Let’s call it practically portmanteau. What is it?
OK, portmanteau combines two real words to make a new one. The word portmanteau actually means “suitcase” in French. It occurs when a couple of words are packed together.
Additional examples include bionic (biological + electronic), brunch (breakfast + lunch), simulcast (simultaneous + broadcast), smog (smoke + fog), and televangelist (television + evangelist).
Often, catching cultural buzzwords arise as portmanteau words. Chillaxing (chilling + relaxing), emoticon (emotion + icon), and ginormous (gigantic + enormous) demonstrate this phenomena.
Still, the most spot-on versions of portmanteau often seem to pop up in kids’ mistaken words.
Maybe you know some children who have unwittingly created their own long-lasting verbages (at least in family usage), simply by mixing up words they think they have heard adults say.
In our family, we have a few of these intriguing terms, which have lasted for generations.
- Funderworks – These are the explosive displays the older members of the family set off on the Fourth of July.
- Kneel socks – This term relates to any stretch stockings that extend all the way up to the knee.
- Meat love – This tried-and-true family recipe features ground beef and certain secret ingredients, fashioned into a loaf and topped with ketchup – tons of ketchup.
- Place maps – This word started with the use of those handy laminated world and USA maps for individual place settings at the family dinner table. The term caught on and has since referred to any sort of place mat, whether it features a map or not.
What wonderful mistaken words has your family added to its own vernacular? And what stories or memories do such terms recall?
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