Oxford University Presshas announcedomnishamblesas Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012. Originally used in the British political comedy television seriesThe Thick of It,omnishambles has gained momentum throughout 2012 as a word used to describe a comprehensively mismanaged situation, characterized by a shambolic string of blunders.
Omni shambles noun, informal
a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations
[coined by the writers of the satirical television programme The Thick of It: from OMNI- and SHAMBLES]
Among their other activities, lexicographers at Oxford University Press track how the vocabulary of the English language is changing from year to year. Every year, a Word of the Year is debated and chosen to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.In a year encompassing Olympic triumph and European meltdown, the 2012 shortlist reflects what has been a year of contrasts. The shortlist, in no particular order, is:
to medal (verb)
Although omnishambles is still most commonly used in political contexts, usage has evolved rapidly in other contexts to describe any debacle or poorly managed situation. Omnishambles, derived fromomni-(all) andshambles(a state of total disorder), has given rise to its own derivative,omnishambolic, indicating that potentially this is a word with staying power.
Spokesperson Susie Dent explained the decision: The Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year is a word, or expression, that we feel has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date. In the case of omnishambles, we also recognised its linguistic productivity: a notable coinage coming from the word isRomneyshambles, coined in the UK to describe US presidential candidate Mitt Romneys views on Londons ability to host a successful Olympic Games. Other spin-off terms have been largely humorous or one-off fromOlympishamblesandScomnishambles, toomnivoreshamblesandToryshambles.
The Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past twelve months and it does not have to be a word that will stick around for a good length of time: it is very difficult to predict accurately which new words will have staying power. And while the Word of the Year has great resonance for 2012, it doesnt mean that the word will automatically go into any Oxford dictionaries. Evidence that a word or expression will stay the course is required before it is included in an Oxford dictionary.
The Olympics, as an international event, was always likely to generate its own vocabulary, and as such has made a significant contribution to the language of 2012.Games Maker(a volunteer responsible for helping the public at an Olympic venue), the verbtomedal(not a new term itself but given a new lease of life this year), andMobot(a characteristic gesture as performed by the British long-distance runner Mo Farah on winning his events), were all shortlisted. Other popular words includedBolting(the victory pose assumed by the Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt),torch relay(the ceremonial carrying of the Olympic torch by a succession of torchbearers), andJubilympics(the Queens Diamond Jubilee festivities considered together with the 2012 Olympic events), a word coined in in the satirical comedy seriesTwenty Twelve.
Influence of current affairs
Beyondomnishambles, the influence of politics and current affairs remains strong on language usage this year. The catastrophic potential financial collapse in the Eurozone has been termedEurogeddon,and recurrent headlines bring news ofgreen-on-bluemilitary attacks made by forces regarded as neutral. A much older word,pleb(an ordinary person, especially one regarded as being of low social status), made the shortlist after MP Andrew Mitchell allegedly insulted a Downing Street policeman by using the word in September.
Influence of technology
The impact of the technology culture is also apparent this year. Terms to describe new behaviours include the shortlistedsecond screening(watching television while simultaneously using a second technological screen device), and others range fromselfie(a picture of oneself taken with a smartphone and then uploaded to a social media site) tounboxing(videoing the removal of a new electronic device from its box and then loading the video to the Internet). There has also been a proliferation of new words coined in social media contexts which have taken hold, from the shortlistedYOLO(acronym of phrase you only live once) toFOMO(the fear of missing out on a social event),bashtagging('using a company's promotional hashtag on Twitter to criticize or complain about the company, rather than endorse it'), andtwitchfork(an instance of a large number of Twitter users bombarding a target with criticism or abuse).
Last but not least: themummy pornphenomenon
This year we witnessed the rapid rise to popularity of erotic fiction written for or read by women, following the publication of theFifty Shadestrilogy by E. L. James. The wordmummy pornbecame the buzzword for the new and controversial genre of literature, following in the footsteps ofchick lit(literature appealing to young women)andtwit lit (literature broadcast via Twitter).
Definitions for each of the shortlisted words Omnishambles, noun, informal
Mummy porn, noun, informal, chiefly derogatory
Games Maker, noun
Eurogeddon, noun, informal
Pleb, noun, derogatory
Second screening, noun
YOLO, acronym, informal
Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in the US
Who chooses the Word of the Year?
When willomnishamblesmake its debut in Oxfords dictionaries?
There is no guarantee thatomnishambleswill make it into an Oxford dictionary. Oxfords WOTY is a word that has made its mark during the year 2012, but it may be too soon to say if it will secure longevity. We are constantly monitoring language usage andomnishambleswill remain under consideration for inclusion in Oxfords dictionaries. For every new dictionary or online update we assess all the most recent terms that have emerged and select those which we judge to be the most significant or important and those which we think are likely to stand the test of time.
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India Infoline News Service / 08:59, Sep 15, 2014
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