From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle French portemanteau (coat stand), from porte (carries, third-person singular present indicative of porter (to carry)) +‎ manteau (coat), literally [that which] carries coat.


portmanteau (plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux)

  1. A large travelling case usually made of leather, and opening into two equal sections.
    Alternative forms: portemanteau, (obsolete) portmantua
    • 1667, Charles Croke, Fortune's Uncertainty:
      Rodolphus therefore finding such an earnest Invitation, embrac'd it with thanks, and with his Servant and Portmanteau, went to Don Juan's; where they first found good Stabling for their Horses, and afterwards as good Provision for themselves.
    • 1859 December 13, Charles Dickens, “The Mortals in the House”, in Charles Dickens, editor, The Haunted House. The Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round [], volume II, London: [] C. Whiting, [], →OCLC, page 7, column 2:
      He brought down with him to our haunted house a little cask of salt beef; for, he is always convinced that all salt beef not of his own pickling, is mere carrion, and invariably, when he goes to London, packs a piece in his portmanteau.
    • 1918 February (date written), Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “Je ne parle pas français”, in Bliss and Other Stories, London: Constable & Company, published 1920, →OCLC, page 71:
      I believe that people are like portmanteaux—packed with certain things, started going, thrown about, tossed away, dumped down, lost and found, half emptied suddenly, or squeezed fatter than ever, until finally the Ultimate Porter swings them on to the Ultimate Train and away they rattle. . . .
  2. (Australia, dated) A schoolbag.
    Synonyms: port, school port
  3. (archaic) A hook on which to hang clothing.

Etymology 2[edit]

First used by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass to describe the words he coined in Jabberwocky.


portmanteau (not comparable)

  1. (attributive, linguistics) Made by combining two (or more) words, stories, etc., in the manner of a linguistic portmanteau.
    • 2002 December 14, Nicholas Lezard, “Spooky tales by the master and friends”, in The Guardian (London), page 30:
      The overall narrator of this portmanteau story - for Dickens co-wrote it with five collaborators on his weekly periodical, All the Year Round - expresses deep, rational scepticism about the whole business of haunting.
    • 2002 December 11, Nick Bradshaw, “One day in September”, in Time Out, page 71:
      We're so bombarded with images, it's a struggle to preserve our imaginations.' In response, he's turned to cinema, commissioning 11 film-makers to contribute to a portmanteau film, entitled '11'09"01' and composed of short films each running 11 minutes, nine seconds and one frame.


portmanteau (plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux)

  1. (linguistics) A portmanteau word.
    Synonyms: blend, frankenword, portmanteau word, portmantologism
    • 1938, Joane Chaffe Miller, Conversion and Fusion in Modern English: A Concise History of the Scholarly Recognition of These Linguistic Processes[1]:
      He found the blend "tomax" in "a collection of gratulatory verses presented by the President and Fellows of Harvard College 1 to the new King, George III," dated 1761. A note by the owner of the volume explains the word as a combination of tomahawk and axe: "It is a portmanteau word, which must have been as clear to the average reader in England of 1761 — as clear to George III himself - as brillig and slithy would have been to us, had not Humpty Dumpty kindly explained them."
    • 1985, Carlos Piera of Cornell University, “On the Representation of Higher Order Complex Words”, in Selected Papers from the XIIIth Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, Chapel Hill, N.C., 24-26 March 1983[2], page 287:
      1. Portmanteau Words and Allomorphy - This paper is primarily concerned with the theoretical implications of what have been called portmanteau words (Hockett, 1947)
  2. A portmanteau film.
    • 2021 July 12, Nicholas Barber, “The French Dispatch: Four stars for Wes Anderson's latest”, in BBC[3]:
      His long-awaited portmanteau, which premiered in Cannes on Monday, is the most Anderson of all Anderson films. It's Anderson distilled, Anderson squared, Anderson to the nth degree.
Derived terms[edit]


portmanteau (third-person singular simple present portmanteaus, present participle portmanteauing, simple past and past participle portmanteaued)

  1. To make a portmanteau word.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]