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Jan 7, 2019
This week’s theme
Portmanteaux (blend words)

This week’s words
rurban
squiggle
palimony
guesstimate
contraption

rurban
Image: R-Urban

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A portmanteau is a word coined by fusing two or more words, such as motel from motor + hotel. Portmanteauing is a popular way to coin words (see here, here, and here), but some people get carried away.

Meet Dr. Thomas Walter Murphy VII, a computer scientist from Pittsburgh. He gathered all the words he could find (more than 100,000) and jammed them into a single portmanteau to come up with a word 611,820 letters long.

Nice, but what a half-assed effort! I mean, where are the definition and the pronunciation of this new baby? And how about having the courtesy to include a usage example or two from a newspaper, magazine, or a book?

Seriously though, it’s splendid -- the idea as well as the execution. Tom 7 can chillax (chill + relax) now. We’ll wait to feature his coinage in A.Word.A.Day until it gains wider acceptance and we can find a citation for the word from The Economist or even a Mills & Boon romance.

Until then, we’ll share with you other portmanteaux that are already a part of the English language.

rurban

PRONUNCIATION:
(RUHR-buhn)

MEANING:
adjective: Having characteristics of both rural and urban life.

ETYMOLOGY:
A blend of rural + urban, from Latin rus (country) and urbs (city). Earliest documented use: 1915.

USAGE:
“Finance Minister Doug Horner ... calls himself a rurban MLA because he lives in an urban riding [district] but has land in rural area.”
Darcy Henton; Cuts to Farming ‘Slap in the Face’; Calgary Herald (Canada); Mar 9, 2013.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is not only vital for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself -- a point that seems to escape many people. -Gerald Durrell, naturalist and author (7 Jan 1925-1995)

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