Lucy Vickery

Mixing it | 9 November 2017

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In Competition No. 3023 you were invited to submit cringeworthy portmanteau words.

The word portmanteau was first used in this sense by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass when Humpty Dumpty is explaining ‘Jabberwocky’ to Alice: ‘Well, “slithy” means “lithe and slimy”… You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.’

There’s nothing wrong with new words, of course. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter of 1820 to John Adams: ‘I am a friend to neology. It is the only way to give to a language copiousness and euphony.’ The best, most enduring portmanteaus are witty, pithy and fill a gap (‘brunch’, ‘metrosexual’, ‘workaholic’). But the worst are forced, silly and impenetrable — masstige? Shanter? Nope, me neither — and, thanks to social media, they seem to be coming at us at an ever-increasing rate (‘We have, I think it’s fair to say,’ wrote Andy Bodle somewhat optimistically in the Guardian in February of last year, ‘reached peakmanteau.’)

There was an element of masochism on my part in this challenge — and, given the lowish turnout and murmurings of discontent (G.M. Davis appended a single, heartfelt ‘meh’ to his entry), it seems that perhaps you shared my misgivings. Hats off, then, to the troupers below whose sterling efforts earn them £6 for each coinage printed.

Blottolenghi: state of looking for rare ingredients while drunk.

Demitasshole: pretentious espresso drinker.

Arthuritis: addiction to the poetry of Rimbaud

Brexitement: pathological tremors created by fear and uncertainty.

Narcoticissism: deluded self-admiration under the influence of drugs.

Womblebrag: faux-modest smugness of environmentalists in SW19.

Basil Ransome-Davies

 Splatnav: an accident caused by mindlessly following the instruction of a GPS device.

Bogost: compost formed from uneaten remains of buy-one-get-one-free offers that have spent too long in the salad drawer.

A.H. Harker

Lavatar: a stylised male or female figure on the outer door of a rest-room.

Frank Upton

Testiculation: a remark punctuated by grabbing one’s crotch.

FedExcrement: the incremental stages by which a package delivery goes completely wrong.

Frank Osen

Reduvenation: replacing eiderdown of one season with one of another; adjusting tog factor.

Homentum: radical interior design and living focus group, intent on hymning the domestic.

Bill Greenwell

Corbyfuge: softly spoken reasonable man stratagem.

Sanctimoney: human rights lawyers’ fees.

J.R. Johnson

Gratisfaction: the feeling of wellbeing as you contemplate the second, free, item of your BOGOF purchase at the local supermarket.

Brian Murdoch

Trollification: the glee that results from successfully shouting down an unpopular truth.

Patellaphantiasis: a medical symptom characterized by swollen knees.

Tardishwasher: a dishwasher that holds much more than it looks like it will from the outside.

Robert Schechter

Blurbivore: one who consumes only the covers of books.

Adrian Fry 

Refab: a refurbished wartime bungalow. These system-built structures were conceived as temporary dwellings but have far outlasted their expected lifespan. Currently rebranded, and appropriately priced, as ‘des res bijouettes’.

Mike Morrison 

Wellnesstician: someone who does for health something similar to what a beautician does for beauty (e. g., a physiotherapist).

Carolyn Beckingham

Shamburger: a burger made with some godforsaken meat substitute.

Tracy Davidson

No 3026: double dactyl

You are invited to submit a topical double dactyl. A double dactyl is a poem of two quatrains, of which the last line of the first rhymes with the last line of the second. All the lines except the rhyming ones, which are truncated, are composed of two dactylic feet. The first line of the first stanza is a double dactylic nonsense line (e.g., higgledy-piggledy/jiggery-pokery). The second must be a double dactylic name. At least one line of the second stanza (ideally the antepenultimate one) must be one double dactylic line that is one word long, e.g., ‘va-le-dic-tor-i-an’. Please email entries to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 22 November.