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May 12, 2014
This week's theme
Blend words

This week's words

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with Anu Garg

Traditionally, women wear engagement rings, but men are also getting into the act. A ring signals "I'm taken." So why not put a ring on men as well? In many cultures it's common for both parties to wear it.

It's been called a mangagement ring, by a blend of man + engagement. Blending is a useful way to name things (vitamin: vital + amine), places (Mexicali: Mexico + California), ideas (sitcom: situational + comedy), companies (Groupon: group + coupon), and more. Even the word alphabet is a blend of alpha + beta, the first two letters of the Greek aphabet.

Is the idea of a mangagement ring a real phenomenon or one promoted by jewelers to expand their market? Time will tell. But the term mangagement ring is not going anywhere. The marriage of the words man and engagement appears doomed. Even if the idea of a mangagement ring catches on, it'd probably still be known as an engagement ring. After all, the wedding ring on a man is not called a "man wedding ring" or a "manding ring".

This week we'll look at five terms coined by blending that are still going strong.



1. A medical facility for people with infectious diseases.
2. A building or ship used for quarantine.
3. On a ship, a space between decks used as storage.

From Italian lazzaretto, a blend of lazzaro + Nazareto. Lazzaro is the Italian version of the name Lazarus, the name of a beggar covered in sores as described in the New Testament (Luke 16:20). Nazareto was the nickname of a hospital, after Santa Maria di Nazareth, the name of the Church on the island where it was located. Earliest documented use: 1549.

"During times of epidemic, the government established a lazaretto on the neutral ground."
Jason Musteen; Nelson's Refuge; Naval Institute Press; 2011.

"The Council House was a frame building, away from the rest, that had been built in the old, wilder days as a lazaretto for surly drunks."
Kurt Vonnegut; Player Piano; Charles Scribner's Sons; 1952.

See more usage examples of lazaretto in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun. -Katharine Hepburn, actress (1907-2003)

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