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Portmanteaux in Engineering

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This page probably falls somewhere in between trivia and useless information, but we'll go ahead and paste it up anyway, on account of we have terabytes of bandwidth...

Portmanteaux in Engineering

Rocking those skorts (or is it a skort?)


Portmanteaux in Engineering


Portmanteaux (that's the plural of portmanteau, do you ken, laddie?) are literary devices that combine two words into one with a blended meaning, like motel (motor hotel), spork (spoon fork) and skorts (skirt shorts, sometimes simply "skort"). Portmanteau is similar, but different from an acronym, which uses just a letter or two of words in a string to produce a new word or name.

The origin of the word has something to do with a suitcase that had two compartments, according to Wikipedia. Check out Wikipedia's post on Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky and you'll learn portmanteau from the master.

Engineers and their friends in marketing tend to be portmanteau creators, without even knowing the term. We'll throw out a few here and keep adding to the list as we come across more. Be sure to reference this page when you write your term paper on the subject...

alnico (aluminum nickel cobalt) technically this might be considered an acronym...

avionics (aviation electronics)

balun (balanced unbalanced)

blog (web log)

carrottenuator (carrot attenuator)

chemtrails (chemical trails) Part of the modernity of stupidity, which seems to be accelerating when you consider what went down in 2016.  Chemtrail people believe that the government is dumping chemicals on the population for nefarious purposes.  The same people that believe that it is impossible that mankind is the culprit in global warming. Thankfully, sylphs are known to eat chemtrails. See contrails, below.

chemtrails 800

Chemtrail people might be experts in science and government policy but they are not masters of the English language. They  are known to carry ladders with them so they can post signs high enough so passersby can't rip them down.

codec (coder-decoder)

compansion, compander (compression expansion)

conops (concept of operation)

contrails (condensation trails) Don't be alarmed... chamtrails are just contrails.  Go back in your house, there's nothing to see here...

diabesity (diabetes, obesity) a new term for Type II diabetes

elevon (elevator aileron)

email (electronic mail)

flexguide (flexible waveguide)

Flybrid (flywheel hybrid, a cool new technology for storing an releasing kinetic energy, the name is trademarked by a British Company, Flybrid Systems)

Fractenna (fractal antenna, thanks to Thomas! Fractal Antenna is an antenna company)

FraudoCAD (free AutoCAD)

freeware (free software)

gigital (gigahertz digital)

Greengineering (green engineering, actually a trademark of a land development company that should be able to cash in on it)

HELIAX helical coax, a registered trademark of Andrews LLC

HiFi (high fidelity, remember that?)

klystron (Greek word "klyzo", which refers to waves breaking on a beach, combined with "electron")

linac (linear accelerator)

LORAN (ling range navigation, invented by Hall-of-Famer Alfred Lee Loomis)

mantenna (man antenna)

magnetron (magnet electron) thanks to Giorgio from Italy!

memristor (memory resistor)

modem (modulator demodulator) also thanks to Giorgio from Italy!

multipactor (multiple impactor)

nichrome (nickel chromium)

op-amp (operational amplifier)

paramp (parametric amplifier)

photonics (photo electronics)

pleather (plastic leather)

Pokemon (pocket monster) Come to think of it, many of Pokemon names are portmanteaux...

polarotor (polarization rotator)

radome (radar dome)

rectenna (rectifier antenna)

rectax (rectangular coax)

refudiate (something Sarah Palin once made up by accident out of Alaskan ignorance)

robocop (robot cop)

rojo (rotary joint)

rotodome (rotary radome)

satcom (satellite communications, often SATCOM or SatComm)

squarax (square coax)

stalo (stable local oscillator)

sysop (system operator)

smog (smoke fog) (thanks to Drew!)

stiction (static friction, a problem associated with MEMS)

switchplexer® (switch multiplexer, trademark of Murata)

tabletizer (tablet digitizer, mostly obsoleted by touch screens)

tarmac (tar macadam) Scottish Engineer John McAdam developed the science of how to surface roads back in the 18th century known, in a process that came to be known as "macadam". Edgar Hooley patented a tar-gravel mix in 1902 in England and launched a business. Hooley's floundering Tarmac company was bought by Alfred Hickman in 1905 and who used steel mill tailings in the tarmac process, a win-win situation. Today, "tarmac" is used interchangeably with the word "asphalt".

thermistor (thermal resistor)

transceiver (transmitter receiver) (thanks to Drew!)

transistor (transfer resistor, coined by John Robinson Pierce)

transponder (transmitter responder)

turbojet (turbine jet)

turbofan (turbine ducted fan)

varactor (voltage variable capacitor)

varistor (voltage variable resistor) (thanks to Drew!)

vocoder (voice encoder, examples include military and musical)

WiBro (wireless broadband, a standard of Korea)

WiMax (wireless maximum)

WiFi (wireless fidelity)

WiGig (Wireless Gigabit)

Keep them coming, girls and boys!


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