Attempting to describe anything, whether real or imagined, requires ideas to be expressed. There are many modes of expression, however, we will focus on those words which become “terms”. For this reason, we will regularly post a short text on linguistics. This will analyse current topics, together with the need to be able to express ideas related to them, in the domain of translation and related fields.


In 2012, the Oxford English Dictionary named “omnishambles” its word of the year. It is a combination of the prefix “omni” meaning “all” and “shambles”, “a state of total disorder”. Accordingly, the OED defines the term as “A situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.” The term was first coined in the BBC political satire, “the Thick of It”: it is used by the character of Malcolm Tucker, the UK Government’s acerbic and foul-mouthed government Director of Communications, to describe a government minister.

It is rare that a term first invented by a television programme has such a lasting effect on the vocabulary of a language. The term’s staying power is perhaps testament to the impact and the insightfulness of the series. Indeed, it was famously used by the then leader of the UK Labour Party, Ed Miliband, to describe the 2012 UK government budget. Today’s chaotic and unpredictable political landscape today has meant that the term still commonly appears in news headlines. It has been used to describe subjects as diverse as Brexit, electoral campaigns, Theresa May’s speech to the 2017 Conservative Party Conference, the 2017 UK Autumn budget and the internal politics of the Labour Party. Indeed, doing an internet search for any topic in British politics, along with the word “omnishambles” is sure to bring up a long list of results from a variety of news outlets.

For comments or suggestions: [email protected]



The Independent ; The Independent ; Scotsman ; Newstatesman ; The Guardian ; Mac Millan Dictionary ; Foreign Policy ; The Guardian


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *