This week’s IATE term, Brexit, must be more than familiar to many of you since it has been in the spotlight, (and it will remain so) for some time.
Discord between Britain’s own interests and the European Union’s policies led the UK’s ex-Prime Minister, David Cameron, to raise the question about whether Britain should remain a member state or leave the EU, also known as Brexit (a contraction of the words ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’). 23 June 2016 is the date when the in-out referendum took place, which resulted in 51.9% of voters being in favour of leaving the EU.
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 in the same year, the term Brexit was also adopted in public discourse.
Words like Brexit and Grexit, created by the blending of two words, are called in linguistics portmanteau words.
- Greek withdrawal from the eurozone – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016. Greek withdrawal from the eurozone – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_withdrawal_from_the_eurozone.
- Brexit – definition of Brexit in English from the Oxford dictionary. 2016. Brexit – definition of Brexit in English from the Oxford dictionary. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/brexit.
- Brexit Definition | Investopedia. 2016. Brexit Definition | Investopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/brexit.asp.
- In graphics: Britain’s referendum on EU membership: A background guide to “Brexit” from the European Union | The Economist. 2016. In graphics: Britain’s referendum on EU membership: A background guide to “Brexit” from the European Union | The Economist. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/02/graphics-britain-s-referendum-eu-membership.
Written by Ana Escaso Moreno, Communication Trainee at TermCoord – Journalist & Social Media manager