Is there a word for a (possibly accidental) portmanteau of two synonyms?

For example, say, you contract "liberty" and "freedom" to "liberdom".

  • A redundoclonation?
    – bib
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 14:00
  • A slip of the tongue? A Bushism? A Malapropism? or perhaps just a mistake.
    – Thruston
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 15:42
  • a synomanteau
    – ermanen
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 15:36
  • well, if you merge portmanteau with portmanteau (and surely a word is a synonym of itself)...
    – Oldcat
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


I'm pretty sure there isn't one. Answering in the negative in such cases is fraught (it's not like I can examine every use of English ever and confirm that there is no such word), but portmanteau in this sense is relatively recent in itself, is something I come across a fair amount, and the synonym case is a common example.

Quite a few cases of Franglais are such portmanteaux, but not all Franglais terms are portmanteaux.

Pretty much all non-accidental cases would be bastardisations IME, but not all bastardisations would be portmanteaux, and some may disagree with me.

If there is a term out there for such portmanteaux, it's probably a portmanteau.

If anyone really needed to coin a term for such, I'd suggest "Gladstone Bag", going back to the first coinage's roots to coin the other.

  • Not that recent: see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portmanteau under the "Origin" heading. It comes from Lewis Caroll.
    – Thruston
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 15:40
  • 2
    @Thruston that's pretty recent as far as words go, it's not even 150 years ago.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 16:53

I think we can call it a blend by lexical selection or a blend error. Because this specifically happens when you combine two words that has a semantic similarity (mostly synonyms) rather than phonological similarity.

Blending may occur with an error in lexical selection, the process by which a speaker uses his semantic knowledge to choose words. Lewis Carroll's explanation, which gave rise to the use of 'portmanteau' for such combinations, was:

Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "frumious."

The errors are based on similarity of meanings, rather than phonological similarities, and the morphemes or phonemes stay in the same position within the syllable.

Also, Wikipedia's "Speech Error" article mentions blends as a subcategory of lexical selection errors. (which refers to the book "Cognitive Psychology: A Student's Handbook. Psychology Press")

Type of speech error: Blend

Definition: Blends are a subcategory of lexical selection errors. More than one item is being considered during speech production. Consequently, the two intended items fuse together.

Target: person/people
Error: perple

From the book "The Evolving Lexicon By Andrew Thomas Martin":

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From the book "Frames Fields and Contrasts: New Essays in Semantic and Lexical Organization edited by Adrienne Lehrer, Eva Feder Kittay, Richard Lehrer":

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In a few sources, it is mentioned as "synonym blend" as well.

From the book "Slips of the Tongue and Language Production edited by Anne Cutler":

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From the article "Spoken word production: A theory of lexical access" by by WJM Levelt:

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