Leaving, in tears and a portmanteau

Passed on by Facebook friends (especially Arthur Prokosch), this Dan Wasserman editorial cartoon in the Boston Globe on the 16th:

Here we are in Portmantexia, a land of words in –exit, –leave, and –out, a land that people want to abandon. The leading family in Portmantexia is the Exits, especially the recently prominent Brexit, towering above cousins Grexit, Crexit, the infant Trexit, the black sheep Texit, and the newborns Nexit and Frexit.

The names are all portmanteaus: Brexit = Britain / British + exit  (exit of Britain from the European Union), Grexit = Greece / Greekexit (exit of Greece from the Euro zone), Crexit = crisis + exit (rescue from, getting out of, crisis), Trexit above = Trump + exit (exit from the U.S. on account of Donald Trump (there are other senses), Texit = Texas + exit (exit of Texas from the U.S.), Nexit = Netherlands + exit (exit of the Netherlands from the E.U.), Frexit = France + exit (exit of France from the E.U.).

Note: I’m not claiming that this is a complete list of portmanteaus in -exit; it’s just a sampling. Nor do I know anything of significance about the history of any of these terms.

On the cartoonist. From Wikipedia:

Dan Wasserman is an American political cartoonist for The Boston Globe. Wasserman joined the Globe in 1985. He is syndicated in 40 papers in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, and is the author of two books, We’ve Been Framed and Paper Cuts. Wasserman has a BA from Swarthmore College and studied at The Art Students League of New York.

On the title of this posting. An allusion to a famous example of zeugma:

Miss Bolo… went straight home, in a flood of tears and a sedan-chair. (Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, Chapter 35)

The political story and some more vocabulary of leaving. A Reuters story yesterday, “Nexit, Frexit or Italeave? British vote fires up EU’s ‘Outers'” by Dominic Evans and Marton Dunai:

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union fired up populist eurosceptic parties across the continent on Friday, giving fresh voice to their calls to leave the bloc or its euro currency.

Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and France demanded referendums on membership of the union, while Italy’s 5-Star movement said it would pursue its own proposal for a vote on the euro.

Other senses of Trexit. Attested are trade (deal) + exit and Trinity (College, Cambridge) + exit. And also possible would be Trump + exit ‘exit by Trump’ (though Trump seems disinclined to leave).

A Latin note. We start with the Latin verb ‘go’, with principal parts:

present eo, infinitive i:re, perfect ii:, past participle i:tus

Then in combination with ex- ‘out’, the verb ‘go out, leave’, with principal parts:

present exeo, infinitive exi:re, perfect exii:, past participle exi:tus

It’s from this verb that English got the noun exit, and from the noun the verb (yes, to exit is an old verbing).

And then we can imagine a neo-Latin verb brexeo, brexi:re etc. ‘leave Britain’ (a verb with the meaning ‘leave by Britain’ would be incoherent because it has a subject built into it and cannot occur with a different subject supplied by the syntax). And trexeo, trexi:re etc. ‘leave because of Trump’.

2 Responses to “Leaving, in tears and a portmanteau”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    In a discussion on ADS-L, first from Ben Zimmer:

    Back in February for my WSJ column I wrote about “Brexit,” “Brexiter,” “Brexiteer,” “Bremain,” “Bremainer,” “Brexpert,” etc.
    In recent days many more spinoffs have been added, including “Regrexit,” “Bregret,” “Bremorse,” etc.

    And from David Daniel:

    Rumour has it that Brexit will be followed by Grexit, Departugal, Italeave, Fruckoff, Czechout, Oustria, Finish, Slovlong, Latervia, Byegium but Remainia will stay. (From a friend’s Facebook post)

  2. Branger. Debression.Oexit. Zumxit. Why Did Brexit Trigger a Brexplosion of Wordplay? – Leximania.gr Says:

    […] to Portmantexia, as linguist Arnold Zwicky has christened this brave new world: Many U.K. citizens who voted to […]

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