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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Word of the year

The gurus of the Oxford Dictionary have chosen The Word that characterizes the year 2012


Britain's media is in meltdown and its government is gaffe-prone, so Oxford Dictionaries has chosen an apt word of the year: "omnishambles".

Oxford University Press on Tuesday crowned the word - defined as "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations" - its top term of 2012.

Each year Oxford University Press tracks how the English language is changing and chooses a word that best reflects the mood of the year.

The publisher typically chooses separate British and American winners. This year's American champion is "gif", short for graphics interchange format, a common format for images on the internet.

Omnishambles, coined by writers of the satirical television show The Thick of It, has been applied to everything from government PR blunders to the crisis-ridden preparations for the London Olympics.

Oxford University Press lexicographer Susie Dent said the word was chosen for its popularity as well as its "linguistic productivity".

She said "a notable coinage coming from the word is Romneyshambles" - a derisive term used by the British press after US presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed doubts about London's ability to host a successful Olympics.

Omnishambles was chosen over shortlisted terms including "mummy porn" - the genre exemplified by the best-selling 50 Shades book series - and "green-on-blue", military attacks by forces regarded as neutral, as when members of the Afghan army or police attack foreign troops.

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