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Portmanteau Ensures Uniqueness and Differentiation

By May 8, 2013August 14th, 2022No Comments
word cloud, black text, purple highlight of figure of speech called portmanteau

One way to ensure uniqueness and ensure competitive differentiation for your company name, product name, or service name, is to develop the name as a portmanteau. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, a portmanteau is, “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog).” In simpler terms, a portmanteau blends two or more words together. Further, a portmanteau is differentiated from a compound word such that a compound word like ladybug or firefighter is simply two words together. And a portmanteau is the blending of words in a clever way, while still retaining meaning.

Interesting fact. According to a variety of sources, Lewis Carroll is credited with creating the current word portmanteau (old English the word means suitcase). He included a few in his Through the Looking Glass, especially in the conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty, while talking about the “Jabberwocky” poem. And he defined portmanteau as follows.

“Well, ‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’ and ‘mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’. You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

Back to business… granted, differentiation and uniqueness are overused words. Still, their concepts are a must. In the United States, there is an abundance of choices when it comes to finding solutions to whatever business problem you have. One way to be unique is to develop creative and distinctive company, product, and service names. You can also create a word to describe something different about what you offer.

Keep in mind, if you do develop a portmanteau, it will not likely translate to another language.

Find below some ideas to spur creative thought (Wikipedia has a huge list).

Common Portmanteaus

– ampersand, from “and” and “per se” and “and” (this is the & symbol meaning “and”)
– avionics, from aviation and electronics
– bodacious, from bold and audacious
– Bollywood, from Bombay and Hollywood
– brainiac, from brain and maniac
– brunch, from breakfast and lunch
– camcorder, from camera and recorder
– chillax, from chill and relax
– Chunnel, from Channel and tunnel
– coopetition, from cooperation and competition
– edutainment, from education and entertainment
– emoticon, from emotion and icon
– escalator, from escalate and elevator
– fortnight, from fourteen and night (fourteen nights or two weeks)
– imagineering, from imagination and engineering
– infographics, information and graphics
– infomercial, from information and commercial
– jazzercise, from jazz and exercise
– mathlete, from math and athlete
– Podcast, from iPod and broadcast

Company Name Portmanteaus

– Accenture, from accent and future (accent on the future)
– Amtrak, from American and track
– Bakerloo Line, from Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, coined by London’s Evening News in 1906
– Coca-Cola, from coca leaves and kola nuts (Founder John Pemberton changed the K to a C for branding ease)
– FedEx, from the company’s original name, Federal Express
– Freakonomics, from Freak and Economics. Book by economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner
– Ikea, from the first letters in the founders name [I]ngvar [K]amprad and first letters where he grew up [E]lmtaryd [A]gunnaryd in Sweden
– Intel, from integrated and electronics
– Interpol, from international and police
– Lego, from the Danish “Leg Godt,” which means to play well
– Mattel, from founders names Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler
– Microsoft, from microcomputer and software
– Nabisco from national, biscuit and company
– Mozilla, from “mosaic killer” and Godzilla
– Palmolive, from palm and olive
– Pinterest, from pin and interest
– Parature, from Paradigm and Future (Paradigm of the Future)
– Sasol from Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie (Afrikaans for “South African Coal and Oil”)
– Skype, from sky-peer-to-peer, which then became Skyper and finally, Skype
– Sony, from sonus (Latin for sound) and sonny (slang for youngster)
– Verizon, from veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon
– Vodafone from [vo]ice, [da]ta, and tele[fone]
– Wikipedia, from wiki and encyclopedia

Service/Product Name Portmanteau

– Blog, from web and log. Weblogs was shortened to blog in the late 1990s
– freeware, from free and software
– infomercial, from information and commercial
– karaoke (Japan), Japanese word kara, meaning empty, and orchestra from English
– knowledgebase, from knowledge and database
– malware, from malicious and software
– modem, from modulator and demodulator
– podcast, from iPod and broadcast
– Pokémon (Japanese), from pocket and monster
– Rolodex, from rolling and index
– shareware, from share and software
– webinar, from World Wide Web and seminar
– Webelos (We’ll be loyal Scouts), a rank within the Cub Scouts division of the Boy Scouts of America

The Figures of Repetition series includes Anadiplosis, Anaphora, Diacope, Epanalepsis, Epiphora, and Epizeuxis.

Other figures of speech include Asyndeton, Onomatopoeia, Polysyndeton, and Portmanteau.

References: I use a combination of my experience, my personal library of books and journals, sources from the Internet, and my 500-plus page Story Elements Resource Guide. My favorite sources include, in alphabetical order: American Rhetoric, Encyclopedia Britannica, LitCharts, Literary Devices, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary, Silva Rhetoricae, and ThoughtCo. My favorite books include: A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices by Robert A. Harris; Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth; and A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, 2nd Edition by Richard A. Lanham.

Blog updated 2021 02
Photography Source:  Message Cloud/Word Cloud © Copyright 2021, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.