Are you familiar with the word “Portmanteau?” In short, it refers to a word that is formed by combining two separate words together. It is likely that you use portmanteaus daily, but just don’t realize it. One example would be the word “spork,” which describes a utensil that is a cross between a spoon and a fork. Once you understand the definition, you’ll start to understand just how many portmanteaus have become part of our everyday language. Have you ever had brunch (breakfast and lunch)? Stayed in a motel (motor and hotel)? Discussed a bromance (brother and romance)? Watched a romcom (romance and comedy)? Or laughed at a mockumentary (mock and documentary)?
Portmanteaus are particularly common in the online world. The most obvious example is the email (electronic and mail). And we all must deal with adware (advertising and software) or malware (malicious and software) when browsing online. In the world of online casinos, anyone who has played slots or bingo online may have come across a game called “Slingo” (slots and bingo). As the name suggests, the game is a mix of video slots with the traditional game of bingo. Players spin the reels like a slot machine to reveal numbers and symbols that can be crossed off a bingo card on the same screen.
Slingo is not the first casino game with a portmanteau name. When US horse racing tracks were facing falling revenues in the 1990s, they combined with casinos to create “racinos” (racetrack and casino). These venues featured slot machines and table games such as blackjack, roulette, and poker. The game of poker is full of portmanteaus. In Texas Hold ’em, a pair of cards featuring an ace and a three is known as a “thrace,” while a king and a ten is known as a “ken.” A king and eight is called a “kate,” while a king and a four is referred to as a “core.”
The name of the software company Ubisoft is also a portmanteau. Founded in 1986 by the Guillemot brothers in France, the name combines the words ubiquitous and software. Ubisoft has developed some of the best-known games in the industry. More famously Microsoft got its name by combining the words microcomputer and software.
Other well-known portmanteaus in the world of technology include cyborg (cybernetics and organism), animatronics (animation and electronics), bionic (biology and electronic), bit (binary and digit), pixel (picture and element), blog (web and log), and vlog (video and log). Before emojis took over our online chats, we used emoticons (emotion + icon). And many of us may have attended a webinar (web + seminar). One of the most popular portmanteaus in use right now is the word “metaverse”.It was first used in the 1992 science fiction novel, Snow Crash, written by American writer Neal Stephenson. It is a portmanteau of “meta” and “universe.”
Many people make up their own portmanteaus to describe aspects of their own lives. For example, if someone is angry because they are hungry, they might say they are “hangry.” Think about it, you’ve probably got a few of your own.