From Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words #674 (1/27/10):
AVATARD A chorus of disagreement came from readers over this. All were sure it’s from “Avatar” + “retard”, as are “celebutard” and a few other slang terms, using “retard” in its current abusive sense of a mentally retarded person. Another term of similar origin, I am told, is “freetard”, which was supplied by several correspondents. Jeremy Ardley described it thus: “it’s an epithet used by those who pay for their software for those who choose to use free open-source software. The implication is that if you get it for free it ain’t worth diddly-squat and you’re mentally challenged if you choose to use it.” Others mentioned politically motivated insults of similar formation, such as “conservatard” (by coincidence, my newspaper last Sunday included the related term “Libtard”, though the initial
capital letter showed that it referred specifically to the British
Liberal Democrat party).
Ah, here’s a topic that combines three of my interests: playful word formation, portmanteau words, and the “liberation” of parts of words (like the three Quinion just listed), to yield word-forming elements that are semantically like the elements of compounds but are affix-like in that they are typically bound.
“Playful word formation” — sometimes called “expressive word formation”, but neither label is entirely satisfactory — picks out patterns of word formation that have a playful or show-offy character to them; instances of these patterns often strike people as innovations and as decidedly informal. Some playful examples use plain ordinary affixes (-ness and –ity, for instance, as here), but others are portmanteaus (some playful portmanteaus here), and others have the liberated elements that Quinion calls “combining forms” (but also classifies as prefixes or suffixes on the basis of their position within words), for instance –licious and its variants (which was last discussed on Language Log here, with links to earlier postings).
Another word on the liberated elements. Quinion’s “combining forms” include both liberated elements and elements from complex learnèd forms, as in thermometer. It would be nice to have a term for the liberated elements that is both more memorable than “combining forms” and also signals the origin of these elements in the reanalysis of existing words (whether the source words are ordinary words, as with –tacular, or portmanteaus, as with –dar). I suggest libfix, which can be labeled a prelibfix (prefixal) or a postlibfix (suffixal) when its position within the word is especially relevant.
I have considerable files on playful word formation, portmanteaus, and libfixes, but have posted inventories only for the second (here and here). The other two are on my to-do list, but right now I have all these teaching things to attend to.