I’m currently reading How Picturebooks Work by Maria Nikolajeva and Carole Scott – no, not as a bit of light reading, but actually for grad school – and came across this word today:
in this sentence: “Tenniel also chose to illustrate such verbal images as the Mock Turtle, and nonsensical portmanteau constructions such as Rocking-horse-fly and Bread-and-butter-fly” (213). What a neat word, I thought to myself, I wonder what it means. One of the reasons I wondered that is because, (besides being slightly obsessed with anything Alice in Wonderland-related), to me it seemed like one of those words that originally meant one thing, but over time had come to have all sorts of other meanings, and was being used in one of those secondary meaning ways in this very passage.
And wouldn’t you know it? I was right.
Definition: 1. a case or bag to carry clothing in while traveling, esp. a leather trunk or suitcase that opens into two halves; 2. a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)
But it gets better!
I did a basic Google search for images, and the most amazing things popped up, one of which was this blog named Willy-nilly! At least one of you out there knows of my affection for the term “willy-nilly” (sometimes used in the phrase “willy-nilly style”), and now to discover a blog by the name, a blog which they, themselves, had already done a post on the word portmanteau, well, as you can imagine, this is a Red Letter Day in my book. Here’s an actual blog named Portmanteau, and here’s A.Word.A.Day’s more in-depth definition of the word, if you’re at all interested.
Just had to share. And now, back to those papers!