can I get my coworker to stop using awful corporate jargon?

A reader writes:

I was reading NPR and caught this amusing article on banned words, as in the annoying slang/jargon/buzzwords (ugh, “buzzwords”) that people are painfully sick of hearing. It made me think of a coworker who has a deep addiction to the word “touch-base,” substituting it for “meeting” at every conceivable opportunity. I have always disliked this word (or phrase? whatever) and through working with this person (who also combines an unusually nasal voice with severe overuse of the condescending “Does that make sense?”), I’ve slowly come to hate it. If I can avoid hearing or using “touch-base” this year, I will.

My question is how to do this. I recognize that many of these terms pass into oblivion sooner or later (one of the banned words in the year of my birth was the mysterious “harya doone,” which I can only surmise might have been a bad joke on the phrase “how are you doing?”). But I want “touch-base” out of my life now. Is there a polite way to say “Ugh, shut your piehole with that jargon crap” or should I just use “meeting” assiduously and let this fool do what they do?

You can try, but even if you succeed someone else will start constantly saying “out of pocket” to mean “unavailable” and another person will start using “ping” instead of “message” and new pet peeves will continually move in to replace the old ones, as that NPR piece demonstrates.

That said, if you have decent rapport with your coworker, there’s no reason you can’t say, “Agh, I really hate how we’ve started saying things like ’a touch-base’ when we mean a meeting or (insert another example of jargon from your office here). I’m on a mission to get us back to plain language!” (Obviously, judge the relationship first. There are people who would bristle at this and people who would take it good-naturedly. If the person is a bristler, it’s not worth it.) Even if it goes over well, though, are they going to change what’s clearly become an ingrained habit? Maybe! Sometimes this stuff becomes unconscious and a nudge can dislodge the habit. Other times … not.

Really, though, you’re generally better off just trying to find it funny. Because language, even soulless corporate jargon, is funny.

(Also, years ago, I worked with someone who would say “I’m going to be out of pocket” constantly when he meant “I’ll be unavailable” and my coworker and I turned our annoyance with it into inspiration to see if we could make up a weird phrase and get it into common use in our office. We started saying “I’m going to be out of orbit” when we were going to be unavailable and, sure enough, the “out of pocket” guy picked that one up too. Feel free to try something like this.)

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  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    There are some comments below taking issue with the LW’s language about her coworker. I read it as the LW joking and given what I think is the high likelihood of that, I’m going to ask that we not derail on this point and consider it already called out. Thank you.

  2. Colorado*

    “at the end of the day” still grates my spine and I absolutely refuse to ever use that term.

    1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      “Circle back” Actionable”, all jargon really. But it’s here to stay.

      1. sacados*

        One thing I hear at my office far more frequently that you would expect is “juice worth the squeeze.” As in, “this project would be pretty expensive, I’m not really sure if the juice is worth the squeeze.” Cracks me up every time!

        Another one is “set up for success.” I want to really set you up for success, we need to make sure this project is set up for success. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s not a phrase I ever really noticed hearing before my current workplace, and here EVERYBODY says it haha.

        1. Your Computer Guy*

          “Juice worth the squeeze” is new to me and I’m going to start using it immediately. Hilarious.

          1. Wintermute*

            My dad told me that one, regarding jobs. Every once in a while you’ve got to stop and take stock of whether what you’re getting out of your job (in terms of money, benefits, lifestyle, whatever else) is worth what you’re putting in (holistically, in terms of hours, stress, how it affects your ability to make plans or do the things you want to do, etc).

            It’s a good pithy way (pun fully intended) to express (pun also intended) that concept

          2. Random Dice*

            My friend used to work at a high end consulting firm where people took themselves and their company way too seriously. She and a likeminded coworker dealt with the terrible jargon by hosting a silent competition in meetings, to see who could introduce the most outrageous faux-jargon without people catching on.

            She was declared the winner after she used the phrase “well why don’t we just run the schoolbus up the flagpole and see what happens” and people nodded seriously.

