From fracking to flatlining, brinicles to bunga bunga, here are definitions of the year's essential words and phrases
From These Organizations:
- Maryland Southern Christian Leadership Conference
- Community and Regional Resilience Institute
- Center for the Study of Economics
- Merrill Lynch
- Campbell& Co.Ltd
- Professional Economic Counselors Inc
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Collective term for the spate of revolutions which overwhelmed the Arab world. Confusingly, it began in December 2010, so spring must come early in the desert. Began in Tunisia and rapidly spread to Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Algeria and everywhere else ruled by despots who’d been in power for three decades. Some of the despots met grisly ends. Most clung on, as spring turned to autumn and winter.
A crumbling empire covering western and central Europe. Likely to become defunct in 2012.
Not a ship or even a much-loved monarch, but the second phase of quantitative easing. No one has yet worked out what it means, and the second tranche seems to have had as much impact on the global economic crisis as the first.
A popular term for hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract fossil fuels from previously unreachable deposits. A drill bores into layers of rock, setting off small explosions designed to shatter the shale and release the gas inside. The method has been linked to several earthquakes in Lancashire. It’s fracking dangerous in other words.
Trendy new mode of urban habitation which has replaced loft living. All the best people are now doing it, though most only stay a night or two.
Passionate Franco-German embrace going well beyond a peck on both cheeks. The British find such louche continental behaviour disgusting.
The amount of money likely to be made by the next James Bond film. (Editor’s note: Are you sure about this?)
An almost undetectable sub-atomic particle whose properties are incomprehensible to the layman but which nevertheless fuelled numerous discussions on the Today programme in 2011. In September, experiments at the Large Hadron Collider discovered neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light, in theory making time travel possible. Many of those who voted Liberal Democrat are now hoping to travel back to May 2010.
Ed Miliband’s term for those suffering in the current downturn. He has been widely criticised for failing to define who is in the squeezed middle, as it appears to cover the entire population with the possible exception of bankers, the chairmen of FTSE 100 companies (or at least of the “predatory” ones) and members of the cabinet. (Not to be confused with “the 99%”. On second thoughts, definitely to be confused with “the 99%”.)
Bragging while appearing to be self-deprecating. As in: “I’m sorry this column is such crap. I’m really rushed because I’m having Christmas dinner chez Miliband. Bet my middle will be squeezed afterwards.” Humblebrags are usually associated with Twitter, but can be found everywhere.
The strange hand jive which Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, performs in the House of Commons. Has become very popular in nightclubs across the north of England.
Phrase associated, for largely unknown reasons, with Silvio Berlusconi’s sex parties. All explanations of its origins are entirely implausible. The linguistic equivalent of the neutrino.
The act of not finding out things you should have known, probably because it is to your advantage to stay in the dark about them. The term dates back to the Enron scandal of 2001, but during the parliamentary committee hearing into phone hacking in July, Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders asked James Murdoch if he was familiar with the term. The normally well-informed Murdoch junior had not heard the phrase. His father had, and insisted his company had always had its corporate eyes fully open.
A term to describe the one bad apple in the otherwise honest and upright journalistic basket. The News of the World had the misfortune to have a rogue reporter on its staff, but his services were quickly dispensed with.
The act of balancing yourself in a horizontal position on top of unlikely objects. There are strict rules for proper planking: the planker must be lying face down, completely still, with his or her hands by her sides. It is obligatory to post a photograph of the plonker, sorry planker, on the internet. Prizes are awarded for the silliest situation in which a planker is photographed, though the prize for plankers who lie on the ledges of very tall buildings is usually death. Planking will be one of the events at the London Olympics.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s term for the hard-pressed Brits who get up half an hour before they go to bed (now possible thanks to government-sponsored neutrinos), get their children ready for school, then go out to work. Many of Clegg’s alarm-clock Britons also occupy Ed Miliband’s squeezed middle. The growing numbers of unemployed, however, may be part of the squeezed middle, but are not part of alarm-clock Britain, as they are in the lucky position of being able to rise late after a night’s flatlining and spend the day watching repeats of Strictly Come Dancing.
Huge underwater icicle which, when it reaches the seabed, freezes and kills all living creatures. Had been hypothesised previously, but was seen for the first time in 2011 in footage shot for the BBC’s Frozen Planet series. Probably caused by neutrinos, or possibly fracking, and as James Delingpole has pointed out, definitive proof of the myth of global warming. May, indeed, be an indication of the global cooling that is likely to dominate climate science and the pages of the Daily Express in 2012.