you might know already, from a combination of the words breakfast and lunch and it refers to a meal that is neither one of these two, but rather, something in between. People eat brunch when they haven’t had breakfast yet but they crave something more substantial, that in the end also substitutes their lunch. And it’s not the only portmanteau referring to food. There are plenty of others like cheeseburger (from cheese and hamburger), frappuccino (from the cold drink called frappe and cappuccino) or, something that was invented fairly recently but a big hit among foodies, a combination between a croissant and a doughnut called a cronut.
There are plenty of examples in English and the list is only getting longer as there are many words invented by the younger generations or that have been created as a result of recent events. We all know Brexit came to be after Britain decided to exit the EU or that in the United States the healthcare created by Obama is called Obamacare. In the list below, we’ve chosen to share with you some of these words, basically the most frequently used ones.
Motel = motor + hotel
Smog = fog + smoke
Motorcycle = motorized + bicycle
Cheeseburger = cheese + hamburger
Muppet = marionette + puppet
Seascape = sea + landscape
Frappuccino = frappé + cappuccino
Brunch = breakfast + lunch
Interpol= international + police
Cyborg= cybernetic + organism
Sitcom = situation + comedy
Cronut = croissant + doughnut
Moped = motor + pedal
Anklet = ankle + bracelet
Happenstance = happening + circumstance
Snark = snide + remark
Telemarketing = telephone + marketing
Newscast = news + broadcast
Brexit = Britain + exit
Obamacare = Obama + healthcare
Even more interesting however, is the story of how these words became known as portmanteaus. Originally, the word portmanteau came from French and it referred to a suitcase that revealed two equal compartments when opened. The first one who used portmanteau to refer to these types of words was Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland. In his book Through the Looking-Glass, the character Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice that just like the suitcase, there are words that pack two other words inside, like “mimsy”, something Carroll invented and that was supposed to describe being both miserable and flimsy.
English speakers enjoy using these types of words as well as perpetually creating new ones. And thanks to Lewis Carroll we all have the perfect word that describes them, portmanteau. If you found this article as fascinating as we did, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and read more about this topic in the future.