I don’t care much for Sarah Palin, but I love her new word “refudiate.” Jimmy Kimmel compares her to Don King — “She just makes words up!”
“Refudiate” is an example of a portmanteau, a blend of two words to make a new one. Sarah couldn’t decide between “refute” and “repudiate,” so she just combined them! Examples with a little more traction are “smog,” “brunch,” “spork,” “multiplex,” and “Muppet.” Who knows? Maybe “refudiate” will catch on! It’s kind of brilliant.
“Portmanteau” is itself a portmanteau (just as “oxymoron” is itself an oxymoron), blending the French words for “carry” (porter) and “cloak” (manteau). See a whole bunch of examples here. I just learned that they’re also called “centaur words.” How great is that?
Much as I love Sarah getting ridiculed, we’ve all done this inadvertantly, but not necessarily both in speech and in writing (in a Tweet), as she did. Sometimes I hear people say they’re “flustrated.”
Children create new combinations frequently. I often quote my niece Stephanie, who, begging to go home after an exhausting day at the Stark County Fair, complained she was “cowsick,” which isn’t precisely a portmanteau but is pretty close.
Any examples of your own to share?