What’s the name of two words that are put together to make another word, e.g., mobile phone, chewing gum, or credit card. I’m not sure if these would be classed as portmanteau, compounds, or something completely different, as the words are still separate and not conjoined.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


Those are compounds. From [Merriam–Webster]((//www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compound):

a word consisting of components that are words (as rowboat, high school, devil-may-care)

That they are spelt with a space in between the components is just the way English orthography works but does not affect the grammar or classification. E.g., the German language allows forming compounds in the same way, but they are always spelt as a single word, e.g.:

Mobiltelefon = mobil (mobile) + Telefon (phone)

By contrast, in a portmanteau, the components are fused such that there is no clear delineation where one component ends and the other begins. For example, if people began to say mone instead of mobile phone, this would be a portmanteau.

  • 1
    Why are you bringing German into it? I don't get it. German has words as long as a city block but that has no bearing on English.../Fyi, X allows to form/ is not grammatical in English. Otherwise, I agree with your answer.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 17:59
  • Good answer. Btw, it'd be better to mention the sources by name, in addition to the link.
    – NVZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 18:05
  • You're missing the point. Items like "credit card" are either morphological compounds, or syntactic constructions comprising head+modifier.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 18:15
  • 2
    @Lambie: Why are you bringing German into it? – Because it illustrates that word boundaries are not necessarily clearly defined in these cases but rather a matter of orthography.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 20:33

If you want the names of the 2 separate words, what about "attributive adjectives" and nouns? In your examples, the first word are all attributive adjectives (adjectives that describe and appear before a noun) and the second word is the noun being described.

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