Are portmanteau words frequent in Icelandic?

Asked By



Portmanteau words are quite rare in Icelandic, and that kind of word formation is not a part of the regular way of making new words for the Icelandic vocabulary. I have asked quite many people, e.g. the lexicographers at the lexicographical department of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and some linguists, and we have only come to two words that have already found their place in dictionaries, þreykur 'smog' for þoka 'fog' and reykur 'smoke', which is to be found in the Íslensk orðabók (Icelandic dictionary 2002: 1829), and hábítur 'brunch' from hádegisverður 'lunch' and árbítur, an old word for breakfasti n an English-Icelandic dictionary. Neither of these words are much in use.

Þreykur is a portmanteau word, 'smog' for þoka 'fog' and reykur 'smoke'.

Much older is the word tölva, the common word for 'computer', made from tala 'number' and völva 'sybil'. The word skaffal was pointed out to me, made from skeið 'spoon' and gaffall 'fork', but as far as I know it is not in common use and in no dictionary I know of. Another word was also pointed out to me, þúsöld for 10 x 100 years. This word is an ordinary compound and not a portmanteau word. The first part is taken from the word þúsund 'thousand' and the second part is the word öld 'one hundred years', þús- + öld.

Further answers in English:

  • Keetsa. Retrieved 12.10.2009.

The original question was as follows:
I'm studying portmanteau words (like brunch, smog, guesstimate) and I've noticed that English has way more of these than, say, Spanish. I've heard Icelandic has some, though they're rare. I am wondering how to account for the appearance of portmanteau in Icelandic more than other languages? Is Icelandic structurally conducive to this kind of word play? Is there a sense of humor common to English and Icelandic? Are portmanteau words a new or old phenomena in Icelandic?

Thank you.

Um þessa spurningu




Answers in English


Guðrún Kvaran. „Are portmanteau words frequent in Icelandic?“. The Icelandic Web of Science 10.12.2009. (Skoðað 26.5.2024).


Guðrún Kvaranprofessor

Related answers on The Icelandic Web of Science:


Main Sponsor

Happdrætti Háskólans