Arthur Schopenhauer espouncing his philosophical pessimism.

From a short paragraph on Arthur Schopenhauer:

He is known for having espounced a sort of philosophical pessimism that saw life as being essentially evil and futile, but saw hope in aesthetics, sympathy for others and ascetic living.

Dr. Boli actually looked up the word “espounce” to make sure it was not a word that had been out there in the wild all this time without his noticing it. It does not seem to be very common, at any rate.

But we can see what happened here. To espouse a philosophical position, in the current use of the term, is to adopt it as one’s own (or, in the original sense, to marry it, which may or may not be legal in your jurisdiction). To expound an idea is to set it forth in detail. A philosophical writer naturally does both: one expounds the ideas that one espouses. The two notions go together and are easily conflated, and we end up with something like espounce. If jaguars had philosophical ideas, they would certainly espounce them.

This is a more perfect portmanteau word than most. Your average portmanteau word, like “transponder,” is an obvious combination of the first part of one word and the last part of another. In espounce the words seem to have collided at such a high velocity that they have become inextricably blended. It is possible to recognize the blending, but it is not possible to see where one begins and the other ends. It is something like mocha, in which chocolate and coffee combine to make a flavor that is obviously chocolate-and-coffee, but not first chocolate, then suddenly coffee.

In fact, it is a portmanteau word in the original sense of the term, for the term “portmanteau” was adopted by Humpty Dumpty to explain some of the unusual vocabulary in “Jabberwocky”:

“Well, ‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy.’ ‘Lithe’ is the same as ‘active.’ You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.”

Slithy is just the same sort of construction as espounce. It is not first one word, then the other, but the two words folded together completely. Or, if you prefer a chemical metaphor, it is not a suspension, but a solution.

So we have discovered a new word. Now, we could mock the writer for an obvious mistake. In fact, that is what Dr. Boli set out to do. But instead he began to like the word espounce, and is now disposed to suggest that we should embrace it as expressing an idea not otherwise easily expressed: the idea of simultaneously espousing an idea and expounding it to others.


  1. I refuse to espounce this new word!

    Jeffery Hodges

    @ @ @

  2. True, I don’t just conderstend it completely, I also don’t conderstand it incompletely.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  3. DmL says:

    Not to be confused with playing bedeviled advocate.

  4. mikeski says:

    I’d just like to know how he’s cosplaying as Heihachi Mishima when he died in 1860. Was he precognerdive?

  5. C. Simon says:

    Enter “hunting of” into Google, and Google will immediately recognize that you mean “the Snark”; and in the preface to that poem, Carol gives us the following wonderful explanation about the origin of portmanteaus:

    For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious.” Make up your
    mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will
    first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline
    ever so little towards “fuming,” you will say “fuming-furious;” if they
    turn, by even a hair’s breadth, towards “furious,” you will say
    “furious-fuming;” but if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly
    balanced mind, you will say “frumious.”

    By the way, if you want to solve all Mankind’s problems (or at least be trendy), all you need is a portmanteau of a personal pronoun with the name of a product or service. *You*Tube, *I*Pod, etc. I’m sure the world will be over when an evil dictator discovers he can create a service named “MyMe,” which, being the portmanteau of a personal pronoun with the same personal pronoun, will of course be absolutely irresistible to the masses.

  6. Sean says:

    Now, can we come up with something better than the hideous portmanteau of ‘glamping’ for ‘spending several days in luxuriously rustic accommodations in a rural area’?

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