Tearing into the UK government’s budget, opposition Labour leader [Ed Miliband] detailed a list of fiscal shambles – an admittedly impressive array of gaffes from the taxes applied to hot pasties to caravans, from donations to charities and churches – before concluding that the end result was, you guessed it, an omnishambles.
The barb was well timed. The charge of omnishambles was quickly extended to pretty much all aspects of a government that had been granted the benefit of the doubt as it stuck with unpopular austerity policies but whose competence was now in question. The neologism even spawned neo-neologisms. A dispute about whether an independent Scotland could be an EU member became Scomnishambles; a row about badger culls became omnivoreshambles. A flip across the Atlantic to a series of gaffes by the Republican presidential contender gave us Romneyshambles.
In late 2012, omnishambles solidified its triumph by being chosen Word of the Year by the Oxford English Dictionary.
It has still not had much traction in the U.S., however. Other than reporting on the OED’s selection, the New York Times has used it only one time, in a December 24, 2012, blog post.
Shambolic, meanwhile, proceeds apace. Reader Peter Hirsch notes: “Two mentions by Jon Meacham on ‘Meet the Press’ this weekend had even the moderator puzzled.”