In the Winter Bash 2015 FAQs is the following FAQ:

'Hats? People will do anything to get a hat! It'll be anarchy! Hatarchy!

Worry not! All normal site rules still apply...'


Is Hatarchy a portmanteau word?


Is it a blend word?


Do both apply? Is it called something else?

My current though unclear understanding from reading the above definitions and the top answer to this question (there is some uncertainty in the answer) would lean it towards it being a portmanteau?

As an aside although possibly connected point; hat comes from old English with Germanic origins and anarchy dates back to the 16th century; whilst portmanteau is a “fairly recent arrival” to our language [Lewis Carroll]. What were portmanteau or blend words called prior to the 1870's?

  • Do you have a reference saying that blending is completely productive? While I'd join in the amusement at the nonce 'hatarchy', I wouldn't think that it would be generally considered to be part of the English lexicon at this point in time. Dec 16, 2015 at 0:18
  • @EdwinAshworth. Which is why my last part of the actual question states ' Is it called something else'? If 'This is just a made-up word for the purposes of a pun' is the basis for an answer, then I would appreciate your input.
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 1:08
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    @EdwinAshworth. “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is in a dictionary
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:21
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    @EdwinAshworth. Do you have any evidence that 'almost no one will understand it?'
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:33
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    @EdwinAshworth. The time and effort spent in your comment writing and research, would have given an excellent answer. Please spend less time deriding the efforts of others, try spending your time more constructively, maybe actually answer a question? Or think of your own question. You'll probably be a happier person too :-)
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


From Encyclopedia Briannica:

New words come into English in many ways (borrowing, backformation, verbing nouns, acronyms, etc), but the most visible word formations in Modern English tend to be blends. Blends (or portmanteaus) are created when at least two words are shoved together physically and phonetically to form a new word. Smog, frenemy, bloggorhea, hacktivist, cronut, phablet, sext, guyliner; they stick out as neologisms, and being visible means they endure a lot of public scrutiny.

So hatarchy qualifies as a blend, which is also a portmanteau, because hat and anarchy have been shoved together and the an- has fallen off anarchy.

Or is it a clipped compound? Encyclopedia Briannica continues:

In her [2014 thesis on English blends] conclusions, [Natalia] Beliaeva makes a smart distinction between clipping compounds and blends, determining that there are different motivations and methods that lead to their shortening and grouping in certain ways.

For her, clipping compounds come from existing phrases such as “National Biscuit Company” and “optical to tactile converter” which are then reduced down to their initial sounds to create Nabisco and Optacon, respectively. Other clipping compounds include NaNoWriMo, Biz Cas Fri, ampersand, Filoli, SoLoMo, romzomcom, sudoopoo, Tribeca, and Dowistrepla. There are two-part clipping compounds too, including retcon, pro-am, sci-fi, sitcom, Pokémon, and MoCap. In clipping compounds, the words are represented by their first segments (similar to acronyms, but slightly longer).

Blends, on the other hand, do not come from pre-existing phrases. Their concepts are brought together and shortened into one word simultaneously. All of the examples from the first paragraph are blends of this kind. These seem more productive than clipping, and usually include the first part of one word, and the last part of the other, resulting in a somewhat natural-sounding word.

No, hat anarchy was not a pre-existing phrase before hatbash, and is thus a two-part blend and not a clipped compound.

So is there a difference between a blend and a portmanteau?

Some do make a finer distinction:

Linguists have also taken up the word and created the technical linguistics term "portmanteau morpheme" to describe morphemes that fuse two or more grammatical categories. Linguists reserve "portmanteau" for this usage only, ignoring Carroll's original intent, and refer to portmanteau words by the less interesting term "blends."

But on the whole I'd say they're generally interchangeable.

  • Are you saying that portmanteau and blend have the same meaning in your second paragraph?
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 15, 2015 at 21:33
  • @Christopher I've edited and added a bit to address that. Short version: generally, yes. Occasionally in very technical use, no.
    – Hugo
    Dec 15, 2015 at 21:52
  • Are you saying that any such DIY construct should be considered a word? I'm stating now that 'titferarchy' is not part of the English lexicon. Dec 16, 2015 at 11:40
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    Sure, why not? It looks like a word to me.
    – Hugo
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:48
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    Where do you draw the line for isawordiness? What makes one thing a word and other things not?
    – Hugo
    Dec 16, 2015 at 14:18

From that wikipedia link you provided, it would appear that all portmanteaus are blend words. However, while hatarchy may be a blend of hat + anarchy, -archy is already a suffix meaning "rule" or "government". Thus monarchy is rule by a king or queen, hagiarchy is rule by the church or holy people, etc. So hatarchy is rule by hats.

This list shows other English words that end with -archy.

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    Whilst I like hatarchy <= hat + archy <= rule by hats, the hatarchy in this particlar question is Hats? People will do anything to get a hat! It'll be anarchy! Hatarchy! => hat + anarchy => hatarchy.
    – Hugo
    Dec 15, 2015 at 21:55
  • Can you expand on your first sentence please? 'it would appear' sounds a bit vague.
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 11:08
  • @Christopher I'm saying that portmanteaus are a subset of blend words. Dec 16, 2015 at 12:45
  • Thanks Mr.S... IMO it would be worth including that in your answer.
    – 7caifyi
    Dec 16, 2015 at 12:57
  • @Hugo Who can say for sure if a productive suffix is used to form a word, or if a word with that suffix is truncated to only that suffix for use in a portmanteau? If they had written Instead of demarchy, we'll have anarchy! No, Hatarchy!, would it still be a portmanteau of hat + anarchy? I'd say it's impossible to be sure without asking the author, and furthermore I'd argue that either case is indistinguishable from the other when dealing with a suffix like this. Dec 16, 2015 at 14:28

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