What are Portmanteaus?: 10 Popular Examples

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Language is ever-evolving. It can always change, which means that new words may be added to the dictionary. Sometimes, the English language even gets more than a thousand new words in a year! Some of these words can be born out of existing words; examples are portmanteaus (pronounced “port-man-tow”). 

Portmanteaus are literary devices that combine two or more words to form a new word. In this sense, they are similar to compound words, except compound words form a completely different meaning from the words combined. On the other hand, portmanteaus share some meaning from the words that make them. Often, portmanteaus mean two or three words combined. 

To know more about portmanteaus, here are 10 popular examples of them that you will likely encounter in the English language!

Motel

“Motel” is a combination of the words “motor” and “hotel.” Motels are roadside accommodations that primarily cater to motorists or people who temporarily need a place to stay during a long road trip. These hotels are typically designed as a low building with a parking lot directly in front of the rooms. They are also usually located near major highways and roads.

Examples:

After driving for seven hours straight, Joey and Carla stopped at a motel to get some rest.

I was looking for motels along the highway that we could book, and I found this cheap one with a pool!

My dad and I always stay at the same motels whenever we go on our yearly road trip across the country.

Vlog

“Vlog” is a portmanteau made using the words “video” and “blog” or “log.” Vlogs are a type of blog (a medium of sharing that once was mostly written) in video format. Vlogs can be about many different things but are usually focused on one or several narrators on camera.

Examples:

Casey told me to follow this makeup vlog where a lady teaches you tips on properly applying makeup.

I love watching travel vlogs because they make me feel like I am in the place being featured as well.

Vera just bought a new camera and a microphone so she could start her own vlog on YouTube.

Brunch

“Brunch” is a word taken from “breakfast” and “lunch” and is used to describe a meal that happens between the usual times for breakfast and lunch. It is like a late breakfast or an early lunch. At brunch, people often eat breakfast food but in larger quantities (similar to the amount of food one would eat for a full lunch). Brunch also typically allows alcoholic beverages such as mimosas.

Examples:

Perry asked me to have breakfast with him, but I woke up at ten in the morning, so we had brunch instead.

New Yorkers love brunch; as you can see, almost all the restaurants offer that option.

Bree will meet us at 11:00 for brunch at that new Italian restaurant that opened last week.

Screenshot

“Screenshot” is a portmanteau of “screen” and “snapshot.” It is a photo that shows the contents of one’s screen, whether a mobile phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a computer. Screenshots are often taken by the device itself, done by using special commands or buttons programmed into the device’s system. Screenshots are also known as screengrabs, or screen captures.

Examples:

You said that we were meeting at five o’clock, not seven o’clock—I have the screenshots of our conversation to prove it!

I need to take a screenshot of this file so I can send it to my mother later.

My dad asked me how to take a screenshot on his phone, so he could take a photo of the scores from last night’s basketball game.

Netizen

“Netizen” is a combination of the words “Internet” and “citizen” and describes avid users of the Internet. These are active members of different Internet communities who often participate and engage in online discussions.

Examples:

Whenever big news breaks, journalists often look into the reactions of netizens.

Netizens shared their condolences on Twitter after the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Winnie is part of so many online forums that she is a certified netizen!

Rom-com

“Rom-com” is a portmanteau taken from the words “romance” (or “romantic”) and “comedy.” Rom-coms are a sub-genre of comedies (i.e., in movies and television) focused on romance topics. These often tell of funny, lighthearted plots that revolve around love and finish with a happy ending.

Examples:

My top three favorite rom-coms are 50 First Dates, Love, Actually, and When Harry Met Sally.

We decide between watching a horror movie, a sci-fi thriller, or a rom-com for movie night on Friday.

My brother thinks all rom-coms are sappy and corny, so he never watches them with me.

Newscast

A newscast is a medium of broadcasting the news through television, radio, or the Internet. It is a portmanteau of the words “news” and “broadcast.”

Examples:

Terrence only watches newscasts so he can see the weather report.

Listening to newscasts is a great way to learn a language.

Cheryl has always wanted to be a newscaster. She used to pretend that the ingredients listed at the back of her cereal box were a report.

Webinar

“Webinar” is a word created from “web” and “seminar.” It describes live events that are held virtually and broadcasted through conferencing platforms to online audiences.

Examples:

I am attending a webinar about climate change tomorrow afternoon.

Yuna is hosting her first webinar two weeks from now, but she has already begun to prepare her script.

Thomas presented an exciting webinar about penguins.

Gastropub

“Gastropub” is a portmanteau of “gastronomy” and “pub” or “public house.” Gastropubs are like bars, restaurants, and pubs combined. They usually serve food alongside alcoholic drinks and have activities you usually do while drinking, such as pool, darts, or karaoke.

Examples:

Frankie heard that this gastropub has delicious food, but I am more excited about its in-house arcade!

Marty used to shift between a cook and a bartender at his first job at a local gastropub.

Let us grab a bite and a drink at the nearest gastropub before heading home.

Guesstimate

The word “guesstimate” is a combination of “guess” and “estimate.” It can be a noun or a verb, describing an estimated amount (or the act of giving an estimated amount) based on a mix of guesses and calculations. 

Examples:

What is your guesstimate of our budget for this trip?

Can you guesstimate the number of materials we will need for this project?

Reggie said it should take 45 minutes, but I think that was just a guesstimate. It could take longer or shorter.

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author
Jica Simpas is a writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. She has over two years of writing experience in producing travel and food-related content. She is currently exploring new writing ventures to expand her practice.