Portmanteaus: Vocab Mash-Ups

Portmanteaus are pieced together from the body parts of other words. And while these creative compounds aren’t as frightening as Frankenstein’s monster, you can still see the stitching.

Check out the full article on Frankenwords: The Mashed-Up Madness of Portmenteaus

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definitions & notes only words
  1. bionic
    applying physiological principles to engineering systems
    I was fitted with the arm a few months later, and aged 13, became the youngest person in the world with a bionic arm.The Guardian (Nov 15, 2018)
  2. blog
    an online journal where people post about their experiences
    Pascal left comments below the YouTube video and on music blogs, touting his father’s long career and asking if anyone knew about the song’s origins.The New Yorker (Aug 23, 2019)
    In some ways, blogs feel as old as cave paintings, but this is still a newish word that was first spotted in 1999. Combining web and log, blog became a trendy word for your uncle’s online diary of Grateful Dead concerts or your grandmother’s internet reviews of antique swords. Or whatever grandmothers are into. Twitter, which has become much more popular since the early days of blogs, is a microblog. Maybe someday communication will get even more concise and we’ll get nanoblogs.
  3. chortle
    a soft partly suppressed laugh
    We’re on firmer ground with more recent examples: chortle was first used in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.The Guardian (May 31, 2017)
    This is one of many fanciful coinages of author Lewis Carroll, first appearing in a neologism-filled passage from 1871’s Through the Looking Glass. It's easy to see the similarity to chuckle and snort, but whether or not Carroll sewed those words together, he came up with the perfect word for a short, nasal laugh — often a laugh you’re trying to stifle.
  4. cyborg
    a person whose body is partially mechanical
    Anticipating our future cyborg selves, some contemporary artists construct mixed-media pieces in which body parts meld with mechanical or electronic devices.Washington Post (Aug 1, 2019)
    If you’re a fan of science fiction, you’re probably familiar with cyborgs: part-human, part-mechanical folks. The ingredients of this term, which has been around since 1960, are cybernetic and organism. While cyborgs are often seen wreaking havoc (or saving the day) in sci-fi, technically, some people are cyborgs, since many of us are enhanced by technology, from pacemakers to hearing aids to artificial legs. In the future, we might all be cyborgs, and it could be a good thing.
  5. dumbfounded
    as if rendered speechless with astonishment and surprise
    We’ve all been there, staring dumbfounded at a rainbow wall of paint chips wondering where to start.Seattle Times (Feb 6, 2019)
    Dumbfound is dumb plus confound minus con, and the meaning is similar to confound. When you’re confounded or dumbfounded, you can’t figure out what’s going on. When you dumbfound someone, you befuddle them. Being dumbfounded is a lot more than being confused. A dumbfounding turn of events makes your head spin and boggles your mind.
  6. flounder
    behave awkwardly or with difficulty
    “I’m asking you to try working for a change. At your age I was working hard, not floundering around in a fool’s dream world.”The Pigman
  7. fortnight
    a period of fourteen consecutive days
    Over the next fortnight at Wimbledon we will see how far their talent takes them.The Guardian (Jun 30, 2019)
  8. glitz
    extravagant showiness that is tasteless or superficial
    The weekend event was full of glamour and glitz, with contestants sporting elaborate regional costumes and heavy makeup.Seattle Times (Jul 28, 2019)
  9. happenstance
    an accidental event that seems to have been arranged
    It was just happenstance, and perhaps the cool weather that day, he said, which meant the door wasn’t wide open as usual.Washington Times (Mar 27, 2019)
    When something happens in a certain circumstance for no discernible reason — perhaps by luck, good, bad, or dumb—you can call it a happenstance. It’s a solid alternative to coincidence. Besides being a noun, happenstance does double duty as an adjective. When something happens by chance, you can describe it as happenstance.
  10. meld
    mix or become mixed together
    Mermaiding felt like a meld of dancing liberated from the particulars of technique and swimming removed from the rigidity of form.Washington Post (Aug 13, 2019)
    Like the origin of so many words, the birth of meld isn’t definitive. But a pretty good guess is that it’s a mix of melt and weld, two other words that suggest things being broken down and put together in a new way. Lots of stuff can be melded: two companies merging, two folks marrying, or two dog breeding, à la the puggle (a mix of pug and beagle).
  11. motorcade
    a procession of people traveling in vehicles
    His motorcade passed through barricaded streets on his way to the heavily secured summit site, as some residents looked on from windows overhead.Fox News (Aug 24, 2019)
  12. smoggy
    clouded with a mixture of haze and polluted air
    The picture is very atmospheric, full of scenes of smoggy city streets clogged with traffic and teeming with humanity.Seattle Times (Mar 12, 2019)
    Smoggy is the adjective form of smog, a classic word blend and pretty much perfect word, combining smoke and fog, just like how smoke and fog combine, regrettably for our lungs, to create smog. Smog has been found in English since at least 1905.
Created on August 6, 2019 (updated August 28, 2019)

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