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Oxford chooses 'omnishambles' as word of the year

Press Trust of India  |  London 

'Omnishambles' has been crowned the Oxford University Press' top term for this year.

It is defined as "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterised by a string of blunders and miscalculations".

With institutions like the BBC in meltdown, the EU struggling to deliver a budget, and PR gaffes from the Government including Andrew Mitchell's row with policemen, many in Britain might not argue with the choice of phrase, the Daily Mail reported.

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

Coined by writers of BBC TV's satirical television show 'The Thick of It,' omnishambles 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".

"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'," Dent said.

"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," she said.

"The Olympics offered up finalists, including the verb 'to medal,' 'Games Maker', the name given to thousands of Olympic volunteers, and distance runner Mo Farah's victory dance, 'the Mobot," she added.

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 moving images on the Internet.

The editors said 'gif' was being recognised for making the crucial transition from noun to verb, 'to gif': to create a gif file of an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event. And, inevitably, to share it online.

Cute kittens, Olympic champions, President Obama have all been the subject of a 'gif'.

First Published: Wed, November 14 2012. 17:55 IST