Monday, February 6, 2012

Neologisms Specifically Retronyms and Portmanteau Words

A retronym is a new name, modifier or phrase for an object or event used to differentiate it from the original form or version. A change is necessary because the first word is ambiguous or technology has advanced so that a single word or phrase no longer adequately describes the word. One example is The Great War. The "war to end all wars" it was called until another world-wide set of hostilities erupted. Thus The Great War was retronymed World War I and the second global war World War II. "Please bring me a glass of milk and my book" no long gives enough information.

MILK: whole, 2%, 1%, fat free, soy, organic, calcium enriched, lactose free, chocolate, raw, acidophilus, condensed, evaporated, powered, buttermilk
BOOK: hard cover, soft cover, paperback, trade paperback, self-published, e-book, audio, phone book, address book
LAWN MOWER: push, electric or riding
MOVIES: silent, talkies, DVDs, in-theater, in-home, video cams
COFFEE : regular, decaf, flavored, instant, latte, espresso, iced, Irish, white, frappe, cappuccino, cafe au lait + 65 others
MOTHER: biological, adoptive, surrogate
OVEN: microwave, conventional, convection, gas, electric, toaster
COKE: regular, caffeine free, diet, Classic, diet caffeine free
SOAP: bar, gel, anti-bacterial, body wash, f0am, lotion, natural, African black, exfoliating, anti-aging, acne fighting
TELEPHONE: push button, rotary dial, land-line, mobile, cell, wireless, iChat, Skype
TELEVISION: analog, digital, plasma, high definition, LCD, wall-mount, stand alone
SUIT: men's suits, pants suit, skirt suit
FRESHMAN: first year student, red shirt, true freshman, walk-on
DIAPER: cloth, disposable
BICYCLE: two-wheeler, unicycle, electric, recumbent, retro, mountain, street, racing
WATER: tap, sparkling, designer brand, flavored, distilled, filtered, rain water, gray water, bottled
COPY: hard copy, carbon copy, electronic copy, paper copy, FAX
[New York Times, "Retronym", William Safire, 1/7/2007]

PORTMANTEAU WORDS are new words made from two existing words. (Lewis Carroll, 1871 in Alice Through The Looking Glass) Plural: portmanteaus or portmanteaux. In French, a portmanteau is a suitcase with two compartments.

BIONIC: biology+electronic
MOPED: motor+pedal
MOTEL: motor+hotel
REPUBLICRAT: middle of the road political believer
EZINE: electronic+magazine
BLOG: web+log
SNIRT: snow+dirt especially blowing in the air
GLOBISH: globe+English, an international business language of 1,500 English words and grammatical structure understood and used around the world
GLEETS: gloves+feet, shoes with individual spaces for toes
GEEP: hybrid animal mixing a goat+a sheep
CHUNNEL: English Channel+tunnel
INTERNET: international network
GOOD-BYE: God+be(with)+you
CROISSANDWICH: croissant+sandwich ingredients
GENOME: gene+chromosome
VOLUNTOLD: volunteer+told, being told you were "volunteered" for a task
DIABESITY: diabetes+obesity
PIXEL: picture+element
KARAOKE: two Japanese words meaning empty orchestra
PULSAR: pulsating+star
LIGER: lion+tiger

Look this week for another post on neologisms: backronyms.


Somerset wedding gal said...

Informative! (Just reacting alongside my initial reaction!)

Mary Jane Honegger said...

Such a pleasure to learn more neologisms from our resident expert. I had never heard of a "retronym" but know I know how to recognize them when I run into them. Oops, gotta go. I have some snirt in my eye. Darn North Idaho wind!