Why Do Word Blends with Near-Synonymous Composites Exist and Persist? The Case of Guesstimate, Chillax, Ginormous and Confuzzled

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Abstract

Despite their increasing use, little is known about the purpose of word blends, e.g. chillax, which have near-synonymous composite words (relax and chill). Potential explanations for their existence and persistence include: use in different sentence constructions, to provide unique meaning, and to create interest/identity. Th e current study used a vignette methodology with two-hundred and forty-one students to explore the relevance of such hypotheses for ‘guesstimate’, ‘chillax’, ‘ginormous’, and ‘confuzzled’. Our inconsistent results suggest that the semantics of the word blends may diff er from their composites in very subtle ways. However further work is needed to acknowledge and determine the impact of context upon the use and consequences of these word blends.

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