Bad Portmanteau Examples

Clorox asked me to create new words for their Ick-tionary. I failed miserably!

Mignon Fogarty
4-minute read
Episode #362


The best word I think I came up with was “Tuppermoat”—a name for the water that collects in the rim of Tupperware in the dishwasher—but the Clorox people didn’t want to touch it because of the potential trademark problem. I’m sure Chris would also point out that “Tuppermoat” isn’t a portmanteau because the words aren’t blended. I just substituted “moat” for “ware,” but I was getting desperate.


I submitted another five or six words, and finally the Clorox people settled on “cat-o-mat”—also not a portmanteau, but a word that describes the layer of cat hair that you can never seem to get off furniture. I don’t see it on the Ick-tionary site though, so maybe they’re going to add it later or maybe the just said they’d picked it to humor me and make me stop submitting new words.

The Ick-tionary

It’s a fun site with cute art, and they do have some great words in the final selections. I think my favorite is “board-‘oeuvres,” a word to describe the crumbs you find on your keyboard. 

Many thanks to Chris Johnson, The Name Inspector and author of the great book Microstyle for taking the time to weigh in on my failures.

In case it wasn’t clear enough at the beginning, here’s some formal legal language: I am being compensated by The Clorox® Company to share a new language about messes for the Clorox® Ick-tionary.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.