We all love a good mashup. And with the ability to communicate and collaborate so easily, these days you don’t have to look too far.
Want to listen to Kanye and Weezer, but can’t decide who to go with? Enter ‘Yeezer,’ a ten song album that combines tunes from both artists. (Do yourself a favor and check out a song or two. Here’s a mash-up of Kanye’s “Through The Wire” with “Beverly Hills”.)
And why settle for a sci-fi movie about only sharks or tornadoes when you can enjoy a horrendous combination like Sharknado? It’s on Netflix, but we can’t vouch for it like we can with “Yeezus.”
The point is, we like to combine, to create, to play Dr. Frankenstein whenever we get the chance. We do it with words all the time! Brad + Angelina = Brangelina. Brother + Romance = Bromance. Friend + Enemy = Frenemy. But all those breakdowns fairly obvious.
There are other examples hidden throughout our lexicon. A portmanteau used to refer to a suitcase with two storage compartments, but over time it developed a linguistic definition which means a blend of words. We here at Vimbly compiled a list of ten words that you might not have known were portmanteaus. Check them out:
1) Smog = Smoke + Fog
This word was coined in the early 20th century. Popularized by Dr. Henry Antoine Des Voeux, it was created to describe the clouds of air pollutant generated by the industrial boom. He used it to bring attention a phenomenon, new at the time, that was causing hundreds of deaths in the Edinburgh/Glasgow area. Way to go Dr. Des Voeux.
Not becoming popular until about the 1950s, this mashup describes a show that creates comedy by placing its characters in awkward, embarrassing, or funny situations. Credited hyperbolically for “inventing the sitcom,” US director William Asher directed over two dozen sitcoms between 1950 and 1970, including I Love Lucy. These days people use it to describe pretty much any comedy serial, situation based or not.
3) Twerk = Twist + Jerk
Although Rihanna and Miley have helped boost this portmanteau’s popularity, according to Oxford Dictionary this word has been around for about 20 years. Truthfully there is no unanimous consensus on the word’s origin: some say it’s a contraction of the word “footwork” and others say it’s just an alteration of “work” or “work it.” But since there’s a chance it’s a combination of “twist” + “jerk” we thought we’d tack it on to the list.
4) Gerrymandering = Gerry + salamander
Gerrymandering is a personal favorite and has a great history behind it. Back in 1812, the governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, signed into law a redistricting plan that aimed to benefit his political party. One of the oddly shaped districts formed under this new law was said to resemble a salamander (judge for yourself above). Hence, any future attempts to manipulate district boundaries for political advantage became known as ‘gerrymandering.’
5) Napalm = naphthene + palmitate
Napalm is a highly flammable sticky jelly used in warfare for incendiary bombs and flamethrowers. Named for two of the constituents of the thickening agent — naphthenic and palmitic acids — napalm was used extensively by the US in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. It’s kind of one of those things you wish had never been invented at all, but the portmanteau does make talking about the stuff a lot easier.
6) Vitamin = vital + amine
Coined by Polish biochemist Casimir Funk in 1912, the word vitamin is actually a combination of the word “vital” and “amine” because they were then thought to contain amino acids. When it was later discovered that not all the nutrients had amine components, it was suggested that the final “e” be dropped to deemphasize the amine aspect. So vitamine became vitamin. “E” or no “e,” we think we still would have hated taking them as kids.
7) Wario = warui + Mario
This one is for all the gamers out there. Ever wonder how Mario’s adversary got his name? The word warui in Japanese means ‘bad’ i.e. Wario = Bad Mario. This symbolic rivalry is furthered by the upside down M (also known as a W for our alphabetarian readers) on Wario’s hat. As you might have guessed, this is also how Waluigi received his name — though it doesn’t have quite the same ring as Wario.
8) Pixel = Picture + Element
Although it’s unclear who conceived of the word, it began being used in the early 1960’s. First published in 1965 by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it described the picture elements of video images from space probes to the Moon and Mars. A pixel represents the smallest controllable element of a picture displayed on a screen. But you can just remember that it stands for “picture” + “element” if you’d like.
9) Chortle = Chuckle + Snort
Lewis Caroll had a knack for creating silly words that you could define just by the way they sounded. Some found their way into broader usage (galumph and bandersnatch) and others not so much (brillig). The word “chortle” was first seen in Through the Looking Glass in 1871 and is just one of the many words for which we can thank Caroll. Fun Fact For Fargo Fans: Caroll’s famous poem Jabberwocky was read by Mike Milligan in episode six of season 2.
10) Vimbly = Very + Nimbly
Vimbly is the fastest way to book thousands of local activities, classes & date ideas — any of which can be booked directly with a best price guarantee. We started back in 2012 and offer things such as dance, cooking, pizza making, improv, glassblowing, and tons more! Since we operate nimbly and our customers can navigate the site nimbly, we decided that Vimbly (Very + Nimbly) was the perfect portmanteau for our name. But don’t just take our word for it — check us out yourself!