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It's a noun, informal, that refers to "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations," according to the lexicographers.
The choice for word of the year is "a word, or expression, that we feel has attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date," spokeswoman Susie Dent said. It doesn't have to be a word with staying power, nor is it guaranteed to go into the dictionary.
Omnishambles was chosen because it has made the leap into everyday use from its origin in political contexts, when it was coined by a TV satire show called The Thick of It.
Britain, it might be said, is in the midst of a few omnishambles, including a massive and far-reaching child sex assault investigation and a meltdown of its national broadcaster.
Other words short-listed for 2012: "Eurogeddon," to describe the ongoing economic crisis in that region; "mummy porn," inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey; and terms arising from technology including "second screening," meaning using two screens at once, like a TV and a tablet computer.