Definition of portmanteau in English:



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

    • ‘Adam emerged from his bedroom carrying his portmanteau, which he placed on the floor close to the door.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Luggage labels are those elegant, postcardlike stickers that first adorned the portmanteaus of the well traveled back in the late 19th century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She said, ‘Bring me the piece that has the key to my portmanteau.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Then she wondered what would happen to their 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.’
    • ‘I had no idea where he had found the black portmanteau.’
    • ‘‘Here, let's get your bags in out of the rain,’ she said, changing the subject and taking one of Adele's portmanteaus.’
    • ‘William chuckled and set his portmanteau on the sparkling floor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This term is much less comprehensible to us now that the literal sense of portmanteau has gone out of use.’
    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’
    • ‘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'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.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘Such novels may be written in a seemingly unintelligible stream of consciousness style, contain puns, portmanteau words, even retreat into a private language.’
    • ‘Laforgue puns, makes up portmanteau words and re-applies tags from the natural language, the Christian liturgy and well-known works of literature.’
    • ‘The portmanteau is out of fashion but the portmanteau word is not.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have just invented a portmanteau word - Crumpety - Crotchety and Grumpy.’
    • ‘It's a portmanteau word, from calidid and tierra (land or soil).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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).’
    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’
      • ‘Hampson has an attractive stage presence, but I sometimes think that he comes complete with a rather portmanteau interpretation.’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘He has already committed to shooting one third of the portmanteau film Eros, with directors he was worked with before.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In opposition to society-level explanations, Sanderson introduces the portmanteau notion of individual-level ‘human needs.’’
      • ‘This film is only one of several portmanteau documentaries from post-war France; each, in turn, describes an ecology premised on expedient, routine slaughter.’
      • ‘What was presumably intended as a multi-layered portmanteau pic was thus boiled down into only two episodes.’
      • ‘This portmanteau movie is a companion piece to the one that appeared here in September.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The proliferation of portmanteau disciplines - astrophysics, biochemistry and so on - suggests that this single-parent principle is under strain.’
      • ‘The handbook is a portmanteau category that covers the contemporary publications of sporting bodies, professional and trade associations, churches, universities, etc.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’.’


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