Oh, omnishambles!

Malcolm Tucker

Photograph: Des Willie/BBC

Ominshambles is my new favorite OED word.  It has that whiff of 18th-century elegance yet a certain modern chic. It’s useful too.

Omni meaning all, shambles meaning a mess.  Together they mean a situation which is a mess from all angles. The situation in Syria could be described as an omnishambles.

On a smaller more personal scale, ominshambles can also be appropriate too. Say, one notices a small bump under one’s carpet in one’s Russian hotel room. One might pull back the rug and discover a thing very like a “bug,” which one might unscrew from the floor to examine more closely.

While contemplating the device in hand, one might hear a loud crash in the room below.  When several militarily dressed men come bursting  through one’s door (as one is holding the “bug” ) and begin to berate one for undoing the bolt of the chandelier of the room below and almost killing someone . . .  Ominshambles! might be just the word one needs.

(Yes, that all really happened to a friend of mine!)

Omnishambles was one of the more printable terms used by Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It — BBC Four’s award-winning, no-holds-barred, satirical romp exploring the inner debacles of British government. If you’ve not seen it, Hulu has some episodes for free.

I must say I’m deeply impressed (and rather envious). It’s not every month a man becomes the new Dr Who AND contributes a word to the OED.

Well done, Mr Capaldi, well done!

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