Definition of portmanteau in English:



  • 1A large travelling bag, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts.

    • ‘Luggage labels are those elegant, postcardlike stickers that first adorned the portmanteaus of the well traveled back in the late 19th century.’
    • ‘She said, ‘Bring me the piece that has the key to my portmanteau.’’
    • ‘This refers to an episode that took place during the Parnell Commission when the politician claimed that mice got into his portmanteau and devoured some important documents.’
    • ‘Adam emerged from his bedroom carrying his portmanteau, which he placed on the floor close to the door.’
    • ‘One Friday afternoon, without any warning at all, Lydie came home to find Adele sitting on her front porch with two portmanteaus on either side.’
    • ‘One they'd reached the carriage, the portmanteaux were tied in place, civil goodbyes were said between the royal family and the Davis girls, and the women stepped inside their carriage.’
    • ‘I had no idea where he had found the black portmanteau.’
    • ‘Yet it does have the feeling of an academic's large portmanteau, one quickly stuffed with odd books, papers and mismatched socks, rather cumbersome for lighter travel.’
    • ‘‘Here, let's get your bags in out of the rain,’ she said, changing the subject and taking one of Adele's portmanteaus.’
    • ‘Then she wondered what would happen to their portmanteau.’
    • ‘This term is much less comprehensible to us now that the literal sense of portmanteau has gone out of use.’
    • ‘William chuckled and set his portmanteau on the sparkling floor.’
    • ‘The documents relating thereto were in a secret drawer in a portmanteau, which had been stolen, and it was to ransom it that the writer asked for a few pounds.’
    • ‘One evening the Chief stormed out of his bedroom to punish his servant for having forgotten his portmanteau at Umtata.’
    • ‘Sancho Panza thinks they had better bring the two portmanteaus back to Ireland as quietly as possible.’
    suitcase, case, valise, holdall, carryall, grip, overnight bag, overnighter, flight bag, travelling bag, gladstone bag, carpet bag
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  • 2A word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel or brunch.

    ‘podcast is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words iPod and broadcast’
    ‘a portmanteau word combining smoke and fog’
    • ‘The portmanteau is out of fashion but the portmanteau word is not.’
    • ‘It's a portmanteau word combining dodgy and hotpot, and means a talking horse - another term in the lexicon - which should be avoided by punters at all costs.’
    • ‘Laforgue puns, makes up portmanteau words and re-applies tags from the natural language, the Christian liturgy and well-known works of literature.’
    • ‘A portmanteau word combining smoke and fog, the term was popularized by H. A. Des Voeux in his report to the Manchester Conference of the Smoke Abatement League of Great Britain in 1911.’
    • ‘It is written in a unique and extremely difficult style, making use of puns and portmanteau words (using at least 40 languages besides English), and a very wide range of allusion.’
    • ‘The four short interludes don't do much except show Johnson's talent for the portmanteau word.’
    • ‘Recently, I had to go to Maryland, which I pronounce Maryland, it being, as far as I can tell, a portmanteau word, made up of Mary and land.’
    • ‘Such novels may be written in a seemingly unintelligible stream of consciousness style, contain puns, portmanteau words, even retreat into a private language.’
    • ‘The school student may be too naive to know that karaoke is a portmanteau word blending two Japanese words: ‘kara’ meaning empty (as in karate meaning empty hand) and oke (short for okesutora meaning orchestra).’
    • ‘It's a portmanteau word, from calidid and tierra (land or soil).’
    • ‘The Wake's hybridist nature extends beyond genre, even beyond portmanteau words, indeed to the most atomic level of text (letters, punctuation, sigla of all forms).’
    • ‘I have just invented a portmanteau word - Crumpety - Crotchety and Grumpy.’
    1. 2.1as modifier Consisting of or combining two or more aspects or qualities.
      ‘a portmanteau movie composed of excerpts from his most famous films’
      • ‘As a result Film Ing would be more appropriately described as a portmanteau movie, each part of which narrates a different story such as romance, travelogue and so on.’
      • ‘He has already committed to shooting one third of the portmanteau film Eros, with directors he was worked with before.’
      • ‘The handbook is a portmanteau category that covers the contemporary publications of sporting bodies, professional and trade associations, churches, universities, etc.’
      • ‘Hampson has an attractive stage presence, but I sometimes think that he comes complete with a rather portmanteau interpretation.’
      • ‘Shot on digital video, this juxtaposes the lives of three women in a portmanteau movie which arguably goes about its business with less fuss than The Hours.’
      • ‘A similar memory even emerges of one of those old portmanteau horror films: the actor in a studio-built crypt, dressed in a monk's habit, listening to the ghoulish confessions of damned souls.’
      • ‘A good game to play while watching portmanteau horror films is in spotting the famous actors, as well as those hardy character actors who crop up again and again.’
      • ‘This film is only one of several portmanteau documentaries from post-war France; each, in turn, describes an ecology premised on expedient, routine slaughter.’
      • ‘I blame much of this stagnation on the label itself, a clunky portmanteau that suggests the collision rather than integration of ‘folk’ and ‘electronic’ music.’
      • ‘In opposition to society-level explanations, Sanderson introduces the portmanteau notion of individual-level ‘human needs.’’
      • ‘The gritty pulp atmosphere, expressed through the severely limited palette, as well as the Gilliamesque portmanteau technology, makes Detective Story one of the most visually arresting films I've seen this year.’
      • ‘To narrow this portmanteau question down to discussion size, I will focus here on some of the issues television opens up concerning the aesthetics of a specific genre that has its roots firmly in the movies.’
      • ‘This portmanteau movie is a companion piece to the one that appeared here in September.’
      • ‘Herrera's portmanteau style and ludic impulse constitute a form of visual jabberwocky, in which the familiar is confidently manipulated and destabilized.’
      • ‘Granger and Newbold caution against the exclusive reliance on the portmanteau tests for model adequacy.’
      • ‘The ergonomist must understand all of the demands being made on the person, and the likely effects of any changes to these - the techniques which enable him to do this come under the portmanteau label of ‘job and task analysis’.’
      • ‘The proliferation of portmanteau disciplines - astrophysics, biochemistry and so on - suggests that this single-parent principle is under strain.’
      • ‘Hemphill is actually surprisingly handsome, with startlingly blue eyes and an odd portmanteau accent that belies his formative years in Canada after being born in Glasgow.’
      • ‘There is a conscious, even contrived lack of consequence to this Argentinian portmanteau movie using non-professionals, about three individuals making their vulnerable way across Patagonia.’
      • ‘What was presumably intended as a multi-layered portmanteau pic was thus boiled down into only two episodes.’


Mid 16th century: from French portemanteau, from porter ‘carry’ + manteau ‘mantle’.