Clusterfuck

CRISPY69

Member
USA, English
Term: clusterfuck

Your definition or explanation: An dynamic, multifaceted, and chaotic mess of a situation involving various principal players that can not easily be corrected.

Example: The failing school in the city I worked in was an out-and-out clusterfuck.

One or more places you have seen the term: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/clusterfuck. Pervasive in everyday conversation, esp the military.

Have you looked for this term or meaning in dictionaries, and not found it? Yes . Appears in French dict, but not English.
 
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    As someone new to this forum, does the fact that it is in other dictionaries but NOT in the Word Reference dictionary mean that we can't or shouldn't create an entry in the Word Reference dictionary?
     

    Quoth

    New Member
    English - English
    I first encountered this word from British ex-service personnel working in technical disciplines. Whilst clearly used as a single word, un-spaced, it simply referred to an aggregation of undesireable events or situations, without necessarily relating to "various principal players" or their lack of competence - for example several pieces of equipment failing at the same time.

    Still, I doubt the gentlemen in question had read the dictionary, so this is purely anecdotal.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    It's common in the U.S. military, too. My guess - but it is a guess - is that it originated in the military, though whether it's British, American or something else is a mystery to me.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    What's the difference between clusterfuck and snafu?
    I believe that a clusterfuck happens when multiple people are involved in making something go very wrong. That's what 'cluster' implies.

    A snafu is happens when something goes very wrong, but it does not say anything about how many people were responsible.
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Béarla na hÉireann (Hiberno-English)
    My understanding is that a clusterfuck is a lot of things going simultaneously wrong - of course, multiple people (the brass) are responsible for the situation, but they also create snafus! We tend to treat snafus with the resignation of long-suffering familiarity, but clusterfucks are something out of the ordinary, absolutely fubar.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Here are the two definitions from Merriam Webster:
    ----
    SNAFU
    : a situation marked by errors or confusion : muddle
    also : an error causing such a situation
    ----
    CLUSTERFUCK (labelled "vulgar slang")
    : a complex and utterly disordered and mismanaged situation
    : a muddled mess
    ----
    I think I agree with cidertree's first comment that a clusterfuck is an extraordinary snafu
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Don't forget FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition/Recovery.
    A FUBAR is worse than a snafu.
    A clusterfuck emphasizes the number of people involved in causing the problem, which fubar (or FUBAR, I'm not sure whether it has attained lowercase status) does not.
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Béarla na hÉireann (Hiberno-English)
    What's the consensus on clusterfuck?

    I've always considered that the "cluster" refers to a number of things going simultaneously wrong, any yet @Cagey and @Roxxxannne are of the opinion that it refers to a number of people being responsible for a single problem.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    What's the consensus on clusterfuck?

    I've always considered that the "cluster" refers to a number of things going simultaneously wrong, any yet @Cagey and @Roxxxannne are of the opinion that it refers to a number of people being responsible for a single problem.
    I wish to qualify that: it refers to a number of people being responsible for a complex, intractable problem.
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Béarla na hÉireann (Hiberno-English)
    Yes, point taken. "single problem" was an oversimplification.:oops:
     
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