Portmanteau words are a common occurrence in the English language. They’re formed when you take two words and smash them together to make a brand new one – typically losing a few letters off one or both.
There are hundreds of a real life examples across a range of areas. Words like motel (motor + hotel), sitcom (situation comedy), infomercial (information + commercial), email (electronic mail), blog (web log) and cronut (croissant + doughnut). Celebrity spotters also love a good portmanteau – think Brangelina or Kimye. They’re everywhere!
In fact, they’re so much fun that we thought we’d invent some new ones, complete with their meanings. A complete alphabet’s worth! Enjoy…
The sandwich that you make immediately after you’ve eaten the first sandwich, because you loved it so much and want to recreate the same taste sensation. (It’s never as good though.)
That cafe worker who takes their craft extremely seriously. Usually seen looking down their nose at anyone who dares to sully their cold-dripped, filtered, single-origin Ecuadorian espresso shot (with a hint of caramel and burnt fig) by ordering a frothy cappuccino with sprinkles on top. For them, the smaller the coffee cup, the bigger the status.
The length of time between wolfing down that cooking chocolate you found at the back of the pantry and it having a positive effect on your writing. Times can range from 12 seconds to never.
The term given to those sometimes magical, sometimes frustrating, sometimes productively procrastinatory hours between lunch and dinner that you have set aside to work on your manuscript.
When you announce to the room that you really need to address something that you believe everyone is also thinking, only to discover that no one else sees it as an issue. Rather than an elephant in the room, it’s an elephantom. (Coming to a comic book store near you!)
The period of time – from late 2013 to mid 2014 – where you couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a Frozen-themed product or hearing Let it Go on the radio. Some even resorted to verbal abuse to stop their own children singing the song. (But the “scold” never bothered them anyway…)
In your youth, you and your friends would practise for hours in your garage to get that elusive record deal, nowadays it’s the only place in your house you get decent WiFi.
Measuring the quality of your work up against that of a famous author. Not recommended.
The study of the way people speak different on the phone to how they normally speak in everyday life. Mothers with young children are particularly good at switching into their phone voice at a moment’s notice.
The study of how people communicate when they are thinking about 10 other things at the same time or are listening to multiple people speaking at once. Typically occurs in gatherings of multiple females. (Meanwhile, males are more likely to take part in either “tacklinguistics” or “CameronLing-uistics” – a series of monosyllabic grunts while watching footy.)
The wave of panic at seeing too many articles about celebrities who haven’t actually done anything of note, but continue to dominate magazine covers and web stories.
Trying to get some writing done on public transport but just feeling queasy instead. Most sufferers give up and play games on their smartphone.
When a statement swims in insincerity due to the clumsy, near-sighted absurdity of creaking metaphors used. It reeks of desperation.
Difficulty in sticking to your novel writing targets because you regularly come unstuck on plot points, character anomalies and dodgy timelines.
The act of waiting for the right job to come along. Some people have been known to wait occupatiently for a role that never presents itself. (If writing is that role, don’t be occupatient – chase it down!)
A special solidarity amongst women who support each other while persisting (often against all odds) at a certain task. This may be attempting to get a book published, losing unwanted kilos or even waiting together at a stage door for a celebrity to appear.
The unmistakable brown stains from spilling hot beverages on your keyboard – often the result of Laughing Out Loud at something funny you read in the AWC newsletter. You keep meaning to get round to cleaning it, but the keys aren’t that sticky. (Well, the Z key gets stuck occasionally, but you’d be amazzzzed if that affected things too much.)
Something stupid and seemingly out of character.
When you assume that “spell-check” will show up all your eras without checking for any reel words that may have snuck inn, that’s when you’ve bean “spell-chequed”. Never mined – just be moor careful next thyme.
When one theatre group spies on another, usually when they’re both putting on the same play and want to observe the handling of a tricky dance number/stage direction/set change dilemma. (Or perhaps they just simply need to know that they ARE more faaaabulous…)
When your stomach sets outs its demands for the night ahead. Your brain may often recoil in horror, but these are your tummy’s terms. Because, ice cream.
A big book that a courtroom judge or group of jurors may use to decide if someone is guilty or not. That’s clearly where you get the expression “the judge threw the book at him”.
A very real phenomenon experienced by the world’s bloggers or small business owners (typically using the platform WordPress) as they struggle to select the PERFECT theme to launch them into a new phase of their site. After spending an intense Saturday evening installing 504 themes, the individual will often end up back at the second one they found.
What you have when a photocopier sits alongside a shredding machine.
It all starts out like a normal, productive Tuesday. You click a link to a harmless video, and watch it. Then you think “hey, maybe I’ll watch this other one.” And then, “that actually reminds me of that TV show I used to watch when I was eight – what was the theme tune to it?” Before you know it, you have spent an entire day on a YouTube binge. You’ve even stopped clicking SKIP AD and now just check out those videos too. Warning: it doesn’t even have to be a Tuesday. In fact, Friday or Saturday evenings are particularly dangerous.
Similar to a zeitgeist (the defining mood of a period of time), this is more vague – only giving a gist of the period of history you’re trying to describe. “It was a time of hats – and people wore them” is an example of someone capturing the “zeitgist”. Another example would be: “TVs and computers were a thing” or “people walked places”. As long as one gets a rough gist of the general time and place, then congratulations my friend – you’ve just captured the zeitgist. “It was a decade where people liked books…”
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