Word of the day

November 13, 2012

Omnishambles –  something which is completely and continuously shambolic; a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.

This is Oxford Dictionaries’ UK word of the year.

Why omnishambles? Well, it was a word everyone liked, which seemed to sum up so many of the events over the last 366 days in a beautiful way. It’s funny, it’s quirky, and it has broken free of its fictional political beginnings, firstly by spilling over into real politics, and then into other contexts. If influence is any indication of staying power, it has already staked its claim by being linguistically productive in its own right, producing a number of related coinages. While many of them are probably humorous one-offs, their very existence shows that the omnishambles itself has entered at least the familiar parlance, if not quite the common parlance. And for every Romneyshambles (coined in the UK to describe US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s doubts that London had what it took to host a successful Olympic Games) and omnivoreshambles (detailing the furore over the proposed badger cull in England and Wales) there is the far more sober adjective omnishambolic. . .


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