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12 Comments

  • My favourite is “spork”, a handy little thing to have with you when camping/going for long walks and you don’t want to carry to much with you.

  • Oh, I love ‘floordrobe’! It definitely fills a lexical gap in our house. I wonder if there is a version of it for books left lying around? My personal favourite is ‘framily’ – and why? Because it so efficiently packs ‘friends and family’ into one word.

  • I’ve already had one bite, but Kerry’s contribution reminded me of a different use of the suffix -arian.

    So can I make a bid for ‘austeritarian’ (=austerity + authoritarian) to describe, say, the EU’s current attitude to Greece? ‘Austeritarianism’ is no doubt practised by ‘banksters’ (thanks Michael), but not on themselves of course, only other people.

  • Kati – I have heard the little shelf of books that some people keep in their toilet described as a ‘loobrary’, which is rather neat.

    Oh, and I’ve just remembered the ‘Brumbrella’, the huge covering used to protect the Edgbaston cricket pitch (in Birmingham) from rain in the 80s and 90s. From Birmingham’s nickname ‘Brum’ + ‘umbrella’.

  • Love the idea of the Brumbrella, Andrew. I think a lot of successful portmanteau words owe their success partly to the oral/aural pleasure they give, in addition to their neat encapsulation of a useful thing or idea.

    John, Kati: Austeritarian seems to me like a better bet than austerian because it’s more immediately decodable (whereas an Austerian could be a follower of the writer Paul Auster). At the moment austerian, coined by the financial analyst Rob Parenteau, is ahead, both on Google and in the enTenTen corpus (where it’s beating austeritarian by three citations to love.) I suspect we may be seeing more of both terms as events in the Eurozone unfold.

  • Thank you for the fantabulous suggestions Timothy and Andrew! Floordrobe, bookstorm and loobrary have officially entered our household’s vocabulary!

    And I agree with you Liz: my money is also on austeritarian. I expect a few more ‘xit’ words to come along too to join Grexit and Brexit/Brixit.

  • I’ve come to actually start using “hangry” in daily life, despite generally avoiding vogue new words on cantankerous principle.

    I have two rules for good portmanteaus. (1) I like both elements to be clearly visible in the result – merely using the first consonant of the first word does not a good portmanteau make. (2) is that the new word must genuinely be a common thing in the world that needed a name, whether it’s something that existed since time immemorial (hangriness, brunch) or something new (cranapple juice).

    By negative example, the kind of portmanteau I hate is “felfie”, a self-conscious and totally transparent farce of a word. Is a farmer selfie really–really?–a thing? And when you look at “felfie” without knowing what it is, does the “farmer” jump out at you? No and no.

    By contrast, the overlap of “angry” and “hungry” — the unusual series “ngry” — gives both elements a clear place in the sun. And hangry is something I feel two or three times a day. It’s not so clever as to be useless – it’s actually more a case of “why didn’t someone come up with that ages ago?”

    So “hangry” it is! Now, off to lunch.

  • Kati, Liz

    Yes, ‘austerian’ is clearly winning the Google Fight, but the two words needn’t be in direct competition. From the Google hits, it appears that ‘austeritarian’ is carving out a niche as a term of critique on the left whereas ‘austerian’ is much less obviously polemical – and there seems to be some red herring(?) about an Austrian School of Economics.

    The opposite end of the economic spectrum is represented by another portmanteau word: the now (sadly dated) doctrine of ‘Butskellism’ based on full employment policies and a strong welfare state. For younger readers, Butler (Tory Chancellor in the 1950s) + Gaitskell (his Labour opposite number).

    On a completely different note, this one, from a recent Private Eye, made me chortle:

    http://twicsy.com/i/SnMZnh

    John