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Malamanteau: A Word Goes Viral

June 1, 2010

Fans of the webcomic,, “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language,” saw, and chuckled over a recent strip coining a word, “malamanteau.” The strip appears below.

Read on, it doesn’t stop there, and gets even more fun!

FThe original appearance of Malamanteau

"Malamanteau" strip by Randall Monroe

Apparently, xkcd fans have done more than chuckle.

A few days ago, the Boston Globe reported that malamanteau has turned into an actual word. Or has it?
The article is a well-constructed discussion of how language evolves, how that evolution has changed with the web and social media, and what makes a “real word.”  Enough sociolinguistics pondering to be thoughtful, but accessible even if you’ve never taken a linguistics class.

For those curious about the Malamanteau Wikipedia page, this is as close as I can get. Disappointingly, they took the Wikipedia page down.

I’m trying to think of words that are malamanteaux. The Globe cites “misunderestimated” and “bewilderness,” the latter of which I’d never heard. But I like it.

Got any other malamanteaux?

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