Our Cambridge Dictionary Facebook page recently featured a post on portmanteau words or blends. These are words formed by combining two other words, such as Brexit (short for ‘British exit’) and brunch (a combination of ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).
Some blends have existed for a long time. ‘Brunch’, for instance, originated as long ago as the late 19th century. Others were invented more recently. (Although it sometimes seems as if the word ‘Brexit’ has existed forever, it was actually invented as recently as 2012!) Here we look at relatively recent blends in the English language.
Let’s start with food and eating. The blend flexitarian (=flexible + vegetarian) reflects a recent trend away from meat eating. It refers to a person who eats mainly vegetarian food and only now and then eats meat: On page 5, ten health benefits of a flexitarian diet.
The word mocktail, (=mock + cocktail) which has been around a little longer, means ‘a cocktail containing no alcohol’: Customers can enjoy a range of cocktails and mocktails.
Meanwhile, a person who is feeling a little angry or impatient because they haven’t eaten for a while may now be described informally as hangry (= hungry + angry): Just before lunch, he tends to get a bit hangry.
As you might imagine, fashion has generated blends. Jeggings (= jeans + leggings) are tight trousers made from a stretchy material that looks like denim: I went for comfort – jeggings and a sweatshirt.
Skort or skorts (=skirt + shorts), meanwhile, refers to a pair of shorts with a piece of material across the front that gives the appearance of a skirt: I wear a skort for tennis.
Leisure also has a few recent blend words. In the UK, glamping (=glamorous + camping) refers to a more luxurious and stylish form of camping that involves comfortable chairs and beds, heating, etc: Browse our range of glamping options.
A staycation (=stay + vacation) is a holiday that you take at home or near your home, rather than a long distance away: There’s always the more economical staycation option.
Cosplay (=costume + play) is the activity of dressing as and pretending to be a character from a film, comic book, etc: Cosplay conventions have become big business.
A blend that is often heard in relation to celebrities and other public figures is bromance. This informal term – a blend of ‘bro’/‘brother’ and ‘romance’ – refers humorously to a close, friendly relationship between two men. The apparent bromance between the two leaders has been remarked on in the press.
Continuing with men, the disapproving term mansplain (=man + explain) has emerged in the past few years. If a man mansplains to a woman, he explains something that she already understands: I’ve just had a guy mansplain my own job to me!
Have you heard or read any other blend words recently?