Everybody knows Grexit is an amalgamation of Greece and exit, which was later adapted into Brexit, but what are the earliest recorded instances of these words? A generation or two down the line people will want to know, and then it would be a lot harder to find out.

The Wikipedia article on Grexit says “the term was coined by the Citigroup economist Ebrahim Rahbari and was introduced by Rahbari and Citigroup's Global Chief Economist Willem H. Buiter on 6 February 2012”, but does not provide the actual quote.

The Wikipedia article on Brexit does not even give a date for the word first appearance.

So what are the earliest recorded instances of these words, and when did they happen?

  • Relevant? wordhistories.com/2016/02/19/brexit
    – NVZ
    Jul 6, 2016 at 10:47
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    I suspect it was first used on Twitter, little point in searching newspapers online... @NVZ you had better post it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 6, 2016 at 10:49
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    @NVZ Almost... but I don't live there. The link supposedly contains the first Tweet using Brexit, which was exactly my guess. Great minds etc... Post it!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 6, 2016 at 10:58
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    It's just one huge facepalm. I can't believe it. Jul 6, 2016 at 14:11
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    @Josh61 hunters hunt, ghosts haunt just wanting to be sure we're on the same page...but as I say, maybe our thoughts will hunt us until we are captured.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 6, 2016 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


“Grexit” was coined by Ebrahim Rahbari, an economist at Citigroup. It first appeared in a report co-authored in February 2012 with Willem Buiter, the bank’s outspoken chief economist, which put the chances of Greece leaving the euro at 50 per cent over the following 18 months.

Here is the original piece of research (6 february 2012) where the term was first used:

Rising Risks of Greek Euro Area Exit :

  • "We raise our estimate of the likelihood of Greek EA exit (‘Grexit’) to 50% over the next 18 months, from 25-30% previously. This is mostly because we consider the willingness of EA creditors to continue providing further support to Greece despite Greek non-compliance with programme conditionality to have fallen substantially".

The term became quickly widespread and generated other well-know imitations. only a few months later,

  • Informally (and in its more now-prevalent spelling), the word first appears in a Tweet that was sent on 15 May in the same year by a think tank called British Influence, stating: “Stumbling towards the Brexit – Britain, a referendum and an ever-closer reckoning.”

while on June the 21st, 2012, The Economist wrote:

  • Yet the chances of Britain leaving the EU in the next few years are higher than they have ever been. A Brixit looms for several reasons. For one thing, the British never fell in love with Europe, instead weighing costs against economic benefits. Right now the EU is seen as a basket case (though British finances are hardly in great shape).

Would-be words of the eurozone crisis:

  • The Eurozone economic crisis which has dominated headlines this summer has yielded a bumper crop of blended neologisms, from Grexit to Eurogeddon to Spanic and beyond. Will any of them survive as English words?

  • Eurogeddon (the demise of the eurozone) appears to have been first on the scene, dating back to at least the summer of 2011, but it isn’t the most robust of the eurozone portmanteau words. That title is held by Grexit (the exit of Greece from the eurozone). Grexit appears to have been coined in February 2012, but it quickly gained traction and now has about 10 times as much evidence as eurogeddon in Oxford’s specialized corpus for monitoring new vocabulary (though eurogeddon is more popular than other upstarts, like Drachmageddon (a Greek return to the drachma) and Spanic (economic panic caused by Spain’s crisis)).

  • Grexit has become widespread enough to spawn offspring on the same model (first two letters of country’s name + exit). These include Spexit and the unlovely Itexit. The first of these has begun to gain ground in step with the increasing attention paid to Spain’s plight, but the most successful Spain-oriented blend so far, based on database and corpus evidence, seems to be Spailout (a bailout of the Spanish economy). Even if Italy were to become center stage in the developing crisis, it is difficult to imagine that Itexit will ever overcome its deficit of euphony to become established in our vocabulary.


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    Gosh, how prescient The Economist was!
    – Jacinto
    Jul 6, 2016 at 14:52
  • @Jacinto look up Ukip party. The British anti-european sentiment was born a long time ago. Doesn't mean everyone in the UK feels the same way, but it's a sizeable percentage.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 6, 2016 at 15:10
  • For the sake of completion, it's worth mentioning the various other words of the same ilk such as departugal, italeave, fruckoff, chzeckout, oustria, finish, slovakout, latervia and byegium. (Sadly, I can't claim to have made these up but I also can't find an authoritative source to cite. They appeared on the interwebs.)
    – terdon
    Jul 6, 2016 at 16:00
  • @terdon i like Texodus Jul 6, 2016 at 16:05
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    @Jacinto - I fixed that.
    – user66974
    Jul 6, 2016 at 20:27

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