So if recessionista and fembot are not really puns, what are they? They’re neolexic portmanteaus, in which root words are brutally slammed together with cavalier lack of wit. “Neolexic portmanteau” is a mouthful, so instead we shall choose a simpler handle. Sherry-manteau, catastrounity, misceg-formation, piss-poortmanteau, and poor-man’s-toes all proffer themselves as alternatives, but they are still laborsome. Therefore, I christen these neolexic portmanteaus adjoinages—a functioning portmanteau pun, in case you failed to see, on adjoin and coinage.
Gentle reader, are they not hideous things? If you are not yet convinced, brace yourself now for a tsunami of adjoinages. Stagflation, bootylicious, aeromotional, chillax, f—tard, bardolatry, bicurious, feminazi. All failed puns. There are others too that sit, manscaping-like, in the liminal territory of borderline pundom. Freakonomics works if the more conventional academic discipline is eek-onomics. It fails grimly if you say ek-onomics; vowel length is all.
One erudite friend of mine suggests that the current crisis in American wordplay can be traced back to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s and the subsequent tendency to append any scandal-related noun with the suffix -gate. Before Nixon fell, my friend suggests, “All American puns rhymed perfectly and snappily, as if the whole country were a Cole Porter musical.” While this may not be precisely accurate, it is true that in the United States puns have come in and out of favor over time.
via Slate Magazine.