            1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

              Someone in a previous office distributed cards with a 5×5 grid of jargon words/phrases in meetings. You hear a word, you cross it off. The first one to get a complete row or column shouts “Bingo!” and wins. The record was under a minute, IIRC (consulting is rife with inane jargon).
              Yes, it’s called “bull**** bingo”.
              It helped somewhat to de-bullify our language.

            2. whingedrinking*

              I don’t remember the context, but one of the McElroy brothers once uttered the phrase “put the tiger on the table and yell at it” during a recording. An argument ensued about whether this was a “real” idiom, a McElroy family idiom, or whether the brother in question had just created it accidentally. They now use it semi-regularly.

        2. ThatGirl*

          That’s funny to me because I was introduced to that phrase by the slightly terrible movie The Girl Next Door, which is from 2004.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, that’s the first time I heard it, and it is used in a terrible fashion in that movie. The romance of the movie is sweet, though, and the guy saying that jargon is meant to be a bad person.

        3. Jackers*

          You using this one reminds me of a “new” one I recently heard. My company wasn’t acquired in the last year and I have been in a lot of meetings with associates of our new company. One lady I have spoken to about a half dozen times now has used the phrase “throat to choke” in almost every conversation. I understand it (who is going to be held responsible for failure of X thing), but I was really taken aback by it. I’ve heard plenty of questionable phrases in my 20+ years career, but this one seems overly violent to me for some reason and I am not someone easily offended.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah that’s… off-putting.

            Then again, I worked with a client who hated any violence-related words. It wasn’t too hard to stop saying “bullet points” or referencing “war rooms”, but I couldn’t come up with a good replacement for “a drag-and-drop interface”.

            1. Citra*

              “Click and take?” “Pull and leave?” (“Click and pull?”) “Grab and move?” “Carry and stop?” “Shift and pop?” “Move and deposit?”

              Or any combinations thereof. Maybe some of those would be helpful? That’s fun to think of!

              1. Lbam*

                I was waiting for one of your options to be pop and lock, which would trigger every 90’s R&B song to start playing in my head at once

              2. Fluff*

                Kind of sounds like my Hip Hop Class. Ooo, maybe that could be a good source for newish phrases. Pop and drop that project.

            2. Random Bystander*

              Reminds me of a time when they sent out a memo at my work about “violence-related words” and while some were not that bad, I absolutely questioned the English ability of the person who thought that “execute a plan” ought to be replaced by “formulate a plan” … those two phrases are not even close to meaning the same thing.

              1. I need a new name...*

                I assume it evokes dragging and dropping a ‘prone’ human body for this person?

                But it’s definitely more of a stretch than the other ones!

              2. WorkerBe*

                I know I’m old, because drag and drop just brings back a sense memory of learning to use Windows.

              3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                Yeah, “drag and drop” is a straightforward description of what you are physically doing.

            3. MerciMe*

              “Click and hold [the thing], then move it to [the location].”

              Not pithy, but very clear, especially when dealing with people who may not be entirely tech-savvy.

          2. D'Arcy*

            That really makes me imagine this person’s supervisor is in fact Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.

      2. PrettySticks*

        See, this one frustrates me because I’ve been saying “circle back” in casual conversation for much of my life, long before it became business-speak. (I’m not sure where I picked it up, but I’m over 40, and I’ve been saying it since I was a kid.) So now I feel like I can’t say it without sounding business-speaky, and it’s hard!

        We had an MBA fellow working in our office a few (5? 6?) years ago, and she was the first person I’d heard use “out of pocket.” She used it all the time, and I finally had to ask her what it meant. So, you won’t be answering emails tomorrow? Got it. Just say that!

        “Ping” makes me want to chew off my own arm.

        1. Betty*

          I don’t know what else to say besides ping in the context of a statement like “we should look through the annual llama roundup report together this afternoon. When you’re out of the Llama Strategy meeting, can you [ping me on Slack] and we can jump on a video call?” Is the issue using “ping” instead of “message” as the verb?

