Portmanteau bots

In the NYT Magazine of 3/4/12, Gaby Dunn’s “They’re Famous! (On the Internet): Two Women Joined by Justin Timberlake”, about Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer’s live-audience podcast “You Had to Be There”:

The fans of “You Had to Be There,” whom Glaser and Schaefer affectionately call “ho-bots and bro-bots,” now feel so close to the women that some have journeyed to live tapings at Schaefer’s apartment.

Rhyming portmanteaus, ho-bot for women, bro-bot for men, both based on robot.

That’s ho, originally ‘whore, prostitute’, then ‘loose woman’, then derogatory for ‘woman’ in general, now bleached by Glaser and Schaefer of its derogatory tone, to serve as slang for ‘woman, chick’. And then slang bro, originally ‘brother, buddy’ and now more generally ‘dude, guy’.

Urban Dictionary has definitions for ho-bot and brobot that combine these meanings with a connotation of robotic behavior. For ho-bot, the attribution of immorality remains:

The porn robots on Myspace (or Twitter, etc.) disguised as attractive females that send you friend requests and tell you to check out their webcam or meet them somewhere. Don’t fall for these.

a girl or guy that has sex with many partners without remorse, as an autonomous machine.

For brobot, the “bro lifestyle” connotation is strong:

a term for jock and fratboy types (also often refered to as bros or brodogs) who often use the term bro and seem to be like mindless robots in their interests, hobbies and lifestyle. a combination of the terms bro and robot.

A typical “bro” who wears sperrys [Sperry-Topsiders or similar boat shoes], golf shorts, and polos. He looks just like all of his “brobot” friends, they come in packs and multiply by the masses.

Again, Glaser and Schaefer seem to have have generalized the meaning, to something close to bro ‘dude, guy’ on its own.

[Meanwhile, bot as a clipping of robot has taken on a specialized life of its own. From AHD5:

1. A software program that imitates the behavior of a human, as in participating in chatroom or IRC discussions.

2. A software program, such as a spider, that performs automated tasks on the Internet.

These associations are missing in ho-bot and bro-bot, which seem to be fresh portmanteaus and not compounds involving bot.]

One Response to “Portmanteau bots”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    More on bro here.

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