One of my favorite words is portmanteau, and not because it sounds like one of those fake towns in a steamy soap opera.  (Okay, not only for that reason.)

A portmanteau is created when two existing words are blended to create a new word. Bromance, frenemy, ginormous and sexcellent are fantabulous examples of portmanteaus.

I love the spirit of this—an invitation to root around in the language and, if you can’t find something that expresses what you’re trying to say, to go ahead and disassemble a couple of existing words, duct tape them together and craft your own, brand-new word on the spot.  It’s so…McGyver.

As much as portmanteau appeals to me (and, as a native though long-gone New Orleanian, I have a soft spot for pretty much any word ending in the Cajunesque –eau),  I hesitated to embrace it as the title of this blog.  I worried that it was a little too obscure, even a tad snooty for a website furnished with wall-to-wall shag.

I’m someone who agonizes over names.  It can take me hours to set up an email account, to commit to a password.  Although no one else may ever see them, these handles have to be relevant to my experiences, to feel like me, in order for me to commit to them.  Without some kind of personal significance, the whole electronic transaction can seem hitched and misaligned, like wearing a stranger’s pants.

So I keep searching.

And then I find frankenword, portmanteau’s busted second cousin.  The two words mean the same thing, but if portmanteau drives a Jaguar, then frankenword pulls up in a rusted-out Maxima that leaves a permanent oil stain on your driveway.

The frankenword—product of the combustible, imperfect creative process to which we all have access—lurches from the laboratory out into the streets, terrorizing parts of the citizenry while seducing others with its gap-toothed charm.

Now, we’re talkin’.


  1. We love this too – one of our favorite made up words is “assish” which means: Not quite an asshole, yet somewhat of an ass. We often use it with each other…

  2. I hereby commit myself to using frankenword in my every day vocabulary.

  3. So you’re telling me that ginormous is NOT a “real word?” This changes everything.

  4. Are there men named Dimitri in Portmanteau?

    I’m a fan of the Drunk Uncle – Druncle.

    I have a few.

    (loving the new place, Anna).

  5. This would be a great idea: for a contest.

    Readers submit their original katmandu/portmandu/mantaray whatEVER.

    Then we leave comments with our votes for best word:

    winner gets a copy of THE Chictionary.

    I’ll start it off, because I’m like that:

    Complisult: insult disguised as a compliment. “Oh…I wish I could just let my house go the way you do.”

  6. Plus, it’s a delicious cereal.

  7. Adore the new website, Anna. This is so exciting!!! I hope you are treating yourself to some Denny’s tonight to celebrate.

    Moons Over My Hammy, Baby.


  8. Portmanteau was the name of the freakyist book in the Bookmobile that visited us the year I was in Mrs. O’Grady’s class. It was 70s-tastic awesome. As is your site. So yeah!

    • I keep referencing the Bookmobile (apparently it played an important role in my early childhood) but no one around here knows what the hell I’m talking about. The Bookmobile, people. The BOOKMOBILE!

  9. I thought a frankenword was a penis euphemism. Like wiener.
    Peter O’Toole
    PS: love the fab new look!

  10. I do this on my blog all the time and never knew there was an actual, not to mention impressive, word for it. Thanks for sharing. Just discovered your blog today–love your voice, love the shag carpet, love it. Nice to find some real funny out there.

  11. So HAPPY to find such a funny site!
    There is so MUCH anger, hate, despair, atrocities, racist, sexist, homaphobic, & bullying on the net today, & reported in all of the news, this is a BREATH OF FRESH AIR!
    I just hope this site doesn’t go to being condesending to others! You know, like a bunch of tweens, teenagers, or adults who still have that mind set!!!
    Thank You

  12. Bromance is a word that should have never, ever been invented.

    Love your blog! I will definitely be on the lookout for your book – I think our humor is VERY similar.

  13. Agree with Ameena. Love your sense of humor :)

  14. I thought that was rice, not shag carpet.

  15. I just discovered the word ‘chucklesome.’ While not really a portmanteau, it sounds made up, and is, well, chucklesome. I had to occasion to use it in my last blog post, and think it might become a regular part of my vocabulary.

  16. I like to call fat baby hands (the kind that seemed tacked on because of a deep crease) glubs.

    Love the new digs, very comfy. I feel at home here.

