Sarah Makes Up a Word

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?

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3 Responses to Sarah Makes Up a Word

  1. shanon says:

    MY kids have been known to say ‘chillax’ and once at a radio station I was working at I accidentally said ‘Sorry to intertrude’ and they loved it & used it for quite awhile… Joanne, that is a great word! That truly explains how many woman feel in that particular situation!

  2. Joanne Westin says:

    Sometimes a person may be “disrelieved” – a little disappointed and a little relieved – to find out she is not pregnant.

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