A portmanteau is a large travelling bag that opens in two equal sections and is used for carrying clothes and other personal items. It is a French word derived from the root word ‘port’ meaning ‘to carry’ and ‘manteau’ meaning ‘cloak’.
Portmanteau has a second completely different meaning. It is a word created by blending a part of two existing words to form a new word. Some examples:
Lewis Carroll introduced this second meaning of portmanteau in his book Through the Looking-Glass (1871) where he created words like ‘slithy’ by combining ‘slimy+lithe’ and ‘mimsy’ by combining ‘miserable+flimsy’. He then used these words in the poem Jabberwocky.
A portmanteau is different to a compound word which is two whole words blended together (e.g., star+fish=starfish).
- You might like to share this video with your students to explain the concept: https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/yt6p4ffzdp
- List of portmanteau words: https://web.archive.org/web/20120505055915/http://users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/portmant.htm
- A lesson plan with lots of activities based around the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll: https://www.brighthubeducation.com/middle-school-english-lessons/66271-jabberwocky-creative-writing-lesson-plan/
- Ask your students to create their own portmanteaus. These words can then easily be turned into a Bingo game. Students write their portmanteau onto a piece of card. The two words making the portmanteau are written in two different squares on a bingo board.