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Blends

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English

Have you ever wondered how new words are created in English? This topic relates to neologism, which refers to how new words are created, or how existing words are given new meanings.

Today we will be focusing on blends, a specific type of neologism. We will explain blends, look at why we blend words, and give some examples. As you read through the article, consider how many blended words you are already familiar with!

Before we dive in, let’s begin by looking at the ways in which new words are made.

What are different types of neologisms?

There are lots of different ways to create new words; here are some below:

  1. Derivation - adding prefixes or suffixes to existing words.

  2. Back-formation - the opposite of derivation; removing a prefix or suffix from an existing word.

  3. Compounding - two existing words that are either hyphenated or formed into one word.

  4. Repurposing - taking a word that is in a certain context and putting it into a different context.

  5. Conversion - taking a word that is in a certain word class and using it as another word class.

  6. Eponyms - words that are named after places or people.

  7. Loanwords - words that are borrowed from other languages.

  8. Onomatopoeia - words that are created by imitating a sound.

  9. Reduplication - words or sounds in words that are repeated (either fully or partially).

  10. Occasionalism - words that are invented for a particular occasion in which there is not already an existing word.

  11. Error - words that are created as a result of misspellings or mispronunciations.

  12. Clipping (truncation) - part of a longer word is removed to create a new, shorter word with the same meaning.

  13. Abbreviations - this refers to the shortening of a longer word.

And finally, the focus of this article: blends.

What are blends?

In terms of English grammar, blends refer to words that are formed by taking parts of two different words and putting them together to create a new word. Think of blending up two fruits to make a smoothie...

Blends, Blender, StudySmarterBlender, Yao Charlen from pixabay.com

But do that with words instead!

Unlike some ways of forming words that don't change the meaning (such as clipping or abbreviating), blending two words together creates a new word with a different meaning. If you are aware of the separate words that are used to create a blend, you will be more likely to understand the meaning of the new word, as it usually combines the meanings of the two existing words!

A synonym for a blend word is a portmanteau, a term coined by author Lewis Carroll to describe the combining of two words.

What are the different types of blends?

There are a couple of different types of blends.

The first type we will look at are often referred to as total blends, as they involve taking different parts of words and combining them to create a new one.

The first way to create a total blend is to take the beginning of one word and merge it with the end of another. Here are some examples:

  • Breakfast + Lunch = Brunch

Brunch is a meal eaten in the late morning, combining a late breakfast and an early lunch.

  • Global + English = Globish

Globish refers to a simplified form of English used to help non-native speakers.

Another way of creating a total blend is to take the beginning of one word and join it with the beginning of another. For example:

  • Situation + Comedy = Sitcom

Sitcom is a genre of comedy programme that usually involves the same characters in each episode.

  • Motor + Pedaler = Moped

Moped is a type of small motorbike.

Blends can also be created by overlapping words, where two parts of each word contain the same letter(s). For example:

  • Smoke + Fog = Smog

Smog is a smoky fog; usually refers to air pollution.

  • Motor + Hotel = Motel

A motel is a hotel for people who travel by car.

As opposed to total blends, we can also create partial blends. This means taking a whole word and combining it with part of another word. For example:

  • Stay + Vacation = Staycation

A staycation is a holiday from home.

  • Dumb + Confound = Dumbfound

Used to describe a feeling of amazement.

Why do we blend words?

There are different reasons for blending words. Here are a few!

For ease of communication.

For example, instead of saying “I’m getting my camera recorder”, you could say “I’m getting my camcorder”.

Or, instead of saying “I’m filming a video blog”, you could say “I’m filming a vlog.”

The word ‘blog’ itself is a blend of ‘web’ and ‘log’.

To describe something new that is similar to two existing things or ideas, but does not have its own word yet.

For example, the combination of the words ‘spoon’ and ‘fork’ create the blend ‘spork’. A spork is a utensil that resembles a mixture of both a spoon and a fork.

Or, the combination of ‘jeans’ and ‘leggings’ creates ‘jeggings’, which are leggings that are made to look like jeans.

To create popular words or phrases that can become a trend or be used by the mass public.

In particular, words can now often become trendy through social media, creating a sense of community on the internet and gaining global popularity.

Blends, social media icons, StudySmarterSocial media icons, pixabay.com

For example, the word 'hangry' is a popular informal term combining the words ‘hungry’ and ‘angry’. It is used to describe the feeling of being hungry and angry at the same time.

Or, the term 'shopaholic', which combines the words ‘shop’ and ‘alcoholic’ to refer to someone who shops to excess, or possibly becomes addicted to shopping!

Blends - Key takeaways

  • Blends are words that are formed by taking parts of two different words and putting them together to create a new word.
  • Blending two words together creates a new word with a different meaning. This is different to some other ways of word formation (e.g. clipping, abbreviations) in which the meanings do not change.
  • There are two different types of blend: total and partial.
  • Blended words can also overlap with one another (contain the same letters in each individual word).
  • We blend words for ease of communication, to create new terms for things/ideas that are similar to existing things, and to create trendy words that can go mainstream.

Blends

An example of a blend is the word 'emoticon', which is a combination of the words 'emotion' and 'icon'.

A word that is formed by taking parts of two different words and putting them together to create a new word with a different meaning.

A partial blend refers to a word created by combining one whole word with part of another.

A total blend refers to a word created by combining part of a word with part of another.

A portmanteau is a synonym for a blend word. It was coined by author Lewis Carroll to describe the combining of two words.

Final Blends Quiz

Question

What is a blend?

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Answer

A word that is formed by taking parts of two different words and putting them together to create a new word with a different meaning.

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Question

What does a partial blend refer to?

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Answer

A word created by combining one whole word with part of another.

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Question

What does a total blend refer to?

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Answer

A word created by combining part of a word with part of another.

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Question

True or false?


A portmanteau word is an antonym for a blend word.

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Answer

False

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Question

True or false?


Blends can consist of two words that overlap.

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Answer

True

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Question

The words 'friend' and 'enemy' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

Frenemy

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The words 'glamorous' and 'camping' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

Glamping

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Who coined the term 'portmanteau word'?

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Answer

Lewis Carroll

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Question

The blend word 'mocktail' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

Mock and cocktail

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The blend word 'romcom' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

Romantic and comedy

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A blend is also known as what?

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Answer

A portmanteau

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Question

The words 'hungry' and 'angry' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

hangry

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Question

There are two main types of blends. What are they?

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Answer

Total blends and partial blends

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Question

True or false?


Blending two words together creates a new word with a different meaning.

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Answer

True

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Question

What type of blend involves combining part of a word with part of another?

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Answer

Total blend

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Question

What type of blend involves combining one whole word with part of another?

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Answer

Partial blend

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Question

The blend word 'docudrama' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

Documentary and drama

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Question

The blend word 'brunch' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

Breakfast and lunch

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Question

The words 'smoke' and 'fog' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

Smog

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Question

The words 'emotion' and 'icon' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

Emoticon

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Question

Fill in the blank:


A blend is a type of _________.

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Answer

neologism

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Question

True or false?


Neologism refers to how new words are created, or how existing words are given new meanings.

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

The blend word 'blog' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

web and log

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Question

The words 'camera' and 'recorder' can combine to form which blend word?

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Answer

Camcorder

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Question

The blend word 'spork' is made up of which two root words?

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Answer

Spoon and fork

Show question

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