          1. Gray Lady*

            The issue might be with using “ping” for absolutely every instance of contacting someone or speaking to them, not just on an app where “ping” is actually the standard word for the action. Like, if you actually mean “talk to me about it”, say that, instead of “ping.”

          2. Grilledcheeser*

            I use “ping you/you/them” after years of network engineering … ping is an actual command, where you are reaching out to see if an entity/equipment on the other end of a network connection is there & responding to inquiries & ready to go. So that’s how it got into my vocabulary!

            1. Cari*

              Exactly. Sometimes “ping” is the correct word. Interesting that it has entered the common vernacular so thoroughly. (See also, “borked”)

            2. AcademiaNut*

              And if you go back further, the computer command comes from the use of a submarine sonar pulse to detect objects.

              But yes, ‘ping’ in a digital communication sense means a short message to get someone’s attention. In my work, it’s generally checking if someone is going to attend an imminent meeting (particularly involving multiple time zone and odd meeting times). I’ve also applied it to a cat who would stand in the middle of the house and meow until it got a response to let it know where its humans were.

              1. Fluff*

                I always hear Sean Connery as the submarine captain saying “Just one ping.”
                “One ping.”
                Every time that word is used at work. My brain just hears that Connery burr from the classic Hunt for Red October movie.

            3. Wintermute*

              You know you’re a real network engineer when you’ve responded to someone using TCP/IP at some point.

              I had a coworker who, when he just wanted to let you know that something was seen and acknowledged would say “ack”, and if he wanted to know if you saw his message would ask “syn?”

                1. Wintermute*

                  the ironic thing is that while TCP/IP is a notoriously inefficient protocol for networked communication, for INTERPERSONAL communication it’s quite efficient.

                  The same coworker would regularly speak using unix commands, probably because he was elbows-deep in a System V box and code switching would take too much brainpower. So rather than saying he would look for something for you, he would say he’d “grep” for something, and rather than say “can you me that document” he’d ask “can you Cat that for me?”

              1. Jen with one n*

                I have a coworker who will use ‘ack’ on occasion, and all it brings to mind for me is Bill the Cat.

                “Flag” is a frequent one in my office, but it doesn’t bother me the way it does others. “Action this,” however, makes me want to scream.

              2. Curmudgeon in California*

                That’s fun.

                The same thing for “bandwidth”, as in “Do you have the bandwidth to take this on?” It’s another internet term that has now been applied to people.

          3. PrettySticks*

            Ok, you’re right, so I have done some self-examination. I don’t mind “ping me on Slack” because that is the verb for that platform. Like if someone says they’re friending people on Facebook, that’s fine. If someone says they’re friending people at a bar, that’s weird (and it sounds dirty, but I don’t know why). The issue for me, as some others have alluded to, is when people use it for everything, and use it because they think it sounds more important. My office doesn’t even use Slack or any kind of instant messaging system, so my coworkers pretty much always just mean they’re going to email me, so that adds to the irritation.

            1. Random Dice*

              I use ping because it’s less formal and less specific. It’s folksy, unlike “message”.

            2. LawBee*

              My friend started using ping in casual conversation when she got a blackberry. Annoyed me then, annoys me now.

          4. Slightly Above Average Bear*

            “Jump on a call” is the one that grates on my nerves. I have seem no actual jumping by anyone making, receiving, or joining a call.

        2. KJW*

          Oh yeah! Out of pocket is the one that really grates on my nerves. Most of those who use it have no idea what it really means!

          1. I need a new name...*

            Yeah, I’ve only heard ‘out of pocket’ used in two ways and neither of those is a replacement for ‘unavailable’. Really weird to imagine it being used that way!

            1. BekaAnne*

              Yeah, I’ve only ever heard it in terms of finance – as in “I’m going to be out of pocket until my expenses come through.” It generally means that they’ve basically lost money or are owed money (which may or may not be coming back to them).

