Tag Archives: business speak

On the jargon runway, is this why people love it?

jargon.PNGAnother buddy from my newspaper days has started working in corporate communications, one more straight shooter struggling with jargon and other biz-speak gobbledygook.

That’s hardly news, at the end of the day. (“19 Worst Examples of Jargon of 2014.”)

But this might be. My friend seems to have found an answer to the eternal cosmic question: Why in the world would anyone use these nonsensical words, phrases and non-words, when simple, plain English is always there, just waiting to be used (NOT utilized)?

Before we get to his explanation, though, let’s enjoy some of the new terms he’s been struggling with in his day-to-day role.

  • bbbWing to wing — instead of comprehensive.
  • Solve — as a noun.
  • Runway — “I’d like to have a meeting with you, but I’m out of runway for the month.”
  • Goal –– as a verb.
  • Lift — as a noun meaning an imposition.

That’s one my friend has slipped into using. He doesn’t like it, but he’s surrounded by jargon all day now. Sometimes, he can’t win.

“Who knows why I used that,” he told me. “Why did I not just say, ‘I hope it’s not too much trouble’ instead? There are so many options. It’s awful.”

Here we get to the solution (NOT solve).

“Am I trying to impress somebody?” he went on. “Because it’s not really impressive. Maybe I’m just trying to fit in. Is that why people talk like this — not to show they’re smart, but just to show they fit in?”

Could be, buddy. And maybe that’s why all those years in newspapers we talked about “slugs” and “perp walks” and “news hole.”

But I’m still gonna shout “Rewrite!” if somebody asks me to goal a wing-to-wing solve.

RELATED: Are you ‘contextualized’…?

EARLIER: 12 Annoying Words and Phrases

RELATED: 16 Ways to Write Better


More Annoying Words and Phrases — ‘Contextualized’ by The Buzzword Generator

UPDATE 7/26: Got a text this week from a friend at a conference: “Word du jour: ‘stakeholdering.’ ” I asked her for the context and she said she thinks it’s supposed to mean “relationship building.” That’s as good a guess as any.


JargonMy friend Mary sent this email today to me and a group of writers who work in business settings.

“Since you all have had to plow through more than your fair share of corporate jargon, I thought you’d enjoy this new buzzword generator (from The Wall Street Journal): http://projects.wsj.com/buzzwords2014/

I clicked on the link.  You should, too. The Buzzword Generator is hilarious. See how many ridiculous words and phrases you can generate. My favorite: “Piggyback holistically or recontextualize.”

The funniest part is: They’re not too far from the kind of thing you might encounter in some business writing or corporate copy or worse. (Like these 12 annoying words and phrases, for starters.)

As someone responded to Mary’s email: “You know we’ve all been in meetings where these actual phrases have been utilized (strategically, of course!)”

And it didn’t take long for another to add, “This is a hoot! We could turn it into a drinking game.”

I told Mary this struck me as good blog fodder. Her reply:

“That sounds like a win-win, synergistic approach for contextualizing and integrating reality, while simultaneously utilizing an innovative platform to push the envelope. I just wish I could work in one of your personal faves — ‘At the end of the day!’ ”

She added that Forbes.com hosted a March Madness tournament last year to recognize the worst in corporate jargon. The, er, winner? “Come to Jesus Moment.”


EARLIER: 12 Annoying Words and Phrases

RELATED: 16 Ways to Write Better

RELATED: 6 Useful Points on Storytelling