IATE term of the week: Brexit

February 26, 2016 12:35 pm

EU and UK flagThis week’s IATE term, Brexit, must be more than familiar for many of you since it has been in the spotlight, and it will remain, for some time.

Discord between Britain’s own interests and the European Union’s policies has led UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to raise the question whether Britain should remain a member state or should rather leave the EU, also known as Brexit or Brixit (a contraction of the words ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’). 23 June is the date recently set for an in-out referendum, which will surely have an impact on the future stability of Europe. In the meantime, Brussels is in negotiations with the UK about the possible outcomes and the role of both parties in the world.

This is the context, briefly explained, in which the term Brexit emerges. However, to trace when and how the word Brexit was originated and became a term widely used in the international media, we must travel in time to Southern Europe.

How the term Brexit was originated

As a consequence of the financial crisis that started in 2008, the banking system of those European countries considered financially weaker collapsed, seriously threatening the permanence of Greece in the Eurozone.

Among the several new terms that became widely used within the financial spheres of the time – as it was the case with the acronym ‘PIGS’, referring to EU countries in financial trouble (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) -, the term ‘Grexit’ appeared in 2012 introduced by Citigroup’s economists. Along the same lines, some time later the same year, the term Brexit was also adopted by the public discourse.

Words like Brexit and Grexit, created by the blending of two words, are called in linguistics portmanteau words.

Read more on financial terminology here.


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Written by Ana Escaso Moreno
Communication Trainee at TermCoord
Journalist & Social Media manager

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