The worst words are the ones that were never meant to be words at all, such as "webinar" (a seminar that takes place on the internet) and "eurozone". They share a special kind of ugliness, the kind that an item of clothing made from overly flammable material has - too shiny, obviously manufactured, fake. "Eurozone", clunky in the extreme, has all the hallmarks of a word invented by someone with no poetry in their soul. It's the linguistic equivalent of a spreadsheet.

I bet when the Eurocrats first came up with it, they thought it sounded exciting - like a fun ride in a theme park. "Come on, kids, let's check out the eurozone! I hear it's one hell of a roller coaster." A "Z" always gives an otherwise drab word a bit of a boost. (Where would pizzazz be without its Zs?) And there's no doubt that it soups up poor old "euro", which is such an underwhelming name for a currency. The word is so flat, so spineless, especially compared to all the others. The dollar, the rouble, the dirham, the rupee, the shilling (still going in four African countries), the shekel, even the pound - all make the euro look like the class dweeb.

Why euro? They could have called the currency whatever they wanted and then sat back and imagined people going into shops and saying things like, "Do you have change for eight squatbats?" At least they could have tried to make it memorable. A "euro" is more like a sigh than a word. "Zone" doesn't solve the problem - there is something nineties and corporate about it, a far cry from the Latin source zona, meaning geographical belt or celestial zone.

Ah, celestial zone, how distant you seem, now that "eurozone" refers to the economic and monetary union of 17 of the EU's 27 member states: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Celestial these countries are not, especially as half of them are going to hell in a debt-laden handcart. The eurozone, no longer futuristic and whizzy, is now attached in the press to words such as "turbulence", "crisis" and "stricken". The theme park has fallen into disrepair, the ride has broken down. The fun, it seems, is over.

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 17 October 2011 issue of the New Statesman, This is plan B