In many ways, the Oxford Dictionary choice of Omnishambles as the word of the year is an excellent one. It’s a great word, it sums up the mood of the times and it has become hugely popular during 2012.
But I can’t help being a little disappointed. As I said some months ago when the word flew back into public consciousness, it is not an original 2012 word. Omnishambles was actually coined in 2009 in the political comedy The Thick of It, and only now has it crossed from the Westminster to the global village. It would have been much more satisfying if the OED word of the year was one that came into being this year, as previous winners have been, rather than one which has simply been popularised.
I also wonder about the Oxford relationship with Labour leader Ed Miliband. Last year’s winner, Squeezed Middle, was coined by Mr Miliband, while the first recorded use this year also came from him, during Prime Minister’s Questions. Clearly we need to listen to what young Ed says next year if we want to take bets on the winner for 2013.
I was certainly surprised by the OED’s US word of the year, GIF, a computing term which has been around for a quarter of a century. They said it had really come into its own in 2012. But I must say in the tracking I have been doing throughout the year, it was not something I had really paid attention to.
There were some good words on the two shortlists, with Games Makers, To Medal, and Mobot representing the Olympics, and pleb reminding us of Andrew Mitchell. In the US I was pleased to see perennial Wordability favourite Nomophobia, fear of losing your mobile phone, under consideration.
Of course it is easy to carp. What are your words of the year, I hear you saying? Well fear not. I shall reveal my words of the year in the next couple of weeks, together with a very special announcement. And even though Omnishambles has certainly been on my shortlist as well, I can confirm now that it won’t be the winner.