blend (words)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

The word camcorder is a blend of camera and recorder. ImagesBazaar / Getty Images


A blend is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words or word parts. Also known as a portmanteau wordtelescoping, lexical interlocking, and semantic conflation.

Blends have been described "underlying compounds." One common type of blend is a full word followed by a word part (called a splinter), as in motorcade (motor + cavalcade).

See Examples and Observations below.

Also see:


Examples and Observations

  • affluenza (affluent + influenza)
  • agitprop (agitation + propaganda)
  • alcopop (alcohol + pop)
  • bash (bat + mash)
  • biopic (biography + picture)
  • Breathalyzer (breath + analyzer)
  • camcorder (camera + recorder)
  • chexting (cheating + texting)
  • clash (clap + crash)
  • cosmeceutical (cosmetic + pharmaceutical)
  • docudrama (documentary + drama)
  • electrocute (electricity + execute)
  • emoticon (emote + icon)
  • faction (fact + fiction)
  • fanzine (fan + magazine)
  • flare (flame + glare)
  • flirtationship (flirting + relationship)
  • frenemy (friend + enemy)
  • glimmer (gleam + shimmer)
  • Globish (global + English)
  • guitarthritis (guitar + arthritis)
  • infotainment (information + entertainment)
  • moped (motor + pedal)
  • palimony (pal + alimony)
  • pornacopia (pornography + cornucopia)
  • pulsar (pulse + quasar)
  • sexcapade (sex + escapade)
  • sexploitation (sex + exploitation)
  • sharknado (shark + tornado)
  • sitcom (situation + comedy)
  • slanguage (slang + language)
  • smash (smack + mash)
  • sportscast (sports + broadcast)
  • stagflation (stagnation + inflation)
  • staycation (stay home + vacation)
  • telegenic (television + photogenic)
  • textpectation (text message + expectation)
  • workaholic (work + alcoholic)
  • "The useful term globaloney [global + baloney] was coined by none other than Claire Booth Luce. What she had in mind was gaseous talk about geopolitics, but the term applies equally well to the way many modern pundits ascribe everything that happens in the world to the vaguely defined impacts of the global economy."
    (Paul Krugman, The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches From the Dismal Science. W.W. Norton, 1998)
  • "When a man fell into his anecdotage it was a sign for him to retire from the world."
    (Benjamin Disraeli, Lothair, 1870)
  • "His attention was directed to them by his host jocosely, and he accepted them seriously as they drank in jocoserious silence Epps's massproduct, the creature cocoa."
    (James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922)
  • "[Barack Obama is] a hope-ronaut. He's in a rarefied level of hope where the rest of us have to take tanks up with us."
    (Stephen Colbert, Entertainment Weekly, Oct. 3, 2008)
  • Hispandering: manipulating one's rhetoric or actions to court Hispanic voters.

  • Overlaps
    "Blends typically show overlap in spelling and pronunciation. For example, in wintertainent, the bold letters belong to both source words: winter and entertainment. In cinemenace, the m belongs to both words. Sometimes the overlap is not simply of contiguous letters or sounds: astrocity ←  astronaut + atrocity and flustratred ← flustered + frustrated distribute overlapping letters (and sounds) noncontiguously."
    (Concise Encyclopedia of Semantics, ed. by Keith Allan. Elsevier, 2009)

  • A Trend for Blends
    "The [1920s] saw the coming of age of the blend--a type of word which is formed by merging two existing words together. Some still familiar ones had emerged before 1900 (brunch, for instance, a blend of breakfast and lunch), but it was the 1920s that really started taking a liking to them. Perhaps the best-known of all dates from then--motel. Chunnel was coined long before the Channel tunnel itself was constructed (after which its rate of usage seems to have nosedived), and mirthquake and sexationalism have belied their apparent ephemerality. Such items are meat and drink to journalists and headline writers, and if you can combine them with (more or less) cuddly animals, you have neologisms to die for--hence the extensive press coverage given to swooses (a swan crossed with a goose), tigons (the offspring of a tiger and a lion), and (later) ligers (1938)."
    (John Ayto, A Century of New Words. Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • An Ongoing Trend
    "Blending is an area of word formation where cleverness can be rewarded by instant popularity: sexploitation from the seventies, the Chunnel from the eighties are common words now. . . . [U]npleasant as the phenomena they describe, the words guesstimate, testilying, pagejacking, spamouflage, compfusion, and explornography will probably elicit a smile."
    (R. P. Stockwell and D. Minkova, English Words. Cambridge University Press, 2001)