More dubious portmanteaus

The world of portmanteaus is crowded with playful formations that are unlikely to survive for long (Higgsteria), including many that are just for ostentatious display (Piranhaconda and Sharktopus). Then there are those that appear to be meant to be useful, but are awkward and unlikely to succeed: for instance the dubious portmanteaus Innovatrium, womance (and femily), and twunk. Two more have recently been logged on ADS-L: mediot(s) and preglimony.

The first (media + idiot) was reported on the 14th by Victor Steinbok, in the phrase “Fox News mediots”, but the portmanteau goes back at least a few years. It seems to appear mostly in political and sports contexts, as here:

ENOUGH of GOP ‘Debates’ Where Mediots Show Us How Tough They Are (link)

Sensationalistic sports mediots blame @TimTebow for them making him a “polarizing figure” (link)

I find it easy enough to see the media in mediot, but hard to extract the idiot component. In addition, the function of the portmanteau is to deprecate media people, and disparaging words tend to have a short shelf life.

Then this morning, Larry Horn marked preglimony (pregnancy + alimony) as a candidate for the “most unlikely to succeed” award in the ADS Words of the Year competitions in January. From Shari Motro’s piece “Responsibility Begins at Conception” in the NYT on the 7th:

One of the potential ramifications [of developments in medical technology] is that men might be called upon to help support their pregnant lovers before birth, even if the pregnancy is ultimately terminated or ends in miscarriage. They might be asked to chip in for medical bills, birthing classes and maternity clothes, to help to cover the loss of income that often comes with pregnancy, or to contribute to the cost of an abortion.

… Former spouses are often required to pay alimony; former cohabiting partners may have to pay palimony; why not ask men who conceive with a woman to whom they are not married to pay “preglimony”? Alternatively, we might simply encourage preglimony through the tax code, by allowing pregnancy-support payments to be deductible (which is how alimony is treated).

Here the problem is, as I see it, the imperfect analogy between alimony and pregnancy support. Plus the ugliness of the word, which sounds like a disease or affliction (glioma?)

(Yes, linguists have aesthetic judgments, like everyone else.)


6 Responses to “More dubious portmanteaus”

  1. Ellen Says:

    I’m not convinced about the short shelf life of disparaging terms. One which has been common in the birthing world for years is “medwife” — a midwife who is so medically minded that she might as well be a doctor, with all the interventions associated with obstetrics and little of the supportiveness associated with midwifery. I see the term used so often I doubt it’s going away anytime soon. 🙂

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    Alice Faber writes to ADS-L:

    I tried to post the following as a comment on the blog, and was asked to login with a user name that I don’t recognize, which is apparently associated with my panix email address, so I’ll post it here:

    The term “mediots” long predates Tim Tebow. It was regularly used on and the team-specific newsgroups in the alt.hierarchy back in the late 90s. A quick Google group search on the term “mediot” finds a clear instance from 1993 in talk.bizarre, here, a post entitled “Mediocy at the All-star game”.

  3. arnold zwicky Says:

    Victor Steinbok on ADS-L:

    The reason for the existence of “preglimony” is the general confusion between alimony and child support–two very different legal and economic vehicles. Although “preglimony” incorporates “alimony” in its morphology, the actual concept functions more like child support. But being honest about it does not lead to a catchy portmantaeu.

  4. arnold zwicky Says:

    And on Nancy Friedman’s blog, here.

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