          2. Wintermute*

            It’s really jarring to me because I realize the meaning has TOTALLY changed but I can’t help but hear it in the context of “AAVE slang originating with violent street pimps meaning one of their ‘women’ who is acting unacceptably independent or refusing to submit”

            The first place I ever heard it was in the old HBO “America Undercover” documentary series.

          3. Seconds*

            What are you thinking that it really means? It’s been used to mean unavailable for decades. It’s a phrase that I hear my 90-year-old father-in-law use regularly. It’s certainly not the only meaning of the phrase, but it’s the only meaning I was aware of until the last few months.

            1. Seashell*

              It’s not a phrase I hear often, but I’ve definitely known of it for a long time. I thought it was a Southern term.

            2. Chel*

              I have always thought it meant someone was doing something inappropriate so I would be taken aback by someone using it to describe their availability.

          4. arthur lester*

            It reminds me of the person who thought that “blowing a gasket” and “busting a nut” meant the same thing, and had used the latter in several work conversations before realizing (and, of course, tweeting, so we could all share in their misfortune)

          5. YouSayJargonISayCommon*

            Huh. I was surprised to see it listed as jargon. It’s been a commonly used phrase by people from all walks of life for my entire life. The jargon version common in my adulthood is AFK (away from keyboard).

        3. Shiba Dad*

          Funny, the first time I heard “ping” used to mean “message/contact” was a little over 5 years ago from a woman I had met. We’ve been married for 2 and half years.

          I had no idea this term was so hated.

          1. Wintermute*

            If you work in IT it’s totally normal and accepted, has been since at least the early 80s when “the Jargon File” AKA “The Hacker Dictionary” was written.

            1. Ambarish*

              Yes! Although not just IT but more the software industry in general. Like the editor of the Jargon File himself was in programming, not IT.

              1. Wintermute*

                Fair play, it was perhaps written more for the college crowd (hence frequent reference’s to the MIT AI lab’s Phil Knight, Berkley, the rivalry between Berkley and MIT, etc) Of course back then if you were on the ARPANET you were corporate IT at one of a select few companies, on a university’s mainframe, or military, and the military has their own impenetrable jargon, so there was a lot of crossover between industry and academia.

        4. Random Dice*

          Except that “ping” is a way to say “quickly message in any of a variety of messaging mediums for a very brief back-and-forth.”

        1. PrettySticks*

          I will say that, while “circle back” is an unfortunate part of my vernacular, I never ever “close the loop.” Some lines should not be crossed.

          1. LanguageUsageIsWeird*

            Close the loop is a term of art in several industries I’ve worked in so I would never use it in general conversation.

        2. Wintermute*

          My favorite was a coworker who got their sauces mixed and asked to “Marinara” on ideas regularly.

          1. Random Dice*

            That’s hilarious. I need to marinara on this subject.

            Marinate really is a weird term, now that you point it out. Marinate means to bathe oneself in a marinade until softened and flavorful.

            1. Wintermute*

              I think the kernel of the slangy/jargon use is “it’s too tough right now but given time to soak it will be more palatable/workable”

      3. PhyllisB*

        Haven’t read the comments yet, but one I hate is “think outside the box.” And the two non-business ones that grind my gears are “EVOO” (extra virgin olive oil) and “veggies.” Rachel Ray, I love you, but I wish you would quit using these.

        1. LawBee*

          Veggies is pretty standard pre RR but her habit of calling sandwiches “sammies” is the worst.

      4. Critical Rolls*

        Actionable is overused but actually very serviceable! No easier word to sort out lip service and time wasters from things that will result in doings.

      5. Van Wilder*

        “Cadence” to mean “recurring meeting.” Ugh why. I’m convinced developing these words is 50% of consultants’ jobs.

        1. Wintermute*

          I have yet to find a good replacement that does what “put a pin” does though.

