Why Do Word Blends with Near-Synonymous Composites Exist and Persist? The Case of Guesstimate, Chillax, Ginormous and Confuzzled

Thomas Rhys Evans, Gail Steptoe-Warren

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    63 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Despite their increasing use, little is known about the purpose of word blends, e.g. chillax, which have near-synonymous composite words (relax and chill). Potential explanations for their existence and persistence include: use in different sentence constructions, to provide unique meaning, and to create interest/identity. Th e current study used a vignette methodology with two-hundred and forty-one students to explore the relevance of such hypotheses for ‘guesstimate’, ‘chillax’, ‘ginormous’, and ‘confuzzled’. Our inconsistent results suggest that the semantics of the word blends may diff er from their composites in very subtle ways. However further work is needed to acknowledge and determine the impact of context upon the use and consequences of these word blends.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-28
    Number of pages9
    JournalPsychology of Language and Communication
    Volume19
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2015

    Bibliographical note

    © by Thomas Rhys Evans. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

    Keywords

    • word blends
    • synonyms
    • portmanteau
    • blends
    • words
    • language

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