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June 9, 2015

In today's fast paced, high tech world of instant communications we're
dumbing down to the bare bones of our vocabularies. And it's sad,
really, the way we've let certain nouns and adjectives fall to disuse.

One such word that you don't hear very often is portmanteau.  In fact,
it's so rarely used that most young people don't even know its meaning.

Portmanteau - noun (port-man-toe) a case or bag to carry clothing in while
traveling, especially a leather trunk or suitcase that opens into two halves.


Remember the beautiful portmanteaus in Tom
Hanks' 1990 movie, Joe Versus The Volcano

Strapped together, they saved his and Meg Ryan's lives.  If you haven't
seen this movie add it to your Bucket List.  If you have, watch it again.



 The word portmanteau is mentioned throughout literature.  You'll find
it in The Three Musketeers, Great Expectations, War and Peace, Don
Quixote, and even in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

"I had reduced my luggage to as small a compass as possible.
It consisted of two small portmanteaus which would go under
my bunk . . . . ."  The Special Envoy, Charles D. Leslie, page 303

". . .  . which I had seen my little portmanteau safely stowed,
and upon which piles of additional bags and boxes were now
heaped."  Villette, Charlotte Bronte, page 68

"And my portmanteau, with my few clothes and little pocket-book
enclasping the remnant of my fifteen pounds, where were they?"
Villette, Charlotte Bronte, page 72

A portmanteau can also be a small traveling bag:

"As he reached the foot of the slope, an elderly horseman, with
his portmanteau strapped behind him, stopped his horse when
Adam had passed him . . . . . "  Adam Bede, George Eliot

An 1880's leather and brass portmanteau:

The last two are the types of images I picture when I
read about a traveling gentleman in classic literature.

Well, I don't possess a portmanteau but I am traveling with a
couple of sturdy suitcases as I fly back home to Alabama today.
Hopefully, I won't encounter a volcano.


  1. I did not know that the word existed. I must have read the word "Portmanteau" cause I did read the Three Musketeers in high school. I am much older now. I could have forgotten. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lovely word and suitcases.

    cheers, parsnip