          It’s respectful, it’s business-appropriate, but it lets people know “okay we really need to stop ruminating/rehashing/talking about this point for now because there’s work to be done and if we don’t we’ll never move foreword.

          It’s a brilliant way to stop “bike shed syndrome”– where everyone has an opinion and wants to talk at length about a trivial part of the project. Like if you imagine the construction of a new nuclear power plant, those are complicated things designed by experts, but they also have bike sheds (at least in some countries) and even if you have nothing meaningful to say about the choice of nuclear fuel cycle or neutron moderation, you can have an opinion about the bike shed! And people will have opinions about that bike shed. Endlessly. Because it’s the part of the complicated project they can grasp and understand.

          “Lets put a pin in that” is really the best way to say what you’re trying to convey in a firm but not forceful or rude way, when what you really mean is “for the sweet love of God people, if we don’t talk about the important decisions instead of ritualistically rehashing our debate about the most trivial implementation details, this meeting will last until my brain resigns in protest and tunnels out my ears to freedom.”

          1. Toofles*

            I like “let’s table that discussion for now”, or “put that on the shelf”, or “make a note of that and come back to it later”.

            1. Lara*

              I was told (although hopefully some other commenters can corroborate or correct me!) that “tabling” something for discussion in the UK meant to discuss it immediately — whereas in the US it’s the opposite.

              1. Wintermute*

                That’s correct, it comes from the difference in where the table was located in the House of Commons compared to the Senate– in the UK the table is metaphorically (and historically, literally) in front of the Speaker at the front of the chamber and is where a bill is placed so they can go up and read and examine it and begin the debate.

                In the US system I am not aware of any literal table in use, but metaphorically the table is to the side of the chamber where a bill will be removed to when they wish to put it aside to consider other business and come back to it later.

      1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

        I DETEST IT IS WHAT IT IS!!! (yes I needed all caps) What does this even mean???

        1. Sarah with an H*

          I like to replace that phrase with something like “an ocelot is not a daisy” or “a barnacle is not a billiard ball” and just see how silly I can get with it, because no matter how ridiculous I go, it’s never as bad as “it is what it is.”

        2. Mill Miker*

          I haven’t been able to stand “It is what it is” since I worked a job where my boss kept using it to excuse management decisions that put him in the hospital (from stress it was a low-stakes office job).

          “It is what it is” was like an office motto there, and honestly what it was that it was was abuse from the C-suite. Half the time the person saying “It is what it is” in response to someone pointing out undue hardship from a random decision was the same company owner making the random decision.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            So it’s the 2000s version of what teachers doing unfair things said when I was a kid: “Life isn’t fair.”

            1. whingedrinking*

              That’s one that’s always driven me up the wall, because it’s an absolutely true thing and a valuable life lesson for everyone, but it only ever seems to be said by people who have chosen to generate this unfairness themselves.

        3. D'Arcy*

          As I understand it, it basically means, “I agree that it’s not an ideal situation, but it’s already happened and/or is out of our control; we’re going to have to accept that and continue from here.”

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Exactly, it’s usually a response to a complaint or anticipated complaint about whatever ‘it’ use, and basically means: “We all correctly understand what this is, and we all know we cannot change what this is. If I cannot tell you that you’ve read the situation wrong and I cannot tell you that we can do anything to ameliorate you complaint, what kind of response can I possibly give to your complaint? All I can do is say this is the way it is.”

            1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

              Saying “this is the way it is” is different than saying “it is what it is”. Actually, neither needs to be said, just say nothing is going to change.

          2. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

            That’s how I use the term, without shame. It succinctly expresses the idea that pissing into the wind is generally not helpful to the person doing it.

            It’s a bigger problem when someone uses the term when they’ve decided not to challenge something that actually should be challenged.

        4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          Lawyer, for context. “it is what it is” means let’s stop talking about things we can’t change.

          1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

            See, I would just say that. I get what people are saying it means to them, but the phrase itself is nonsensical. It s what it is? Well, what else could it be?

