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Psychology of Language and Communication

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Why Do Word Blends with Near-Synonymous Composites Exist and Persist? The Case of Guesstimate, Chillax, Ginormous and Confuzzled

Thomas Rhys Evans
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  • Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, CV1 5FB, England
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/ Gail Steptoe-Warren
Published Online: 2015-05-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plc-2015-0002


Despite their increasing use, little is known about the purpose of word blends, e.g. chillax, which have near-synonymous composite words (relax and chill). Potential explanations for their existence and persistence include: use in different sentence constructions, to provide unique meaning, and to create interest/identity. Th e current study used a vignette methodology with two-hundred and forty-one students to explore the relevance of such hypotheses for ‘guesstimate’, ‘chillax’, ‘ginormous’, and ‘confuzzled’. Our inconsistent results suggest that the semantics of the word blends may diff er from their composites in very subtle ways. However further work is needed to acknowledge and determine the impact of context upon the use and consequences of these word blends.

Keywords : word blends; synonyms; portmanteau; blends; words; language


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-05-29

Published in Print: 2015-05-01

Citation Information: Psychology of Language and Communication, Volume 19, Issue 1, Pages 19–28, ISSN (Online) 2083-8506, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/plc-2015-0002.

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© by Thomas Rhys Evans. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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