English expletive enters German dictionary


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The English word sh*tstorm has entered the German dictionary. It is defined as a public outcry - especially one that intensifies on the internet. The word gained popularity during the financial crisis, and the subsequent plagiarism scandal surrounding the then-defence minister.

So should we be worried about the tone of so many of the new words hitting our dictionaries?

The Oxford English Dictionary sets the bar particularly high, because it states that words have to be in common usage for a considerable period before they grace the pages. However, it has an annual competition for 'Word of the Year', which reveals plenty abut the state of the country.


As in Germany, the shambolic state of the economy has given rise to a number of new words. The word of 2012 was Omnishambles, which had been widely used to describe the Budget that year, with its many poorly thought-through announcements and u-turns.

It was closely followed by Eurogeddon, used to describe the multiple economic collapses across the eurozone. Both words are testament to the fact that 2012 revealed even more horrors than we were expecting.


A year earlier it was an Ed Miliband phrase, the 'Squeezed Middle' which took the top spot, reflecting the fact that times were tough and we were all suffering, but there was a desperate hope that it could all be over by Christmas.

In 2010 it was the Big Society, as politicians desperately tried to find a way to plug the gap that would be left by successive budget squeezes.

In 2009 it was the rise of comparison sites and the consequent popularity of the meerkat catchphrase 'simples', followed by the 'staycation' - which showed we were adjusting to life on the cheap.

In 2008 it was the 'credit crunch', as we came to terms with the worst of it.


Before then, back before the economic world fell apart, we can see reflections of life in boom times. In 2007 the word of the year was 'carbon footprint' as all we had left to worry about was the impact on the planet of our constant conspicuous consumption.

In 2006 it was 'bovvered', in 2005 it was sudoku, and in 2004 it was the word chav. Life, it seems, was simple, easy, and shallow.

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