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:

  • smoke+fog=smog
  • motor+hotel=motel
  • stay+vacation=staycation
  • breakfast+lunch=brunch
  • skirt+shorts=skorts

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).

Portmanteau Activities













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