The pre-Early Modern English history of deliberately formed lexical blends is obscure. This article investigates the possible availability of blending as a type of lexical composition in Old English (OE). Blends have special characteristics in both their morphology and their semantics. The importance of this morpho-semantic duality to the OE question emerges in case studies of three words that I argue to be blends or blend-like formations. All three mimic the morphological structure of other compositional types even while exhibiting the phonology-driven opportunism and referential strategies that are diagnostic of blending. A partial explanation for this commonality, and for the implication that individual OE blends were motivated via other compositional processes, may lie in a subtle difference between OE and Present-Day English in another region of the morphological continuum: compounding.

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Print ISSN: 0332-1592 Online ISSN: 2034-6506

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