I've got a coworker that frequently uses the word, "abnomaly", not "abnormal" and not "anomaly", but "abnomaly". While the types of these words differ (i.e. adjective versus noun), the meanings are clearly related. Is there a term to describe this type of linguistic compound?


3 Answers 3


As mentioned before, a portmanteau or portmanteau word is a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings. Note, however, that portmanteau examples like smog, motel, brunch have over time become accepted as words. That is not the case (yet) for abnomaly, so it's reasonable to use some other term to refer to it. Wiktionary mentions frankenword as a near-synonym of portmanteau word. The pejorative tone of frankenword may make it a better fit than portmanteau as a name for abnomaly.

Wiktionary also mentions blend, with sense “(linguistics) A word formed by combining two other words; a grammatical contamination, portmanteau word”. Referring to the blend abnomaly as a grammatical contamination seems reasonable.

From answers to a previous question, also consider:
miscegenation, “(figuratively) A mixing or blending, especially one which is considered to be inappropriate”
neologism, “a newly coined term, word, or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language”
eggcorn, “(linguistics) An idiosyncratic but semantically motivated substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound identical, or nearly so, at least in the dialect the speaker uses”
malaprop or malapropism, “The blundering use of an absurdly inappropriate word or expression in place of a similar sounding one”

  • 2
    This is the best answer. However, I would strongly disuade anyone from using the word "mescegenation". It was used by the white supremecist power structure in the Old South to invoke the supposed evil of letting black people have any role in society. It is thus so tainted (at least in the USA) that IMHO it should be left to die with them.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 28, 2013 at 16:28

portmanteau - a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings;
"'smog' is a blend of 'smoke' and 'fog'";
"'motel' is a portmanteau word made by combining 'motor' and 'hotel'";
"'brunch' is a well-known portmanteau"

portmanteau [pɔːtˈmæntəʊ]
n pl -teaus, -teaux [-təʊz]
1. (formerly) a large travelling case made of stiff leather, esp one hinged at the back so as to open out into two compartments
2. (modifier) embodying several uses or qualities the heroine is a portmanteau figure of all the virtues
[from French: cloak carrier, from porter to carry + manteau cloak, mantle]

Extract from Wikipedia:

A portmanteau (Listeni/pɔrtˈmæntoʊ/, /ˌpɔrtmænˈtoʊ/; plural portmanteaux or portmanteaus) or portmanteau word is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word. The word comes from the English portmanteau luggage (a piece of luggage with two compartments), itself derived from the French porter (to carry) and manteau (coat), which is a false friend of the French compound word porte-manteau meaning coat rack.

A portmanteau word fuses both the sounds and the meanings of its components, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph which represents two or more morphemes.


while this is said to be a portmanteau of abnormal and anomaly, when does it become a commonly accepted one? i don't think this is a good one, as the two parent words are basically the same.

definitely not a word i would use...sounds like you just don't know how to say anomaly or abnormal; like the sort of person who would say "exscape"!

and if the person listening (as in your case) is not familiar with the term then the communication isnt really working as well as it could.

ps: when referring to people, use the word who. its: "a coworker WHO...", etc.

  • While this answer has capitalization and other punctuation errors, I have to agree with the general sentiment. Using a contrived word that doesn't even have any semantic utility over its counterparts only causes unnecessary confusion.
    – asa9ohan
    Nov 18, 2020 at 4:59

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