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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It’s Follow-Up Friday: So Long, Yogi 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 wordplay!

There are certain names that are instantly associated with wordplay:

  • William Archibald Spooner and his spoonerisms, like “Is the bean dizzy?” instead of “Is the dean busy?”
  • Sam Weller and his Wellerisms, like “‘Simply remarkable,'” said the teacher when asked his opinion about the new dry-erase board.” (Quite similar to Tom Swifty and his puns.)
  • Sylvia Wright and her mondegreens, like “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” for “Excuse me while I kiss the sky.”

From authors Lewis Carroll and Jasper Fforde to poet Shel Silverstein and YouTuber Hannah Hart, from characters like Officer Dogberry and Mrs. Malaprop to comedians like George Carlin, Steven Wright, Bo Burnham, and Mitch Hedberg, these names are synonymous with puns, wordplay, and the magic of language.

Sadly, this week, we lost someone noted for his unintentional and hilarious wordplay. This week, Yogi Berra passed away.

You’ve most likely heard at least one of his famous lines:

  • Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours.
  • I knew the record would stand until it was broken.
  • Ninety percent of this game is half-mental.
  • We made too many wrong mistakes.

Joe Garagiola captured Yogi’s legacy of memorable quotes perfectly when he said, “Fans have labeled Yogi Berra ‘Mr. Malaprop,’ but I don’t think that’s accurate. He doesn’t use the wrong words. He just puts words together in ways nobody else would ever do.”

And apparently it was a family trait. In The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!, there’s a page that features Yogi-isms from every member of his family, proving that nobody is immune to delightful word fumbles from time to time.

Yogi, thanks for all the laughs and all the times you made us look at words differently.


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“I have the solution,” Tom answered.

As promised, here are the answers to Friday’s PuzzleNation live game, a.k.a. the Tom Swifties challenge! Thank you to everyone who gave it a shot. I look forward to doing another live puzzle game soon!

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1.) “This is all from memory,” Tom… wrote.

2.) “That just doesn’t add up,” said Tom… nonplussed.

3.) “There’s no need for silence,” Tom… allowed.

4.) “Little devils don’t always tell the truth,” Tom… implied.

5.) “You don’t see the point, do you?” asked Tom… stabbing in the dark.

6.) “No test throw,” thought Tom… triflingly.

7.) “The exit is right there,” Tom… pointed out.

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1.) “I can take photographs if I want to!” Tom… snapped.

2.) “That’s already been taken care of,” Tom… pretended.

3.) “She’s repeating an SOS message,” said Tom… remorsefully.

4.) “I only have diamonds, clubs and spades,” said Tom… heartlessly.

5.) “I’m covering the neighborhood with heavy cotton cloth,” said Tom… canvassing the area.

6.) “I’ve deduced that this is the right way,” said Tom… pathologically.

7.) “I have a split personality,” said Tom… being frank.

And if there’s some kind of live game puzzle challenge you’d like to see, be sure to let us know! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or contact us here!