  17. What a great new pad! All it needs is an orange metal electric fireplace and some velvet paintings of clowns with sad eyes. I’ll work on that for you. And “frankenword” is like the Randy Quaid to “portmanteau”‘s Dennis.

  18. I laughed so much over your post and the resulting comments, that I cannot even think of a single clever thing to say. Except: I am enjoying the new site!

  19. I’m the same when it comes to passwords…they have to mean something to me or I’ll forget them. I couldn’t access my bank account once because I forgot the password and after that it all became about ‘meaning’. I also love mashed up words.
    I see your name everywhere, so I thought I’d come by and I’m glad I did. :)

  20. Nice sense of humor!

  21. I had a portmanteau word contest every year the three years I taught 10th grade. It was a vocab word. But on the quiz, I would type all the entries and the kids would vote on their favorite new word. The kids that won were always so proud ; -)

    Happy New Year Anna ; -)))

  22. Summer has gone really well so far, and I just hope that life in Los Angeles will continue to be as enjoyable as it has been.

  23. Love this, being another word nerd. How did I find you? I was lost in Facelandia this morning!

  24. I like cankles, an unholy union of calves and ankles. It’s a funny way to describe fat ankles.

  25. Oooh, I love learning new words! I’ve been creating portmanteaus FOREVER…I just didn’t know there was a real (and super fancy!) name for it. My favorite frankenmanteaus are a bit naughty…like “vajewelry box” and “vajillion” and “vajucational.” Yeah yeah, I know…there’s no J in vajayjay, but it’s easier to convey the proper pronunciation. (Nerd alert!)

    Looking forward to meeting you at EBWW, Anna!

  26. I always thought Portmanteau was a kind of after-dinner drink. Just shows you where my head is at.
    Sorry we didn’t get to spend more time at the bombeck conference together. But word has it that you are the statuesque gorgeous funny lady and I am merely the successful syndicated funny lady, and I can’t be a party to that kind of mean girls mentality. Hope to see you at Mom 2.0 or Type A or some other conference where I intend to hang out with you in very high heels.

  27. I use restovate to refer to what we thought we were going to do to this old house. Restore. Renovate.

    Then there’s ‘stalkward’ when my daughter looks up a boy’s house on google earth satellite view.

  28. My 5-year old daughter is the queen of inadvertent frankenwords. Of course now that I lay that claim, it’s hard to remember them. Here’s one: tearous = so happy i could cry.

  29. I, too, have trouble committing to words. Takes me hours to write anything b/c the words just aren’t right.

    Love the idea of a contest, but only to mock Frakenwords (agreed, bromance never should have been uttered. Or Bradjolina or TomKat or metrosexual). I’m not a big fan of new words. I’m more of an old school word enthusiast.

  30. Anna Lefler!

    Do you mean to tell me that you are from New Orleans? How did I not know this? I am a native myself! I was born and raised there. Born at Ochsner Clinic. Grew up in Metairie. You?


    and frankenword? holy hell. i’m going to be using that one constantly now.


  31. I just got Chicktionary…at last. Well, I might be slow but I’m not DEAD….

  32. Wait…portmanwhat? Now I’ve got two words to add to my vocabulary! I wonder how many times I can pepper my conversation today with portmanteau and frankenword. The former sounds like a fine mustard, and the later sounds like an acceptable swear word.

  33. Uh, that’s latter, not later.

  34. I like portmanteau. It sounds sophisticated. But frankenword is just way too much fun to say. Ten points to everyone who uses it in casual conversation today. Thiago |

  35. AnnMarie Cardin says:

    I love this idea of portmandeau & frankenwords! Use them all the time! Example: while people watching on a busy Miami shopping street we noticed an elderly lady dressed to the nines in HEAD TO TOE turquoise. Hat, jewelry, clothes, shoes, “pocketbook” (it wasn’t a purse, it was a POCKETBOOK) in TURQUOISE. It was almost nauseating. So I coined a new word that day: she made me feel TUR-QUEASY! Keep up the funny! You inspire the funny out here! XO AnnMarie

Here at ‘Bride of Frankenword,’ We Welcome Your Monstrous Comments


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