Posted by: caitlinmonahan | December 21, 2011

Portmanteaus

The more I learn about Lewis Carroll, the more I am amazed by his wonderful creativity and coupled with his extremely logical, math-oriented mind. One does not often see these two opposite characteristics in one person. For example, I knew that Carroll liked to make up his own words and definitions as part of his quest to add logic to the world, but I just recently learned that he coined “chortle” and “galumphing” which are now standard English words. Even more fascinating, is that Lewis Carroll coined the term “portmanteau”, as in portmanteau words, meaning words that are made from two or more other words. Carroll wrote the words “slithy” meaning lithe and slimy, as well as “mimsy” meaning flimsy and miserable, seen in the poem Jabberwocky. These words were so-called because of how Humpty Dumpty described them as being like the piece of furniture the portmanteau, which is two pieces in one. Although he didn’t coin them himself, Lewis Carroll is responsible for words like smog, spork, and sexting!


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