July 10, 2013
Where are you vacationing this summer? Do you have the destination? Do you have the tickets purchased? Once your plans for time away from home are settled, then the suitcases are brought out: down from the attic; up from the basement; unearthed from the bottom of the closet; or scooted out from under the beds. How many will you pack?
Will you take a bag, a trunk, six carry-ons, a grip ... a what? Once upon a time, a family planned a vacation and invited me. The mother of the family asked me, "What size is your grip?" Slowly, I opened my hands to show my palms hoping she could gauge my grip. She laughed and explained the word 'grip' as a satchel, a holdall, - you know, a suitcase!
Well, I have carried (get it?) that word with me ever since. And our research database, Visual Thesaurus, gives synonyms: traveling bag, Gladstone bag, carryall, handbag, portmanteau ... Hey, give me that one again: portmanteau - which the Oxford English Dictionary describes as, "a large travelling bag made of stiff leather; the word's first usage 1553." I remember learning a literary term, portmanteau words (coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass, 1872). A portmanteau word is a word blending the sounds and combining the meaning of two others. For example, motel (motor + hotel) or brunch (breakfast + lunch) - from The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase & Fable.
Some more for your enjoyment: podcast = broadcast + iPod (from A Dictionary of the Internet); smog, first recorded in 1905, = smoke + fog; infotainment = first recorded in the US in the 1980s, means broadcast material that seeks to inform and entertain: see also docudrama (from Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage); chortle = chuckle + snort (from Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language).
Portmanteau's etymology (according to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary) is from porter - to carry - and manteau - mantle.
Are you interested in traveling through the world of words? Take a few word trips of your own!