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Mar 25, 2009This week's theme
This week's words
Alice & Humpty Dumpty
Art: John Tenniel
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A.Word.A.Daywith Anu Garg
PRONUNCIATION:(port-MAN-to, -TOH, PORT-)
1. A word coined by blending two or more words.
2. A case opening in two parts, used for carrying clothes while traveling.
ETYMOLOGY:From French portemanteau, from porter (to carry) + manteau (coat, mantle).
NOTES:Originally a portmanteau was a court official who carried the robes of a king. Since a portmanteau had two hinged compartments, Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a blended word in his book Through the Looking-Glass (1871). While explaining the poem Jabberwocky, Humpty Dumpty tells Alice:
"Well, 'slithy' means 'lithe and slimy'. 'Lithe' is the same as 'active'. You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word."
Some everyday portmanteaux are brunch (breakfast + lunch), smog (smoke + fog), and motel (motor + hotel). Some more examples are adultescent, bumbershoot, mingy.
USAGE:"Montreal's annual Fantasia Film Festival has come a long way since its beginnings in 1996. A portmanteau of 'fantasy' and 'Asia', the festival's name once reflected the programmers' focus."
Al Kratina; Fantasia's Past is Present on DVD; Montreal Gazette (Canada); Jul 4, 2008.
See more usage examples of portmanteau in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:There are two ways of being happy: We may either diminish our wants or augment our means -- either will do -- the result in the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle or sick or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means. If you are active and prosperous or young and in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are very wise you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society. -Benjamin Franklin, statesman, author, and inventor (1706-1790)
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