Monday 16 September 2013

Vocabulary & TV: Do You Wordplay? -- Portmanteau (Advanced)

Rowan Atkinson as Edmund Blackadder
Image from BBC
How many of you have read my post Vocabulary: Do You Wordplay? -- Portmanteau? If you have, you should be familiar with the meaning of portmanteau.

Today I would like to take some examples from a classic BBC sitcom, my Number 1 favourite on my favourite TV show list -- The Blackadder series.

First, let's take a look at the best of the best scene in Blackadder II -- Ink and Incapability.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: [places two manuscripts on the table, but picks up the top one] Here it is, sir. The very cornerstone of English scholarship. This book, sir, contains every word in our beloved language.

Blackadder: Every single one, sir?

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Every single word, sir!

Blackadder: Oh, well, in that case, sir, I hope you will not object if I also offer the Doctor my most enthusiastic contrafribularities.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: What?

Blackadder: "Contrafribularites", sir? It is a common word down our way.

Dr. Samuel Johnson: Damn!

[writes in the book]
Blackadder: Oh, I'm sorry, sir. I'm anispepticfrasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation.

Image from
Wasn't it excellent acting by Rowan Atkinson and Hugh Laurie?

Okay, so what was Blackadder really talking about? Well, he's using really advanced wordplay no other than portmanteau.

Reviewers' Choice has a really clear explanation of Blackadder's creativity, well, I have made some amendments for easier understanding.
Image from everythingexpress
Contrafibularities: Contra- meaning against, fibula is the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg, thus 'pulling one's leg', which means to try to persuade someone to believe something that is not true as a joke.

Anaspeptic: Ana- meaning up / again / back, peptic pertaining to the stomach, thus vomit or upchuck.

Frasmotic: Possibly a portmanteau, frazzled + spasmodic. Meaning so tired and nervous that one goes into a spasm.

Compunctuous: A variation of compunctious, slightly influenced by contemptuous. Meaning having a bad conscience because one has harmed somebody one really despises.

Pericombobulation: peri- means around + discombobulation. Meaning disturbance and confusion because someone has been running circles around one.

Image from

We can easily guess that "interfrastically" mean quickly, but could it be a portmanteau of inter- + frantic + drastic?

Have a Happy Portmanteau Monday!

contra -- (prefix) against or opposite
fibula -- (n)[C] specialized the outer of the two bones in the lower part of the human leg
pull sb's leg -- informal to try to persuade someone to believe something that is not true as a joke:
contrafribularity -- (n)  pulling your leg -- informal to try to persuade someone to believe something that is not true as a joke:
ana -- (prefix)  1. up; upwards: anadromous; 2. again: anagram; 3. back; backwards: anatropous
peptic -- (adj) The peptic areas of the human body under normal circumstances are the stomach and duodenum.
pertain to sth -- (phrasal verb) to be connected with a particular subject
upchuck -- (vb) [T or I] to throw up
anispeptic -- (adj) wanting to vomit
frazzled -- (adj) informal  extremely tired in a nervous or slightly worried way after a lot of mental or physical effort:
spasmodic -- (adj) happening suddenly for short periods of time and not in a regular way:
spasm -- (n) [C or U] an occasion when a muscle suddenly becomes tighter in a way that cannot be controlled:
frasmotic -- (adj) so tired or nervous causing spasm
compunctious -- (adj) causing or feeling compunction; regretful.
contemptuous -- (adj) expressing contempt:
compunctuous -- (adj) Having a bad conscience because one has harmed somebody whom he really despises.
peri -- (prefix) a prefix meaning “about” or “around” ( perimeter, periscope ),  “enclosing” or “surrounding” ( pericardium ),  and “near” ( perigee, perihelion ),  appearing in loanwords from Greek ( peripeteia );  on this model, used in the formation of compound words ( perimorph ).
discombobulation -- (n)[U]  informal mainly humorous to confuse someone or make someone feel uncomfortable
pericombobulation -- (n)[U] disturbance and confusion because someone has been running circles around one.
inter -- (prefix) among, between, amid, during, within, mutual, reciprocal
frantic -- (adj) done or arranged in a hurry and a state of excitement or confusion:
drastically --(adv) ( especially of actions) severe and sudden or having very noticeable effects:
interfrastically -- (adv) quickly, with haste.

Vocabulary: Do You Wordplay? -- Portmanteau @ Locky's English Playground

TV Drama: The Black Adder (for English lovers) @ Locky's English Playground

C is for contrafibularity - Blackadder - BBC @ YouTube

Blackadder II @ IMDb

Reviewers Choice Reviews The Forever Year

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