Welcome to a new week of words, as well as to the new site! This week, Wordsmith is feature five “blend words,” also known as portmanteau words: French for a suitcase that opens in two halves (think brunch, spork, bookstagram).

lunkhead (LUNGK-hed)

noun: a dull or slow-witted person

From lunk (a blend of lump + hunk) + head. Earliest documented use: 1884

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“[Rugby] is about more than 30 lunkheads beating seven kinds of nonsense out of each other.”
Stuart Jeffries; Sex, Violence, Class, Power, Politics — the School Rugby Row Has it All; The Guardian (London, UK); Mar 5, 2016.

clairaudience (kler-AW-dee-uhns)

noun: the supposed ability to hear what is inaudible

A blend of clairvoyance + audience (the act of hearing), from audire (to hear). Ultimately from the Indo-European root au- (to perceive), which also gave us audio, audit, obey, auditorium, anesthesia, aesthetic, and synesthesia. Earliest documented use: 1864

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“Paul Solotaroff said that in his time with Trump, he found ‘a guy with two extraordinary senses.
One is something I call clairvoyance, the ability to read a market way it is formed and get there first. The second is clairaudience, hear what is in people’s hearts and minds.’
He described clairaudience this way: ‘There’s Donald, on the 26th floor of his massive office in the Trump Tower, and somehow he read and saw and heard into the hearts of disaffected underemployed white people in Coatsville, Pennsylvania, in, you know, West Virginia, in Ohio. And not only was he able to hear that seething rage, he was able to read it back to them, word for word, in ways that no Republican has ever done before.’”
Brian Stelter; Rolling Stone Writer: Trump ‘Was Not Talking About Her Persona’; CNNMoney (Atlanta); Sep 11, 2015.

affluential (a-floo-EN-shuhl)

adjective: having power and influence because of wealth
noun: rich and powerful person

A blend of affluence + influential. Both words are from Latin fluere (to flow). Ultimately from the Indo-European root bhleu- (to swell or overflow), from which flow words such as influence, fluctuate, fluent, fluid, fluoride, flush, flux, reflux, superfluous, fluvial, profluent, and affluenza. Earliest documented use: 1842

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“The thing to remember is that, for affluentials, money has become the tool with which to buy non-material things — space, time, health, fitness, and meaningful experiences.”
Shane Watson; The Art of Being Affluential; The Guardian (London, UK); Jun 22, 2001.

bankster (BANGK-stuhr)

noun: a banker who engages in dishonest or illegal behavior

A blend of banker + gangster. From the derogatory suffix -ster which also gave us poetaster, mathematicaster, and philosophaster. Earliest documented use: 1893

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“So far for example, no bankster has been indicted/convicted for having a major hand in running the global economy to the ground.”
Demise of the Prevalent Political Economy; Capital (Addis Abada, Ethiopia); Mar 11, 2013.

sheeple (SHEE-puhl)

noun: people who unquestioningly accept what’s said by a political leader, marketer, etc.

A blend of sheep + people. Earliest documented use: 1945

Usage (from Wordsmith)
“The general public — the mass of sheeple — want to cling to two core beliefs.”
Pinchas Landau; Who’s in Charge?; Jerusalem Post (Israel); Nov 14, 2014.

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