I'm thinking of names composed by taking a longer work and breaking it up into two words that sort of work on their own.


  • "Aunt Chiladas" (a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix)
  • "Sir Vezas" (a Mexican restaurant in Tucson)

This page has a bunch of other examples.

Is there a specific term for this type of play on words?


1 Answer 1


That sort of play on words is often called an oronym.

Homophones of multiple words or phrases (as sometimes seen in word games) are also known as "oronyms". This term was coined by Gyles Brandreth and first published in his book The Joy of Lex (1980), and it was used in the BBC programme Never Mind the Full Stops, which also featured Brandreth as a guest.

Examples of "oronyms" (which may only be true homophones in certain dialects of English) include:

"ice cream" vs. "I scream" (as in the popular song "I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.")

"euthanasia" vs. "Youth in Asia"

"depend" vs. "deep end"

"Gemini" vs. "Jim and I" vs. "Jem in eye"

"the sky" vs. "this guy" (most notably as a mondegreen in Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix)

"four candles" vs. "fork handles"

However, as a caveat, oronym is not an antonym for portmanteau. It just refers to words or phrases that sound the same, and the meaning goes both ways. But it is a term for that sort of play on words.

  • Thanks! I updated the question to get rid of the reference to portmanteau.
    – Dathan
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 21:18
  • The term 'oronym' was given in the duplicate. Commented Jan 8, 2022 at 11:03

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