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Jan 1, 2018
This week’s theme
Blend words

This week’s words
voluntourism
hokum
squirl
satisfice
scrouge

voluntourism
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

What does an ‘infomercial’ have in common with a ‘motel’? Or a ‘workaholic’ with a ‘paratrooper’? Each of these words is coined by fusing two words together.

Portmanteaux, as these blend words are called, are a bringing together of two or more words. Sometimes the union is perfect (motor + hotel = motel). At other times, it’s more like a shotgun marriage, as in today’s word, voluntourism.

What portmanteaux have you coined? Share them below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. Many times a word is coined by two people independently -- make sure to google to see if the word you have coined already exists.

voluntourism

PRONUNCIATION:
(vah-luhn-TOOR-i-zuhm)

MEANING:
noun: Tourism in which travelers do volunteer work.

ETYMOLOGY:
A blend of volunteer + tourism. Earliest documented use: 1991.

NOTES:
Many years ago, fresh out of college, I was traveling for a job interview and started chatting with an old man sitting next to me on the train. Somehow the discussion went to volunteer work and when I claimed that sometimes I do selfless work, he said, “Well, son, everything I do is for myself.” Years later, I realized the truth of his words.

While voluntourism may be well-intentioned, it may not always be the best way to help. See here and here, for example. Consider volunteering with specialized organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, Translators without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, etc. or donating to them.

USAGE:
“‘We’re all voluntourists,’ smiled Carrie, brandishing her pitchfork. ‘Came down to see what we can do.’”
Tim Lott; Under the Same Stars; Simon & Schuster; 2012.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. -J.D. Salinger, writer (1 Jan 1919-2010)

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