Any Portmanteau in a Storm: Of Zonkeys and Other Cross- Breeds


I confess, I’m a sucker for a portmanteau. There’s just something so satisfying about forming a new word by squishing two old ones together. Smog (smoky fog), jeggings (jean leggings), murses (male nurses): portmanteaus are clever and fun, and they’re the ultimate in verbal economy.

So I really perked up when I came across a couple of these curious cross-breeds recently.

The first was literally a cross-breed: the result of an impetuous passion in Italy (where else?) between a zebra and a donkey. Apparently, a determined male zebra was able to scale a fence at an animal reserve in order to find happiness with a female donkey who had caught his eye, and this July she gave birth to an adorable little…zonkey. Yee-haw.

The second portmanteau was closer to home. I spotted it on the store signage of a Sausalito dog-grooming salon, where furry friends get shampooed and trimmed and otherwise made beautiful. It was dubbed (wait for it) Shampooch.

Portmanteaus are an old standby of naming specialists and a wonderful way of quickly gaining acceptance for a new concept by linking it to two already-familiar ones. And once you get the hang of them, portmanteaus are surprisingly easy to create. So by all means, try this at home. Perhaps the next time you’re hanging out with your labradoodle, stifling a boregasm, or watching that new TV dramedy.


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