We at Write and Polish Central were perusing our Twitterfeed today (@WriteandPolish), and noticed followee @SimonPegg use the word "hangry," meaning the quality of being both hungry and angry at the same time (and, the latter *due to* the former). This word, formed out of parts of two others, and so taking on the meaning of both, has come to our attention several times in recent weeks. Mr. W&P has been fingered as one who is susceptible to this malady!
The practice of morphing two words into a single new word is called, officially and, we believe, rather dully, as a "blend." We much prefer the more widely known descriptor, "portmanteau." Author Lewis Carroll coined the term in Through The Looking Glass, as Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice in "Jabberwocky," "Well, 'slithy' means 'lithe and slimy'. 'Lithe is the same word as 'active'. You see, it's like a portmanteau - there are two meanings packed into one word." Similar Carroll creations include 'chortle' (built from 'chuckle' and 'snort') and 'galumph' ('gallop' + 'triumph').
'Portmanteau,' itself, is a portmanteau, from the French verb, to carry, 'porter' and noun, cloak, 'manteau.'
While 'hangry' has yet to become an accepted word on its own, many other portmanteau words have done so:
avionics (aviation + electronics), because (by + cause), brunch (breakfast + lunch), camcorder (camera + recorder), dumbfound (dumb + confound), email (electronic + mail), good-bye (God + be [with] + ye), hassle (haggle + tussle), infomercial (information + commercial), infotainment (information + entertainment), intercom (internal + communication), Internet (international + network), motorcade (motor + cavalcade), sitcom (situation + comedy), spork (spoon + fork)... anything + -verse...and on and on!
As you can see, many, but far from all, of these words came into being as a result of technology. Or, more specifically, they were not all born out of the technology of the last 20-30 years. Technological innovation, whose result is generally new things and processes and ideas, usually means that new words must be created to deal with all that newness. Many will be created whole-cloth. But others will be born from combining two pre-existing terms. One can imagine the invention of 'motorcade,' dated by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to 1913, in response to a technological evolution of nearly a century ago.
A much newer iteration of the creation of portmanteau words is the blending of the names of individuals (celebrities or fictional characters, usually) into a single proper name that refers to the couple as a single entity -- Bennifer (Ben [Affleck] + Jennifer [Lopez]), Brangelina (Brad [Pitt] + Angelina [Jolie]), Skate (Lost's Sawyer + Kate) or Lilden (Lily + Holden from As The World Turns).
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