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Malamanteau – Defining A New Word

There are numerous reasons new words are created, but “malamanteau” is confounding many people. If you’re a fan of XKCD the web comic, you saw what one author believes malamanteau means. However, if you’ve heard malamanteau as the word of the day at the coffee shop or water cooler, you may be wondering what the heck it means. No, it doesn’t have to do with love, mathematics, loan until payday or sarcasm. Malamanteau is, compared to all other things, simple.

How the author describes malamanteau

On XKCD this morning, the author drew a non-existent Wikipedia page for the word “malamanteau.” To be clear: this Wikipedia page did not exist at the time, but it now does, and redirects to XKCD. XKCD defined malamanteau as “a neologism for a portmanteau created by incorrectly combining a malapropism with a neologism.” This definition left even the smartest of financial types asking “huh?”

Malamanteau, the meaning broken down

You are able to start making sense of malamanteau if you break down the definition. Neologism is a large word that just means “a new word”. Words blended together to create one word are known as a portmanteau. Any word that blends both the sound and also the meaning of two words is a portmanteau – for instance, “don’t” is a portmanteau of “do” and “not.” Finally, a malapropism is where one word is substituted for another that sounds the exact same – but doesn’t mean the very same. Malapropism just means “inappropriate.” Using alligator instead of allegory is a malapropism.

What malamanteau really means

So, what does malamanteau really mean? Mixing a wrong word with a new word creates, then, a malamanteau. Mix “masil” and “obliterate” to create “masillerterate” to describe stock market crash ruining the economy.

Malamanteau is in and of itself a malamanteau.

Resources for the article

XKCD – Defining A New Word

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