Portmanteau - (Pronounced as Port-man-tow) noun
What do u think is common between words like: motel, chortle, muppet, brunch, smog, spork, moped, cyborg, blog or the silliest of them all Brangelina? It's a cinch really, and am sure u all know what I'm arriving at! :)
They are all portmonteau words or simply put portmanteaux/portmanteaus (plural of portmonteau) : words that are formed by combining both sounds and meanings from two or more words.
Portmonteau according to Chambers entered in English from Middle French around 1584 and was originally used to mean a travelling bag, typically with two compartments (porte- from porter- to carry, manteau- from Old French mantel- cloak).
The term portmanteau as a description of word combinations was devised by English writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-98). Carroll introduced the portmanteau word-combination term in the book 'Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There' (the sequel to 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland'), which first appeared in 1871. In the book, the character Humpty Dumpty uses the word portmanteau (as a descriptive noun) to describe to Alice how the new word 'slithy' is formed from two separate words and meanings, lithe and slimy: "...You see it's like a portmanteau - there are two meanings packed up into one word..."
"Portmanteau" is rarely used to refer to a suitcase in English any more, since that type of a suitcase has fallen into disuse.
This post takes me back to my post on Denial ain't just a river in Egypt where I talked about how some of the seminal authors whose works we have read and loved before, have enriched our vocabularies. This seems to be an interesting trip I have embarked on and I'm looking forward to every pit-stop. :)
Sources: http://dictionary.reference.com/ , www.wikipedia.org
Update (22/04/07): by 666
Check out this extensive list on portmanteaus