Friday, 12 August 2011

Word of the week #15

It wasn't too difficult to find a topic for this week's word, because the only story dominating the news in the UK over the past few days has been the riots. What surprised a lot of people is how they came out of nowhere, ostensibly beginning in reaction to the police's shooting of a man called Mark Duggan and escalating in seemingly no time at all into violent chaos, subsequently spreading across several cities.

Duggan's death might have been the reason at the beginning, but who knows what those who took over the initial protest had in mind? There certainly seems to have been plenty of underhand political game-playing in the aftermath, with left-wing party Labour quick to blame the troubles on the Coalition government's budget cuts and several extremist groups stirring up even more trouble later on.

Who can say for sure if there was a political motive behind what has and continues to happen, but if there was, I've got just the thing to describe it. Your word of the week is...

Noun: A revolt or quickly-executed attempt to mount a coup d'├ętat and overthrow a government, using speed and the element of surprise to gain an advantage. Originates from Swiss-German, where putsch means a violent blow or thrust. Its first known use is believed to have been in the early 1920s. Pronounced more or less as written: put-ch.

Example: In 1923, Adolf Hitler and his followers attacked a beer hall where the standing Bavarian government was meeting. They attempted to force the government into handing over power, but the coup failed and led to the spell in prison where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. This event has been recorded in history as the Beer Hall Putsch.


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