Blog Excerpts

Looking Back on Jon Stewart's Portman-Coinages

Last night, Jon Stewart announced that he will be retiring from Comedy Central's The Daily Show. We'll miss Stewart and his writing team for lots of reasons. But as dedicated vocabularians, we'll be especially sorry to see the end of Stewart's skewering of overhyped news through clever use of word blending, known as portmanteaus

So now we'd like to point out that the show that brought us Mess O' Potamia and Baracknophobia was never sharper about portman-coining than in its coverage of the media response to severe weather.

Writing about a "blizzard of 'portmanteau words' involving snow" in 2010, our own Ben Zimmer couldn't resist pointing to The Daily Show's mocking of the appearance of snowmageddon and snowpocalypse in news media coverage of a severe snow along the East Coast. In the segment, Stewart pretended to have proudly coined each of the portmanteaus, as well as Snotorious B.I.G., only to be scooped by other media outlets.

Then, just last month, Stewart got his chance for a real portman-scoop, when, in coverage of Winter Storm JunoThe Daily Show trotted out "Blizzapocalypsegeddon '15 - The White-Erdammerung!"

Jon Stewart, what will we ever do without you?

P.S.: We've had the pleasure of linking several articles on vocabulary and language to Daily Show segments over the years. Check the sidebar on the right to view them all.

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