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    Carrey’s Got a Brand New Bag

    portmanteau_carrey.jpgQuote:  “I don’t want to pick scripts to keep me in the statusphere.” Actor Jim Carrey in Time.

    Figure of Speech:  portmanteau (port-man-TOW), the hybrid word.

    Jim Carrey no longer makes $20 million a picture, and not because his characters tend to be annoying, you see.  It’s because he takes chances.  “You have to take the plunge to expose your true self,” he says, mixing metaphors (unless he means to depict himself losing his swim trunks).  His true self would rather take a dive than soar to the statusphere.  That’s a perfect portmanteau, a neologism that smooshes two words together and combines their meanings. 

    Originally,  a portmanteau carried a nobleman’s luggage.  Later the word referred to a bag  slung onto a horse, which evolved into a suitcase that opens like a book.  Then Lewis Carroll analogized it.  In Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains that slithy combines lithe and slimy, mimsy hybridizes miserable and flimsy, and so on.  “You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

    Carrey’s statusphere combines status and stratosphere, of course.  (The wimpy copy editor at Time spoiled it by inserting a hyphen between the syllables, a punctilio up with which Figaro will not put.)  Other recent portmanteaux:  glitterati, any scandal ending in “gate,” spork, biopic, cyborg, animatronics… Figaro welcomes more neo-portmanteaux.

    Snappy Answer:  “You’re a walking portmanteau yourself.  Which makes you a Carreyall.”

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    Reader Comments (4)

    February 23, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    nice Churchill reference["up with which I will not put"]
    March 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterglenn grab
    Political speech might be fertile ground for grouwing portmanteau, e.g. the ever-popular "Busheep"
    June 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterr e winn
    Figaro! Lovely site, I mentioned you on mine, hope that doesn't bother you.
    June 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterEden

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