It’s Follow-Up Friday: Importmanteau edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of portmanteaus.

[Image courtesy of upenn.edu.]

For the uninitiated, a portmanteau is a word that combines two words and represents aspects of both of them. Smog is a portmanteau of smoke and fog. Spork, avionics, brunch, labradoodle, cyborg, Pinterest, webinar, glitterati, Reaganomics, sharknado…these are all portmanteau words.

It can be a handy way to coin a term for a situation that doesn’t already have a word to describe it. For instance, I like to think of that unpleasant sensation that you’re going to drop your car keys down a storm drain as “sedanxiety.” A disastrous kiss? “Liplockalypse.”

And clearly I’m not the only one who enjoys crafting new portmanteaus.

Tom Murphy, not to be confused with Tom Swifty (another big name in wordplay), set himself a seemingly impossible challenge: create a portmanteau that includes every word in the English language. A lofty goal, considering there are around 100,000 words in our dictionary.

Utilizing a keen knowledge of French grammar, he coins this project a portmantout, using the French word for “all.”

And not only does he coin a few choice portmanteaus along the way, but he succeeds in creating a single portmanteau that contains every word in the English language:

Granted, that word is 611,000 letters long, but hey, it’s still a pretty impressive bit of coding and wordsmithing.

I look forward to a future video where he says the word out loud.


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