Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wonderous Word Wednesday 2

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

Most people already probably know what these words mean, but since I just finished reading Etiquette and Espionage, and they are fun words, I thought I would share a couple of them  ...

noun \prt-ˈman-(ˌ)tō\
1. : a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts.
plural port·man·teaus or port·man·teaux

2:  a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog

Replicas of 18th century portmanteau
From Pepe's Possibles

mid 16th century: from French portemanteau, from porter 'carry' + manteau 'mantle'.

This word has turned out to be more complicated than I realized.  There appear to be two rather different "traditional" portmanteau styles - one a fully or partially rounded shape with a top that flips up, sort of like a trunk (see the example to the left).

The other style is more what I had in mind when I was picturing a portmanteau ... something like a leather carpetbag.

Ox leather Gladstone bag from Wikipedia

One specific variation is a Gladstone bag which is described on Wikipedia as "a small portmanteau suitcase built over a rigid frame which could separate into two equal sections...They are typically made of stiff leather and often belted with lanyards. The bags are named after William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), the four-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom."

This is a beautiful 18th portmanteau
from River Ridge Leather Co.

So - I am not quite sure what picture to have in mind for the story. This will take more research then I have time for now.

I wanted to share this modern recreation of a portmanteau as well. 

 noun  \ˈstā\
1:  one that serves as a prop :  support
2:  a thin firm strip (as of plastic) used for stiffening a garment or part (as a shirt collar)
3:  a corset stiffened with bones —usually used in plural 

Etiquette and Espionage refers to someone walking around (in their dorm area, so not quite as scandalous as it sounds though still a bit naughty,) in nothing but their petticoats and stays. 

This is a lovely introduction to the terminology

According to this site: "Stays: Another term for "boning". Also the old fashioned name for a corset. Generally, corsets up to the mid 19th century are know as "stays" although the term was and is still used to describe corsets in general. Stays prior to 1800 were conical in shape, extremely stiff and heavily boned. Stays of the first half of the 19th century were soft and high waisted."

Undergarments - first comes the shift (or smock),
then the stays and the petticoats
Source: American Duchess

Once the proper foundation garments are in place, a lady can get dressed! 


  1. I thought a portmanteau was like a carpetbag as well. Great words today!

  2. I knew stay, but not portmanteau.

  3. I've used portmanteau as a WWW word myself! Great coverage of its origin. And thanks also for the history/ fashion lesson. I'm once again very grateful that I live in the 21st century and do not have to wear stays!

    1. Me too! I wore a Victorian corset when I was in a play and I learned that a) I could not take a deep enough breath to sing (another cast member had to sneak over behind me and loosen some strings - it was the end of the act so I could get away with it) and b) I never would have made it as a Victorian lady - I would have run mad.

  4. Two interesting words and the history behind them.

  5. I knew all of these words, because I'm an obsessive Anglophile and historical fiction reader. "Portmanteau" has long been one of my all-time favorite English words, so I was so happy to see an old friend! In the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, one of Professor Lupin's largest pieces of luggage is technically a portmanteau. And I don't know if your sources mentioned it, but in Britain, the Gladstone Bag was at one time almost universally used by doctors on their housecalls.

    1. Hum - that makes sense. I pretty much always picture Watson with a Gladstone now that you mention it.

  6. Portmanteau is a new word for me, though I do have an old suitcase that belonged to my grandmother that opened into two equal part. We never called it anything except a suitcase. But I am old enough to remember girdles with stays. I have never worn a corset or a bustier, but I am sure I would not like it!. LOL

    1. Definitely no fun. And to think people complain about underwire bras. They have no idea!


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