Wednesday’s Word: Bandersnatch

Wednesday's Word - A weekly feature on author DJ Edwardson's website

Today you get two words, actually, both of which made their debut in the same work of fiction. The first is:

bandersnatch

This is a creature known for its ferocity, speed, long neck, and snapping jaws. It was invented by Lewis Carroll and first used in his 1872 work, Through the Looking Glass. The description of it is never given in much detail. It’s meant to be something terrifying however, perhaps a cross between the bogeyman and a dragon. Here’s an excerpt from Carroll’s poem where the Bandersnatch is mentioned:

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

I suppose I could throw in the Jabberwock as an additional word, but I’ll let you look that one up on your own. You may read the full poem, which is delightful, here.

Bandersnatch and Jabberwock, like dystopia from last week, are both made up words, displaying Carroll’s inventiveness with language. But the adjective used to describe the bandersnatch, frumious, represents a special kind of made up word which is the bonus word this week:

portmanteau

A portmanteau is a word that blends two other words into a new word that combines the meaning of the original words. So frumious combines the words fuming and furious into a single word. Other examples you might be familiar with are ginormous which combines gigantic and enormous. Smog combines smoke and fog, and so forth and so on. Once you learn about portmanteaus you’ll find that you see them popping up all over the place.

Not surprisingly, the term portmanteau was also invented by Carroll who was a master at creating them. The word was first used and its meaning explained in a conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty, who told her:

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

For Into the Vast I invented several words myself, one of which, oscillathe, is a portmanteau, combining the words oscillate and lathe to describe a destructive weapon the fires out a disruptive wave, disintegrating its victim.

You can find a list of all the words I invented, and the others which I redefined for the novel in the glossary on the downloads section of this site. The glossary is also included in both the paperback and ebook versions of the book.

So I hope you enjoyed these words and thank you Mr. Carroll for inventing them. Now go have fun inventifying a few new words of your own!

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