Word Blends

Vivian Cook   Words index

A blend is when two words are put together to make one. Sometimes this is the deliberate invention of  an individual: Lewis Carroll put snort together with chuckle to get chortle:

Calloo callay he chortled in his joy.

Yet, regardless of who actually invents them, blending is one of the processes at work in the historical development of the language.  Some of the ways of creating blends are by:

- overlapping: the two words share a common middle, filmania, cartune, netiquette

- clipping: parts of the words are left out:

1 whole word plus part of a second: fanzine (fan + (maga)zine, babelicious (babe + (de)licious), travelogue (travel + (dia)logue

2 part of first word plus whole of second: Eurasia, alcopop, Britpop

3 first bit of first word, last bit of second: smog (smo(ke)+ (f)og), electrocute (electr(ic) + (exe)cute), camcorder (cam(era) + (re)corder, brunch (bre(akfast) + (l)unch), spam (sp(iced) + (h)am), chunnel (Ch(annel) + (Tun)nel), heliport (heli(copter) + port, Cathestant (Cath(olic)+ (Prot)estant

4 both first bits: agitprop (agit(ate) + prop(aganda)), modem (mod(ulator) + dem(odulator))

5 Others: blog ((we)blog), podcast ((i)pod (broad)cast)

- clipping at boundaries: Oxbridge (Ox(ford) + (Cam)bridge),

- clipping and overlapping: slithy, motel (mot(or) + (hot)el),

- imperfect overlapping: chump (possibly ch(unk) + (st)ump)

Blends are also frequently produced spontaneously in speech, such as the following examples discussed by psycholinguists:

That's torrible (terrible + horrible),

Have you ever flivven (flown + driven),

Grastly (grizzly + ghastly).

Like spoonerisms, psycholinguist use blends as evidence that the different components of the speech production process can get  out of step; deciding which of two words to say leaves one effectively using a blend of both.

Main source:
Algeo, J. (2006), British or American English?:
A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns,

Cambridge University Press

infixes  reduplicatives  compounds

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