The Art of the Portmanteau: 50 Modern Word Mashups in Pop Culture

Fifty new words that have helped us change the way we text, do business, and get dumber-er with each day. Check it.

Not Available Lead
Image via Complex Original
Not Available Lead

This Art/Design list is in fact, more of a Language

Arts list. While some may disagree with this concept based solely on the

fear that it is not a visual enough topic for such a medium as a 50

List gallery, we offer you this: language is still an art, if used

properly. Also, if you promise to click through, there will be funny pictures and jokes so you won’t

get bored. Welcome

to ever-expanding universe of the English portmanteau. What the

hell is a portmanteau, you ask? Good question.

A portmanteau is two words smushed together to make a new word that combines the meaning of the original two. Think “brunch” or “fucktard.” These frankenwords (that’s one right there) give you more meaning with less wordz! It’s a little like New Speak,

but way better suited to comedy and debasement. This is just a guesstimate

(another one), but there are way more than 50 good ones so add your own

in the comments, dear readers. We promise, less words from here on out.


We’re not even going to dignify celebrity name mashups or NYC

neighborhoods that a realtor shat out with a place on the list because

they’re that terrible. Not that you could or should call this a

dignified list. Click on for 50 great portmanteaus that have changed the way we live life in the modern world.


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: hungry + angry

Not to be confused with hypoglycemia, hangry is when you wait too long to eat lunch and then your start getting snippy and irrational at the office. We're only at 36? This is exhausting. Let's segway. After all that sex & hate talk, we're hangry for some food portmanteaus...

Origin: Urban Dictionary says 2005 for first listing, but we say about 40,000 years ago some hangry being grunted it's equivalent.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: breakfast + lunch

We already mentioned this one, but it's a cornerstone of the word class and to leave it out would be criminal. If you don't know what brunch is you're probably a cowboy or a communist so... just so. Whatever. Moving along...

Origin: Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists the first usage as 1896.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: croissant + sandwich

Pretty sure this one is french. Not sure what it means.

Origin: The Crossain'Wich was introduced by Burger King in 1983.


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: labradore + poodle

This one's obvious. They've been making dog mashups forever, but did you know that there are more, betterer animal portmanteaus? It' true.

Origin: According to the "ultimate labradoodle community," the breed came about in 1988 by an Aussie breeder named Wally Cochran.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

Grolar Bear

Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: shark + octopus

Not even close to real, but such a cool word. Sharktopus. Don't bother seeing the movie, by the way. Speaking of movies...

Origin: The 2010 movie Sharktopus was the beginning and probably the end of this word.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: romantic + comedy

When you only have one minute to pitch an idea to a bunch of executives, you don't have time to use a bunch of words so you need to distill your movie idea into a concise combination of pre-existing formulas. "It's a romcom!" See? That one saves you four syllables.

Origin: This one is hard to determine, but it's definitely been in use since 2003 and almost certainly earlier, particularly inside the entertainment industry.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: mom + entrepreneur

If you really wanted to pitch a good movie, you could do one about a single, laid off digerati internet momtrepreneur who starts her own business while raising her toddler and makes a facebook app that finds her the man of her dreams and who was really the sperm donor for the baby she had because she was too busy working to find the man of her dreams! Hooof, that was a long sentence. Call me, Hollywood.

Origin: The earliest usage we could find was 2007, but who knows what bored stay-at-home mom thought it up before that.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: advertising + editorial

You know those special sections in magazines that look kind of like the editorial content but are about how great this Ford Focus' stereo is and it seems weird that they're talking about it for two pages? Well, that's not content, that's an ad. Or more accurately, it is ad sales' bevloed, advertorial.

Origin: The NYT mentions the term in a 1979 piece noting US News and World Report's upcoming Nov. 19 issue.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: bad + advertising

There can be good advertorial, but then there can also be plain old badvertising. It's usually late at night and for some fitness machine or cleaning product, but sometimes it's simpler than that...

Origin: Pretty much since the advent of modern advertising we imagine. Those guys are creative with word play anyway.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: fucking + ugly

Sometimes it's just fugly. It happens to advertising as well as to people, dogs, babies it just happens so you should be aware.

Origin: Online Entymology Dicitonary says it was in use by 1997.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: chronic + drunk or crazy + drunk or crack + drunk

Take your pick, you can all get crunk how ever you want. This one is a prime example of how you can take two words, put them together and it takes on the combined characteristics of the original words and then you can take that new word and makes it mean nothing at all by commercializing the hell out of it and then buy a $500,000 "Crunk Ain't Dead" necklace to say that what you killed isn't dead.

Origin: Merriam-Webster has it's first known use in the year 2000.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: crap + spectacular

Another word for that last product mentioned and the general situation surrounding energy drinks at the moment is craptacular. Fantastically bad, like most romcoms and all the Wayan's brothers movies.

Origin: The word was used by Bart Simpson in The Simpsons episode, "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace" on December 21, 1997. From there it invaded middle schools and the world.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: shit + fart

Speaking of crap, this one is usually only something you have to worry about if you're very old or very young (or a little old and very hungover). When you try to push one out just a little too hard, this will happen. Like that time on your roommate's chair.

Origin: We think the coolest grandpa in the world came up with this term in the 1870s, but we can't verify that. It also appeared in the 2004 script for Along Came Polly and has since entered the vernacular.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: beard + weirdo

While beards have been on the rise again, there are still a handful out there that you should keep your women and children away from and those belong to the beardos. This guy sharts. No doubt about it.

