The host of the “Total Running Productions” YouTube channel said this mashup in a recent video about the new Men’s 3000m world record: “…these record-breaking performances come from the 1980s and also the 1990s, two decades that were slam-packed with steroid controversy.” It is a word blend congruent conflation of “slammed” and “jam-packed” both meaning crowded or full.

As many of you know who follow this blog, a malaphor is usually an unintentional blend of two or more idioms. But occasionally one utters a word blend malaphor, a blend of two words. Slam-packed is a good example.

Someone asked me if my word blend malaphors are actually portmanteaus. I don’t think so. The main difference is that a portmanteau is an intentional word blend while a malaphor is unintentional.  There are other differences:

A portmanteau is a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes, and their definitions, into one new word. A portmanteau word generally combines both sounds and meanings, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog. More generally, it may refer to any term or phrase that combines two or more meanings, for instance, the term “wurly” when describing hair that is both wavy and curly.

The word “portmanteau” was first used in this context by Lewis Carroll in the book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky, where “slithy” means “lithe and slimy” and “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable”. Humpty Dumpty explains the practice of combining words in various ways by telling Alice,

‘You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.’

My single word blend malaphors are unconscious blends of words to make an unintentional new word. The word sounds or looks correct at first blush, but then on closer examination is incorrect. Examples on my website are “Buckminster Palace” (Buckingham and Westminster, and/or possibly Buckminster Fuller) and “split-minute decision” (split second and last minute). There are many others. Slam-packed is a great addition.

Kudos to Peter H. for spotting this one and sending it in!


One Comment on “Slam-packed”

  1. Mal says:

    Spotted a possible contender in the comments section of the YouTube channel “2 Bears, 1 Cave (
    Attributed to “Bert”, one of the co-hosts: “Sorry if I’m spoiling the beans.”

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