Sunday, October 11, 2009


A portmanteau is a blending of two different words and their meanings. The word itself, in this context, was apparently invented by Lewis Carrol.

So some portmanteaus grate on my nerves. Labradoodle, Brangelina, and other designer words are manufactured and created by marketing departments in order to sell something flashy and fab.

And some portmanteaus are so accepted that you—or I at least—rarely notice them as being a jumble of two different things. Like brunch. Or spork, blog, and wikipedia. These words seem more natural, at least.

So Grant Peterson, of Rivendell Bicycle Works, apparently coined the portmanteau beausage in an article he wrote for the Rivendell Reader, the bike shop's newsletter. Rick Smith used the word in the 10/11/2009 episode of Yehuda Moon.

I think it's a pretty great word, with great potential to be used "in the wild."

It's a blend of "beauty" and "usage," and is used to describe a beauty that comes from or through use. Like dings and nicks on a trusty bicycle. Or a leather bicycle saddle once it has been broken in and has adopted the shape of its rider's bottom. Certain sets of kitchen knives acquire beausage after many years. Or—and this might be the perfect example—musical instruments. Like Trigger, Willie's guitar.

Where pronunciation is concerned, I'm going to go ahead and say that the American pronunciation ("BYOO-sij") and the French pronunciation ("bo-SAHG") are equally acceptable.

I'm looking forward to noticing and appreciating examples of beausage in the future.


Jon said...

Grant specifies byoo-sej, in the original Rivendell Reader article in which he introduces the word.

Cap'n Unclefather said...

There we go. I wasn't sure where it was introduced.

I've enjoyed reading the catalog and the Reader when I get the opportunity to.

I thought I had seen at some point that all the back issues are available on DVD somewhere. I should look for that.

Cap'n Unclefather said...

PFFFFFFFFF there it is