Words Based on “Portare”
The Latin verb portare, meaning “carry,” is the basis of many words pertaining to moving things from one place to another, as detailed in the discussion below.
The direct descendant of portare is the verb port; the noun port, meaning “harbor” or “opening,” is distantly related, with a common proto-Indo-European root. More specific compounds pertaining to the sense of “harbor” include airport and seaport (and, so far only in fictional contexts, spaceport).
Port also once referred to one’s personal bearing; this term is obsolete, though the sense is preserved in the noun deportment. (Comportment, meaning “behavior,” has a similar sense, although the verb comport means not only “behave” but also “agree with.”) Meanwhile, the verb deport less often refers to deportment than it applies to banishment; the noun form for the latter sense is deportation.)
The two senses of porter derive from the distinct meanings of port; one describes a person who carries (also the source of the surname Porter and the name of a type of dark beer once favored by porters and other laborers), and the other refers to a gatekeeper. (The name of the cut of steak called porterhouse derives from the name of a type of restaurant where porter was served.)
Portmanteau (literally “carry cloak”) originally referred to a court official responsible for bearing a royal person’s mantle, or cloak, and later came to describe a suitcase with two compartments. Lewis Carroll gave the word a metaphorical new meaning of “a word with two meanings packed into one,” a designation for such coinages of his as chortle (probably intended as a mash-up of chuckle and snort).
Something that is portable is able to be carried. Portage, which in its identical French form originally referred to a tax paid for entering a town, as did its Medieval Latin forebear portaticum (also derived from portare), came in English to mean “an act of carrying” and later developed the specific sense of carrying boats across land from one body of water to another.
Portfolio derives from the Italian noun portafoglio, referring first to a case for carrying papers and later to government documents as well as samples of an artist or designer’s work. “Prêt à porter,” adopted directly from French, literally means “ready to carry” but pertains to clothing that is ready to wear—that is, bought off the rack rather than custom-tailored.
Asportation is a legal term referring to the element of larceny that consists of carrying away another person’s property.
To disport is to amuse or divert, from the notion of emotionally or mentally carrying one away. To export is to carry out, and to import is to carry in; the noun forms are exportation and importation. Import, in the sense of “imply” or “signify” (as in “to be of great import”), and the adjective important, the adverb importantly, and the noun importance stem from the notion of “carrying” significance. Purport has the same derivation; as a noun, it is synonymous with the “conveyed” or “implied” senses of import, though as a verb it can mean “intend” or, more often, suggests a specious claim.
Rapport originally meant “reference” or “relation” but came to specifically describe interpersonal harmony, as in the case of two people who develop a close affinity.
Report derives from the sense of carrying information (including an explosive sound, as that produced by firing a gun); a person who does so is a reporter, and what the reporter accomplishes is reportage. To support is to carry as an act of assistance or reinforcement; one who helps by literally or figuratively carrying for another is a supporter. To transport is to carry something or someone from one place to another. A person or device that does so is a transporter (as in the case of the teleportation devices in the Star Trek entertainment franchise), and the act is called transportation.
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