[pawrt-man-toh, pohrt-; pawrt-man-toh, pohrt-]
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noun, plural port·man·teaus, port·man·teaux [pawrt-man-tohz, -toh, pohrt-; pawrt-man-tohz, -toh, pohrt-] /pɔrtˈmæn toʊz, -toʊ, poʊrt-; ˌpɔrt mænˈtoʊz, -ˈtoʊ, ˌpoʊrt-/. Chiefly British.
  1. a case or bag to carry clothing in while traveling, especially a leather trunk or suitcase that opens into two halves.
  2. Also called portmanteau word. Linguistics. blend(def 10).

Origin of portmanteau

1575–85; < French portemanteau literally, (it) carries (the) cloak; see port5, mantle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for portmanteau

bag, valise, luggage, gladstone

Examples from the Web for portmanteau

Contemporary Examples of portmanteau

Historical Examples of portmanteau

  • They returned home just as it was growing dark, laden with basket and portmanteau.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • The other bundled some linen and brushes into the portmanteau.

  • He sought a steward, and asked him to carry the portmanteau to berth 159.

  • The young man said quietly to the steward, "Take out the portmanteau, please."

  • It requires a special genius, you know, to pack a portmanteau properly.

British Dictionary definitions for portmanteau


noun plural -teaus or -teaux (-təʊz)
  1. (formerly) a large travelling case made of stiff leather, esp one hinged at the back so as to open out into two compartments
  2. (modifier) embodying several uses or qualitiesthe heroine is a portmanteau figure of all the virtues

Word Origin for portmanteau

C16: from French: cloak carrier, from porter to carry + manteau cloak, mantle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for portmanteau

1580s, "traveling case or bag for clothes and other necessaries," from Middle French portemanteau "traveling bag," originally "court official who carried a prince's mantle" (1540s), from porte, imperative of porter "to carry" (see porter (n.1)) + manteau "cloak" (see mantle (n.)).

Portmanteau word "word blending the sound of two different words" (1882), coined by "Lewis Carroll" (Charles L. Dodgson, 1832-1898) for the sort of words he invented for "Jabberwocky," on notion of "two meanings packed up into one word." As a noun in this sense from 1872.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper