The Suitcase Lady


December 18, 2018, 9:53 pm

“Frappuccino is such a silly word,” my husband remarked to me the other day.

“It certainly is,” I agreed, “and so is the number of calories in those concoctions.” However, he had sparked my curiosity about the origins of the word. A little research revealed that the word is a portmanteau.

The first definition of ‘portmanteau’ in the dictionary is “a large suitcase with two equal compartments.” The second definition is “words that blend the sounds and meanings of two words.”

Note that compound words are not portmanteaus. ‘Starfish’ is a compound word. If turned into a portmanteau it would be ‘stish’.

Frappuccino blends the word ‘frappe’ and ‘cappuccino’. The origins of the word ‘frappe’ are French, but it is also a common word in New England for a milkshake with ice cream. The Greeks have a very popular iced coffee drink they refer to as a frappe as well, and they invented it long before Starbucks came on the scene.

Portmanteaus are sprinkled throughout the English language:

  • motel- motor hotel
  • smog- smoke fog
  • moped- motor pedal
  • dumbfound- dumb confound
  • flexitarian- flexible vegetarian
  • bash- bang smash
  • wallaroo- wallaby kangaroo
  • hassle- haggle tussle

Those of us who love to travel come across many ingenious place name portmanteaus at borders:

  • Lake Wissota
  • Delmar
  • Arkoma
  • Calexico
  • Calneva
  • Florala
  • Idavada
  • Kanorado
  • Michiana
  • Texarkana
  • Texhoma

And let’s not forget SeaTac, the airport between Seattle and Tacoma.

To conclude, my least favorite portmanteau at the moment is Brexit. My favorite is pictured below. It’s our CATIO. The cats agree with me on this.



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