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Alternative formsEdit


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /pɔːtˈmæn.təʊ/
  • (US) enPR: pôrtmă'ntō, pô'rtmăntōʹ, IPA(key): /pɔːɹtˈmæntoʊ/, /ˌpɔːɹtmænˈtoʊ/
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Etymology 1Edit

French portemanteau (coat stand), from porte (carry) + manteau (coat).


portmanteau (plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux)

  1. A large travelling case usually made of leather, and opening into two equal sections.
    • 1667, Charles Croke, Fortune's Uncertainty:
      Rodolphus therefore finding such an earnest Invitation, embrac'd it with thanks, and with his Servant and Portmanteau, went to Don Juan's; where they first found good Stabling for their Horses, and afterwards as good Provision for themselves.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, “The Mortals in the House”, in The Haunted House:
      He brought down with him to our haunted house a little cask of salt beef; for, he is always convinced that all salt beef not of his own pickling, is mere carrion, and invariably, when he goes to London, packs a piece in his portmanteau.
  2. (Australia, dated) A schoolbag.
  3. (archaic) A hook on which to hang clothing.

Etymology 2Edit

First used by Lewis Carroll in Through The Looking Glass to describe the words he coined in Jabberwocky.


portmanteau (not comparable)

  1. (attributive, linguistics) Made by combining two (or more) words, stories, etc., in the manner of a linguistic portmanteau.
    • 2002 December 14, Nicholas Lezard, “Spooky tales by the master and friends”, in The Guardian (London), page 30:
      The overall narrator of this portmanteau story - for Dickens co-wrote it with five collaborators on his weekly periodical, All the Year Round - expresses deep, rational scepticism about the whole business of haunting.
    • 2002 December 11, Nick Bradshaw, “One day in September”, in Time Out, page 71:
      We're so bombarded with images, it's a struggle to preserve our imaginations.' In response, he's turned to cinema, commissioning 11 film-makers to contribute to a portmanteau film, entitled '11'09"01' and composed of short films each running 11 minutes, nine seconds and one frame.


portmanteau (plural portmanteaus or portmanteaux)

  1. (linguistics) A portmanteau word.
    Synonyms: blend, frankenword, portmanteau word
  2. A portmanteau film
    • 2021 July 12, Nicholas Barber, “The French Dispatch: Four stars for Wes Anderson's latest”, in BBC[1]:
      His long-awaited portmanteau, which premiered in Cannes on Monday, is the most Anderson of all Anderson films. It's Anderson distilled, Anderson squared, Anderson to the nth degree.

Derived termsEdit


portmanteau (third-person singular simple present portmanteaus, present participle portmanteauing, simple past and past participle portmanteaued)

  1. To make a portmanteau word.

See alsoEdit