Bad Portmanteau Examples

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

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #362
spillates icktionary


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 the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.