Lucy Vickery

Mixing it | 9 November 2017

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.

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