Glad to see the back of 2011? Here’s a reminder why…

Mallorca's Palma police arrest woman for refusing to pay bus fare. Image: Abinieks/

2011: riots at home, rebellions abroad and economic turmoil globally. What a year!

And what a year packed with words which have crossed the line into massively over-used cliché status.

Words like, for instance, ‘squeezed middle’ which was selected as word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary, beating ‘Arab Spring’, ‘occupy’ and ‘phone hacking’.

Well, it must have been a ‘squeeze’ with such a cornucopia of phrases to choose from.

What about ‘credit crunch’, ‘one week to save the euro – again!’ and ‘kicking the can down the road’ to describe postponing yet another ,er, ‘bailout’. Not to mention ‘bond yields’, ‘sovereign debt’, ‘junk status’.

And how everything remotely bad these days is ‘toxic’. Or developing into a ‘perfect storm’/ ‘economic Armageddon’. And any kids found misbehaving are ‘feral’.

Though it probably wasn’t new in 2011, the prefix ‘un’ – as in ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfavorite’ – was something that was really annoying.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to misread the headline ‘Kim Jong-un named “Supreme Leader” ’ as ‘Kim Jong un-named “Supreme Leader” ’.

I wondered how he could be un-named Supreme Leader when, at that point, he hadn’t even been named. Had they changed their mind?

And I know it’s been around for some time but you couldn’t switch on the telly last year without being informed that this or that was ‘challenging’.

A politician used the word over and over in an interview about the UK riots – each time to describe a slightly different angle. And then there are the stock-in-trade phrases so beloved by politicians such as ‘drawing a line’ under the latest fiasco/disaster from which ‘lessons will be learned’ and then ‘moving forward’ – to the next one.

Reduced me to wanting to kick the telly for the first time in many years. And what about last year’s trend for bolting on ‘-ness’ to adjectives to create abstract nouns.

‘Her royal hotness’ was the most over-used, but it’s also useful for boasting about oneself (‘my utter perfectness’ etc). Michael Winner, anyone?

Add to that all those oft-repeated phrases like: ‘just saying’, ‘must-have’ and, ugh, ‘stay-cation’.

‘Merkozy’ too inexplicably conjures up ideas of some kind of thermal underwear.

Which brings me on to Vajazzle … Oops, maybe need to go and look that one up? Just saying …

Nora Johnson’s novels, Soul Stealer & The De Clerambault Code ( now available at in paperback and eBook (€0.99. Amazon UK: £0.86). Profits to Cudeca

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