Users of the English language love to put two existing words together to make a brand new word. They’ve been doing it for hundreds of years quite freely and prolifically. This can be as simple as adding words to other words to form a compound, for example a list of things to do is a to-do list. Often words are combined in more creative ways where parts of different words are combined in new ways. For example, a meal that comes between breakfast time and lunch time is called brunch. The word ‘mashup’ may be a relatively new word in English (it was added to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary for the eighth edition in 2010), but the concept itself is as old as the hills!
Right now in the UK, there is much talk of Brexit: will Britain exit the European Union? We will know soon, as there is to be a referendum on June 23rd. The topic of whether the UK will remain or leave the EU is controversial, of course, and has divided politicians, political parties, and voters. The result may be too close to call – we will have to wait and see. The word Brexit already has an entry in the online edition of OALD, and you can hardly listen to a news bulletin here in the UK without hearing the word.
This blending of two words together to make one new word is one of the richest sources of new vocabulary in English, as you may have already read in our recent blog, which mentions some of the portmanteau words recently added to OALD online.
So, how good is your knowledge of blended words in English? Try this small test!
How are the two highlighted words in each line below combined to form a new word? The answers are at the bottom of the page, with links to the entries in OALD:
- a weather phenomenon that is a mixture of SMOKE and FOG
- a SEMINAR that is conducted over the Internet on the WEB
- the feeling of being ANGRY because you are HUNGRY
- a FRIEND who is not really a friend but is more of an ENEMY
- an eating utensil that is a combination of a FORK and a SPOON
- clothing for your legs that are LEGGINGS that look like JEANS
We will continue to keep our eyes and ears open for new blended words to add to OALD online – they are definitely here to stay! The question is, will Britain stay as part of the EU?
About the author: Jennifer Bradbery is Digital Product Development Manager at Oxford University Press. Before joining OUP, she spent many years teaching students and training teachers.
Is there a word or phrase you would like to see featured as Word of the Month? It should be something that is new to the language or something that is being used in a new way. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment. (All comments will need to be approved before they appear on the site.)