'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master—that's all.' from Through the Looking Glass
"portmanteau" comes from French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak (from Old French mantel, from Latin mantellum). In then-contemporary English, a portmanteau was a suitcase. In modern French, a portemanteau (or porte-manteaux) is a clothes valet, a coat-tree or similar article of furniture for hanging up jackets, hats, umbrellas and the like.
Of course, I first came across the concept in Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" and the ideat of blending two words into one new word, with a new meaning. Today, portmanteaus are everywhere we look in our language: Amtrak(America/track), brunch(breakfast/lunch), smog(smoke/fog), spork(spoon/fork) and wikipedia(wiki/encyclopedia) to name just a few. I guess you could say, Mr. Dumpty was on to something when he had that conversation with Alice.