Origin: According to this wordy citation, 1994, but probably in the 60s when beardos where everywhere.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: pandemonium + delirium

I was just thinking, if I happened to be around him when he sharted, like on the subway or something, I imagine that there would be some sort of pandelirium. Everyone would just panic and scream and try to cover their faces, tearing at their eyes and noses in a vain attempt to get the horror to end and then the subway would be stop and you'd be stuck, chocking on poo air and tears and it would be the worst day of your life. Also, it would look terrible on that white suit. Like a giant piece of used toilet paper...

Origin: Pandelirium was the title of a 2006 album by The Legendary Shack Shakers. Someone definitely said it before that though.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: non + controversy

This is a good one. It's calming after that last horror show. See, we got all worked up over a nontroversy.

Origin: After cruising the blogoshpere, it seems nontroversy has really only sprouted in the last few years going back to 2008. That's not a technical citation, but that's what we're working with on some of these.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: smoke + fog

In the 80s everyone was losing their shit about smog and now we're just glad it's not as bad in L.A. as it is in China. Turned out to be a bit of a nontroversy, eh?

Origin: Merriam-Webster puts first usage at 1884, around the time Lewis Carroll coined the term portmanteau.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: boredom + orgasm

So that was weak. Look, it's a long list. What can I say? Now is a good time for your boregasm, when you're so bored that the boredom climaxes and washes over you and you look over and you realize you never even really liked this list, or portmanteaus and you sneak out the back door and you never call us again.

Origin: There's blog entitled Boregasm going back to 2006 and the Urban Dictionary has it entered in 2009, so probably somewehre in the aughts.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: midget + ninja

But then we pull you back in with minjas. Suckers. Nothing more to say about this one. Case closed.

Origin: In April 2006 the Youtube ninja, "Ask a Ninja" posted this. A movement was born.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: black + japanese

This one is popular now, I had a friend's mom try to explain to me with a straight face that this was in fact a real, new, legit race and that it's okay to say and that part-black-part-asian people are totally into it. Wow. Well riddle me this, what do we do when the parents are black and Lebanese? I don't think one vowel is going to cut it. To be honest, these are just too easy come up with and too easy have go wrong. And it's not just with races and nationalities, but with everything, what you eat, beliefs, whatever–it's just cheap laughs. Not like poop jokes and sharting. See also, the see alsos if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Origin: It was featured in the movie Rush Hour in 1998, but was around before that... or was it, Chris Tucker?

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: trust fund + rastafarian

We really wanted to leave this one off, but it's so old school it's got to be in the 90s hall of fame with flannel, hemp necklaces and My So Called Life. And we really want to go to the 90s hall of fame. In a nutshell, a trustafarian is a white kid with dreadlocks from Connecticut who has enough money to do whatever he wants and for some reason he or she has decided that what they want is to not bathe or groom and smoke forests of ganja and pretend it's a sacrament but they still want to drive the Range Rover their parents gave them. They also sometimes wear...

Origin: First appeared in the style section of the NYT in 1993.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: jeans + shorts

I would have put jeggings as the primary on this one, but I'm so sick of jeggings. Let's get back to the classics: jorts. Now, to be clear here, some people think jorts are cut-off jean shorts and that's technically true and I own several pairs of those, but because of the negative connotation often associated with the term jorts I prefer to think of them as the baggy, below the knee, terrible kind. It's a way of protecting my fragile ego while still showing off my magnificent legs.

Origin: While jorts have been around since denim was invented, the real watershed for the term jorts came in 2010 when it first appeared in the NYT and countless other fashion commentaries, almost universally derogatorily.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: gay + radar

I'm done defending jorts, I've said my piece, but sometimes they do set of peoples' gaydar. A good example of this came up last night when I was watching a baseball game at a bar with a friend who has no gaydar. It seems that on Mondays at the establishment in question, the clientele changes a little and skews heavily male with exposed upperbody. No big deal, but I thought I'd wait and see how long it took for him to notice and it took until they put Burlesque, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera on the projector. Then his gaydar finally went off.

Origin: First appeared in the NYT in 1993 in the education section, but most Merriam-Webster says first usage was in 1982.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: faux + mohawk

Thanks for this one, Becks. You knob.

Origin: Early aughts when David Beckham (and all European males under 30) started wearing it, but definitely by 2002 when it was cited in the NYT.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: costume + play

We don't know why this exists, but if it's big in Asia, you better be ready for it. You just dress up like anime or video game characters and play. Where do these gigantic children come from?

Origin: Started practice began in Taiwan in the early 1990s and developed from there, but finally made the NYT in 2004.


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: snide + remark

Apparently, the godfather of the portmanteau, Lewis Carroll, came up with this one originally as a mythical beast, only to have it make become a stylistic necessity in internet journalism over a hundred years later.

Origin: The modern meaning came into usage in the early 20th century.

See Also:


Not Available Interstitial

What Makes Up the Name: chill + relax

This is the one most likely to makes someone want to eat your face off. And we mean that in a bad way. There is no need to combine these two words. Please, never ever use this term. Thank you and this concludes the list of Complex list of 50 Portmanteaus.

Origin: Merriam-Webster (ARE YOU SERIOUS?) says first usage was in 1999.

Latest in Style