            1. Former Employee*

              I don’t see it as nonsensical. It should only be used when whatever the situation happens to be is fixed, as in unchangeable. Essentially, whatever it is, it will remain as such.

        5. Random Dice*

          I’m so fascinated by the phrases that make people frustrated. I never would have imagined.

      2. PhyllisB*

        I’m guilty of it is what it is. :-) I have been trying to quit it.
        The one I used to use that drove my husband batty was, “what’s that got to do with the price of eggs?” (Maybe this is just something my family uses.) It means what has that got to do with the topic we were discussing? I trained myself out of it because it upset him so.

        1. Caliente Papillon*

          Hmm I say “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?!” and then my 14 yo is like, huh? Lol

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            This is what I use. It’s a total non-sequitur, and means that the factoid was irrelevant.

        2. Madame Arcati*

          The price of eggs one is pretty well known, it’s not just you don’t worry! A common variant is the price of fish.

      3. Hannah*

        I honestly do not understand “not for nothing.” I cannot make sense of how anyone is using it. I’ve actually interrupted people to say so and asked for an explanation and gotten gibberish back. Anyone?

        1. whingedrinking*

          To me it means something like “for a good reason”. Like “Not for nothing was Carol’s nickname The Terminator”. It’s awkward but makes more sense when you rephrase it, like “They don’t call her The Terminator for nothing.”

      4. lilsheba*

        One I’m really over is “I reached out” ….no you emailed, or you called or you stopped by or whatever. I’m over general bs corporate speak in general.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes! I do not “reach out” to people. Unless I see someone who’s about to faint and catch them before they fall.

      1. GreenDoor*

        Did you – – literally – – just say “basically”? Because I literally cannot believe it. Like, literally!

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I used to try and avoid literally. For a good several months now, I’ve been finding it and having to excise it in nearly every social media post or thread comment. Or spotting it after the fact.

          At least I’ve been using it to emphasize that a thing I am saying is the actual thing I said and not figurative or hyperbolic but it still aggravates me how it seems to have snuck in just when the “Well, actually” guys have managed to cure me of *that* years’ long writing tic.

          It is driving me up the wall. Figuratively.

          1. allathian*

            I like literally when it’s used literally. But I hate it when it’s used as its antonym, with the meaning “figuratively,” even while recognizing that I’ve used it that way myself.

            I learned British English as a kid, and while I intentionally switched to US English when I first went online in my early 20s, there are a few words where the US usage bugs me a lot. My least favorite is probably saying “waiting on” when you mean “waiting for/waiting to.” In my head, “waiting on” is what waitstaff do in a restaurant, not what their customers are doing while “waiting to” be served.

            Another bugbear of mine is “momentarily” in the sense of “in a moment.” When I hear “I’ll be with you momentarily,” I automatically add a sarcastic “and then I’ll go away again” in my head.

      2. Autumn*

        I unintentionally picked “basically” up from a nursing instructor…it drove my father-in-law up the wall and his efforts to extinguish it drove ME up the wall. (I worked for my in-laws during nursing school, in no other job could I bag work to study for a test)

        Sometimes these phrases become verbal tics, initially the person thinks they’re all up to date or whatever, then suddenly they use it all the damn time and so do the people around them. I like the suggestion to introduce substitute phrases and see what gets picked up.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I don’t say it only because it will lead me to break out in song. Best to not have that.

    2. ColonelGateway*

      As much as I hate that phrase, I’ll never forget the vendor I had (jobs ago) who ALWAYS said it as “in the end of the day.” … like, what? Are you living in a planner?

        1. Albert "Call me Al" Ias*

          My workplace tends to use “after action”. I’m not sure I like that better than “post-mortem”, but I’m also not sure it’s worse.

          1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

            After action is an old Department of Defense term (after action reports were a thing). As were mishap reports and a thousand other outdated artifacts. DoD was the king of jargon, as is the Fed overall. Hate it.

