(Card from Print Smitten on Etsy)

For years my sister had a special word on reserve for moments when it’d been a while since I’d eaten. Hangry. The combination of being hungry and angry. Anger caused by hunger.

Hangry is an example of portmanteau: the joining of two words to create a new one, with a combined meaning. The term portmanteau was adopted into the English language to refer to Portmanteau luggage, which is luggage with two equal compartments. The origin of the word is French (portemanteau) meaning ‘to carry’ (porter) and ‘mantle’ (manteau).

In Through the Looking Glass (1871), Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty explain to Alice what a portmanteau was, citing examples like ‘frumious’ (furious and fuming) and chortle (chuckle and snort) as the practice of combining two words. Lewis Carroll was one of the first literary examples where portmanteau was described and defined, opening up peoples’ imaginations to possible word combinations.

Hangry isn’t an official fully fledged portmanteau. It doesn’t yet live in the Oxford dictionary alongside equally good words like edutainment, brunch, guestimate and chortle. One day it will though. And when it does I’m certain my sister would claim it’s her creation.

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