These days, you don't have to speak Greek to know what "Oxi" means. A few weeks ago, the short word became a center of the global conversation about Greece's economic crisis after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced a referendum on whether to accept the bailout conditions set by Greek's lenders.

Yet the movement behind the word's quick rise and slow fall shows sometimes that potent political symbols can fail when faced with complex political realities.

Tsipras announced the referendum June 27; It was due to take place July 5. "Oxi" swiftly became a fixture of anti-austerity protests, featured on signs and painted on walls. The word had a special resonance in Greece, where "Oxi Day" is celebrated as an anniversary of Greece's defiance of the Axis powers during World War II.

In a series of protests ahead of the vote, huge crowds gathered around Greece marching under the "Oxi" banner.

The word took off around the world, with protesters as far away as Australia adopting "Oxi."

Referendum day arrived, and the "Oxi" vote won convincingly with a landslide 61 percent of the vote. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the Greek people had made a "very brave choice" and said it would be rewarded. Meanwhile, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis – a vocal critic European-led austerity – quit the day after the poll. "The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning," he said in a blog post announcing his resignation.

The success of the Greek "Oxi" vote caused hope for similar movements worldwide – British campaigners planned a "Oxi to Osborne" protest, for example. But it remained unclear what exactly would happen next in Greece. Polls showed that a majority of those who voted no in the referendum didn't actually want to end talks with Greek creditors and exit the eurozone, they instead hoped for new talks.

It wasn't clear, however, what those new talks would entail. As Alex White of the Economist Intelligence Unit put it in a tweet on the day of the referendum, it looked like Greece's lenders may well say "Oxi" too.

After the vote, the large scale "oxi" protests died down, but the economic turmoil did not, and Greece's political leaders scrambled to find a bailout bid to present. Meanwhile, the power of the "Oxi" movement quickly waned online, as Google search data and information from social media analytics firm Topsy shows.

On July 7, European leaders rejected the Greek proposal and suggested that it had been hastily prepared. On July 9, Greece made a new offer to Europe, proposing to make far more painful spending cuts and tax hikes in return for a bailout. In essence, Greece was now proposing the same dose of austerity Greek voters had rejected in the referendum. “Each one of us shall be confronted with his stature and his history," Tsipras told allies, according to the Greek press. "Between a bad choice and a catastrophic one, we are forced to opt for the first one.”

It was almost as if the "Oxi" vote hadn't happened.

For the average Greek, the reality of more austerity may be hard to bear. Online, supporters of the group began to share the hashtag #ThisIsACoup, which became popular after it was included in a tweet from the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, that called for understanding of the Greek viewpoint.

As Greek politicians debated the harsh new cuts Wednesday evening, protesters in Athens and many other cities returned to the streets. Many are still marching under the banner of "Oxi."

But the new protests also had a much more violent edge. With riot police firing tear gas and petrol bombs thrown in Athen's Syntagma Square, it seemed Greece might return to the anti-austerity riots of 2012, with protests around the world