After the memorable “covfefe”, another philological sensation is shaking up Twitter. Political debates around the EU Council meeting has been pushed aside since the two protagonists clashed over the stilted and relatively rarely-used word “nebulous” (meaning vague and foggy) popped up in the discussion of Brexit talks.
On the summit’s first day, Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker complained about their British “friends” during the unprecedented talks on the UK leaving the EU.
“It is the UK leaving the EU. Our UK friends need to say what they want, instead of asking us to say what we want. I find it uncomfortable… So we would like, within a few weeks, our UK friends to set out their expectations for us because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications”, he told reporters.
The reaction was blitz and thunder-like, as UK Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly lashed out at him before at the table because of this remark. The tense moment was caught on video without sound, but lip readers claimed it began with Theresa May’s asking “What did you call me? You called me nebulous”.
Juncker seemingly denied it, shaking his head and repeating “I didn't, I didn't”, but May insisted he did until Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apparently intervened.
Later the chief commissioner clarified that his words referred to overall debates, not to May personally, who, in turn, acknowledged she had a "robust" debate.
"That is the sort of discussion you are able to have when you've developed a working relationship and you work well together. What came out of that was his clarity that actually… he had been talking about a general level of debate”, she said.
Juncker sealed the make-up saying “I didn't, by the way, know that this word does exist in English. In the course of the morning, after having checked what I said yesterday night, she was kissing me”, he said.
However, netizens were not ready to let this go easily. Hashtags #nebulous and #NebulousTheresa took over the trending list.
Some were puzzled with the meaning of the word, rushing to google the word and share their insight with others.
All those foreigners with a better grasp of English than us…make ya sick don't it….#nebulous— James Harrington (@JamesH1963) 15 декабря 2018 г.
At least one good thing has come out of this, which is that profile of that great word #nebulous has gone up— Ealing53 (@Ealing53) 15 декабря 2018 г.
Some were even ready to monetise the buzz with the holiday shopping spree on.
Those better acquainted with the English language joked using to all kinds of sky and space references.
Clouds over Europe: Oi, stop dragging our name into your fights. We’re politically neutral and also our Freedom of Movement can’t be removed, so we’re laughing! #NeutralAndNebulous #nebulous pic.twitter.com/fQ72baDxW3— Amanda Nebulous Jeyaretnam 🔶 (@Amandajeyanam) 15 декабря 2018 г.
One couldn't but mention the rocky talks with disagreements, etc.
Others suggested this description would stick to her for a long time.