I'm wondering if there is a term that describes any given physical device that is a "spiritual" combination of two other devices. Meaning, it mimics the form and function of both parent devices.


  • Spork (combination of a spoon and a fork)
  • Halberd (combination of a staff and an axe)
  • Calculator Watch (combination of a calculator and a watch)

To explain via analogy, "Portmanteau is to words as _____ is to devices"

  • 2
    Perhaps this one is a bit of a stretch, but you might be able to use Swiss army knife, in a simile, or as a metaphor. That's what this headline writer did.
    – J.R.
    Jan 7 '14 at 20:24
  • 1
    'Batpig' would more probably be called a chimera. Jan 8 '14 at 8:52
  • @EdwinAshworth haha I didn't even think of the connection there, it's just what I call my French Bulldog. Jan 8 '14 at 14:49
  • @EdwinAshworth That is clever! Thankfully, batpigandme a.k.a. batpig is the very opposite of chimera-like. Hi batpigandme! It is I, Ellie! Jan 9 '14 at 14:05

I would propose the term hybrid:

hybrid - a thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture

By analogy from agriculture, it could casually be called a cross, as in a cross between A and B where A and B (… Z) are its components.

A mattock is a cross between a pick and an adze.

In certain fields, notably music and web-based software applications, the term mashup has currency. A song mashup combines two or more pre-recorded songs into a new composition. A web mashup is typically a presentation combining data from multiple sources, for example displaying the sources of Tweets on a Google Map. But only the most vacuous analyst or marketer would call a spork or a mattock a mashup.

A more derisive term would be bastard, which connotes some imperfection in or prejudice against either the lineage or the combination, and is mildly offensive in some quarters. MacOS is the bastard of the Mach kernel and BSD.


A traditional term, at least for machinery, is mule.

Samuel Crompton invented the 'spinning mule' or 'mule jenny' in 1779, so called because it is a hybrid of Arkwright's water frame and James Hargreaves' spinning jenny in the same way that mule is the product of crossbreeding a female horse with a male donkey. The 'muledozer' was / is a hybrid standard agricultural tractor / dozer.

The noun is also used attributively for at least one one hybrid item of furniture.


The closest I can think of is "hybrid device", although it's not one word.


I believe phablet would meet the requirements of being a

a physical device that is a combination of two other devices

phone + tablet = phablet. Granted, it's of relatively recent coinage.

  • 6
    It's definitely an example of one, is there a generic term for this though? Jan 7 '14 at 18:09

"Compound" or "Combination (combo)" seem to fit this description.

Also, the prefix "multi" is sometimes slapped onto other words to show relationships similar to what you've described.

"Multi-tool" one tool that has multiple functionalities, usually because it is the combination of multiple tools.

"Multiplex" a movie theater that is made up of multiple screens.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.