The Collins Dictionary has chosen the word permacrisis as its word of the year for 2022.
It’s known in grammatical circles as a portmanteau, a word that combines the meaning of two others – (permanent + crisis).
The word is defined as “an extended period of instability and insecurity”, a fairly accurate description of a truly awful 2021 and 2022 and the chronology of catastrophe that swamped our lives; first the Covid pandemic, then slap bang into war in Ukraine and then, hello, here comes an energy crisis followed by rising inflation, and hanging over all of this like the Sword of Damocles, a climate disaster, and of course, if you are from the UK, there’s Brexit, Boris and Truss as well…. Whew! I need a lie-down and some strong medication.
David Shariatmadari, who writes about language, said of the new word:
“Permacrisis is a term that perfectly embodies the dizzying sense of lurching from one unprecedented event to another, as we wonder bleakly what new horrors might be around the corner.”
What’s next, indeed? Permacrisis continues our fascination with the language of doom mixed with things being both out of, and beyond our control.
A favourite term is still omnishambles – first used in the BBC political satire The Thick of It (2009). Another word combination of the Greek omni (all) + shambles (disorder, confusion mess). A shitshow you might say. And there are a few of them going on around us.
Other terms in the running for the Collins’ word of the year 2022 were:
Partygate – one of the many scandals that led to the downfall of Boris. The parties refer to drink parties during lockdown. The term is taken from the original “gate” – Watergate which was the name of a building in Washington which was burgled and consequently led to the downfall of Richard Nixon. The suffix “gate” now means serious scandal.
Warmbank – a building such as a public library or place of worship that opens its doors to offer a free, warm and welcoming space for people struggling to afford the cost of heating homes because of spiralling energy costs.
Sportswashing, (following on from greenwashing) a term for organisations and countries that use sports activities to better their reputations or distract from unsavoury practices. No points for guessing why this term took off this year.
Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital under constant bombardment from the Russian army also makes the list. Mark Twain once dryly remarked : God created war so that Americans (and the rest of the world) would learn geography.
The Oxford Dictionary chose a more obscure slang term as its word of the year.
Living in a permacrisis brings out the goblin mode in many of us
Goblin mode means to behave like a goblin (lutin). You can probably guess it’s not behaviour you would find from Madame Blanche Dubois’ Academy of Etiquette for Socialites.
The dictionary says goblin mode is a “type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
Living in a permacrisis brings out the goblin mode in many of us.
Getting ready for another day of remote work
It appears to born out Covid where lockdowns and working from home led to a rejection of the idea of returning to a normal life and rebellion against aesthetic standards and the perfectly pinched and pouted lifestyle promoted on social media.
Think of raw, unfiltered you. No make-up, unshaven, an old t-shirt and trackie pants. Yep, sounds like a weekend.