The Grammarphobia Blog

A “flustrating” question

Q: I keep hearing the word “flustrated,” but I can’t find it in my dictionary. Is it a legitimate word?

A: “Flustrated” is a mixing of “frustrated” and “flustered.” It’s not accepted by most dictionaries, at least not yet, but many similar words (linguists call them “blends” or “blended words”) have become part of the English language.

Lewis Carroll coined another term for these linguistic mixes: “portmanteau words.” (A portmanteau is a kind of suitcase with two hinged compartments.) One of Carroll’s creations was “chortle,” a combination of “chuckle” and “snort.”

Some of the most common blended words that have made their way into the English language are “smog” (“smoke” plus “fog”); “motel” (“motor” plus “hotel”); “Breathalyzer” (“breath” plus “analyzer”); “televangelist” (“television” plus “evangelist”); “sportscaster” (“sports” plus “broadcaster”), and, of course, “weblog” or “blog” (“Web” plus “log”).

So the phenomenon has a long history, and probably a long future ahead of it too.