Today’s word-tastic topic is cran-morphing, the practice of dismantling words and glueing parts of them on to other words. Word-tastic is an example of this that I just made up – it combines the word word with -tastic from fantastic. Another popular cran-moph is -gate, as in Irangate, Dianagate and Whitewatergate. This comes from the Watergate Scandal, named after a hotel in Washington D.C.

Cran-morphs or cranberry morphs usually only mean something in relation to the words from which they have been detached. All those whatever-gates usually have nothing to do with gates, though you could construct a folk etymology along these lines – this cran-morph is associated with scandals and cover-ups which involve the revealing of secrets. The opening of a gate could be linked to the discovery of those secrets.

Other cran-morphs include:

  • -tabulous, from fantastic and fabulous, as in fantabulous and blog-tabulous
  • -holic, from alcoholic, as in shopaholic, chocoholic and biblioholic
  • -thon, from marathon, as in telethon, shopathon and eatathon
  • -licious, from delicious, as in magalicious
  • -nomics, from economics, as in ergonomics, Clintonomics, cybernomics and Enronomics

Details of the origin of the term cran-morphing can be found on Language log.

For more whatever-gates, see Wikipedia.

3 thoughts on “Cran-morphing

  1. So there IS a name for all those dime-store neologisms out there. Nice!

  2. In high school, we used to refer to the school’s cafeteria as “the barfeteria”.

  3. It’s a word that should appeal to linguaholics everywhere.

    One of my friends tells me that a large lecture hall at his school was referred to as the “snooze-atorium.”

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