Word of the week: omnishambles

Omnishambles: something which is completely and continuously shambolic

Honoured with the title of OED word of the year in 2012, this is a personal favourite which really couldn’t be left out of my ‘Word of the Week’ category. ‘Omnishambles’ was first used by the character Malcolm Tucker in the excellent BBC political satire The Thick of It.

Appropriately, the term was then popularised by Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, in a speech to the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions in April 2012, criticising the government’s budget:

Over the past month we have seen the charity tax shambles, the churches tax shambles, the caravan tax shambles and the pasty tax shambles, so we are all keen to hear the Prime Minister’s view on why he thinks, four weeks on from the Budget, even people within Downing Street are calling it an omnishambles Budget.

Few things make me happier than to see a word coined by a fictional foul-mouthed Scotsman gain so much popularity as to nonchalantly appear in The Sunday Times this week.

Other derivatives, such as ‘Scomnishambles’ (the situation resulting from the prospect of an independent Scotland’s potential accession to the EU), have been thrown out there occasionally but have (perhaps unsurprisingly) failed to catch on…


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