So it is official now. The word of the year for Oxford Dictionaries UK is Omnishambles, while their USA counterparts have chosen Gif as their word of the year.
Originally used in the British political comedy television series The 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, said the press release by the Oxford dictionaries.
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 from omni- (‘all’) and shambles (‘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 is Romneyshambles, coined in the UK to describe US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s views on London’s ability to host a successful Olympic Games. Other spin-off terms have been largely humorous or one-off – from Olympishambles and Scomnishambles, to omnivoreshambles and Toryshambles.”
A shortlist of other candidates under consideration in the UK included:
Previous WOTY have included:
In the USA, the word of the year was declared to be Gif
GIF, verb: to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event)
“The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it has never been trendier,” notes Katherine Martin, Head of the US Dictionaries Program at Oxford University Press USA. “GIF celebrated a lexical milestone in 2012, gaining traction as a verb, not just a noun. The GIF has evolved from a medium for pop-cultural memes into a tool with serious applications including research and journalism, and its lexical identity is transforming to keep pace.”
Indeed, GIFING has had an amazing year in 2012. In January the New York Public Library launched stereogranimator allowing visitors to create GIFs of 40,000+ digitized stereographs from its collection and share them. Then in March Tumblr hit 20 billion blog posts. July saw the 20th anniversary of the first GIF posted on the World Wide Web, a photograph of the band “Les Horribles Cernettes”. In August GIFing was perfect medium for sharing scenes from the Summer Olympics in London, especially this coverage of the vault from The Atlantic. Most recently many media outlets were live-GIFing the 2012 presidential debates.
A shortlist of other candidates under consideration in the US included:
The previous WOTY for the USA have included:
Two omnishambles are hot in the U.S. right now, one relating to Petraeus and the other to the Benghazi attack.