Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Words With Bizarre Roots

A portmanteau is a word for which the form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms.  You use these words, but I'll bet you didn't know how they came to be.

5: Smash - After a while, people started to notice how often "smack" and "mash" went hand-in-hand.  Now, we rarely say mash (except with reference to potatoes), and we say smash about as often as smack, if not more.

4: Because - If you act because of something, that something is the cause of your acting.  "Because" is a portmanteau of "by the cause."

3: Internet - An international network of linked computers used primarily for (1) dissemination of pornography; (2) social networking; (3) playing video games; and occasionally (4) working.  For some reason, the short form became "internet" rather than "internetpornfacegamework."

2: Goodbye - Years ago, as Europeans left from a visit, they'd be wished safe travels by the phrase, "God be with ye."  No word on where "smell ya later" came from...

1: Bonfire - Ancient Celts used to burn the bones of cattle slaughtered at the festival of Samhain, the end of summer/beginning of winter ritual, this "bone fire" (banefire in Middle English) eventually gave us the word bonfire.  Crazy, right?  I wonder if the Celts celebrated by playing the homecoming game the next day.

So, portmanteaus...  Did you know that Lewis Carroll coined the term?  Yup, the same guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland.  interesting, right?  he's an interesting guy...  More on him later, probably.  Anyway, comments below (if you can think of other portmanteaus, please share them!), and don't forget to share on Facebook! 


  1. Wow this is interesting! I knew the "Good Bye" thing but not others.It was funny to know the interpretation of internet by you! I am not going against it completely though!

  2. Is this just another way for you to get us to play balderdash?