            1. HQB*

              After action reports are still common, and the term along with them.

              Government jargon is out of control.

            2. Random Dice*

              After action report is official terminology in my industry. It’s the proper term.

              Post-mortem is deeply inappropriate, in my belief. We managed an incident, we’re not a medical review board that’s digging into why a patient died.

            3. Charlotte Lucas*

              I used to work for a TRICARE contractor. DoD + healthcare + regular old business jargon = It’s a surprise I can make myself understood.

      1. Rose*

        I mean, yes, I’ve seen lots of people spend tons of meeting time meaninglessly rehashing things that happened in the past and failing to realize it’s no longer constructive.

      2. Curious*

        “Star Trekkin’
        Across the universe
        Always going forward
        Cause we can’t find reverse”

        1. Modesty Poncho*

          I once had the absolute *pleasure* of hearing George Takei sing this at a convention.

      3. Office Lobster DJ*

        Whoops, there’s me! I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but I use “Going forward, please X” pretty often in communication when I need the implication that we can move on without escalation or grudges and drop this whole thing right here, if you X next time.

    3. They who must not be named*

      One of my bosses says it constantly. So many conversations have the phrase “It is what it is at the end of the day.” I’ve chosen to find it funny and make it a kind of mental drinking game.

    4. ButtonUp*

      Interesting! That is a totally unremarkable phrase to me, part of everyday language as long as I can recall. Did it start as business jargon at some point?

    5. Not Australian*

      ‘Slices of the national cake’ always peeved me off. Like, if there’s a cake, where’s *my* share?

    6. ZugTheMegasaurus*

      Mine is “granular.” It doesn’t even make sense most of the time! I once had to sit through a 2-hour presentation which would have been super interesting, except the presenter used the word granular at *least* once every minute. By the time he was done, I was ready to start hurling furniture out of irritated rage.

      1. linger*

        One of my chemistry lecturers used “phenomena” as a singular. On the sixth iteration in one lesson, I finally broke down and sang “do dooo, do dooo dooo” a la the Muppets.

      2. Wishbone Ash*

        lol we use this legitimately in information science, so it’s weird when someone corporate uses it. And it shouldn’t be used very often at all- just in data and information.

        1. Kit*

          I use it most often in gaming, myself – for the same reasons IS does, to describe the difference between an RPG design whose mechanics are based on a sweeping, broad-strokes storytelling style and one that gets into the nitty-gritty or attempts to simulate a particular phenomenon in more detail.

        1. LarryFromOregon*

          It means excellent. I learned it when the wonderful song “tubular bells” was popular, but I don’t know which came first, the chicken or the egg…

    7. Quinalla*

      None of my top hot buttons were on the list: “The Cloud” “Data” and “All sports metaphors”. Top leadership at my company overuses sports metaphors so much, me and another person at my company intentionally use metaphors related to cooking/baking/waiting tables and other restaurant work and band/music metaphors now at all times just to try to counter it a bit. I don’t mind a sports metaphor every so often, but when is is the only thing you hear all the time, it honestly starts to feel exclusionary of people that don’t care about sportsball. And I actually like a lot of sports and it annoys the hell out of me.

      The Cloud and Data get thrown around so much at my work the words have lost all meeting and are basically like Start at A – MAGIC happens (ie insert The Cloud or Data here) – get to Z!! Every time I hear either one, I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes LOLOL.

      1. My Cabbages!*

        When someone is way too reliant on sports metaphors I enjoy purposely mixing them to watch the squirming:

        “Well, that’s a neat hat trick, Jim, but I’m not sure our Hail Mary will make it all the way around the bases.”

      2. I need a new name...*

        I recommend the episode of The IT Crowd called ‘The Internet is Coming (The Final Episode)’ for your technology eye-rolling needs.

      3. Erna*

        When I read sports metaphors my brain immmediately went to “Sports Analogies” from “Crazy Ex Girlfriend”. (Cannot recommend that song enough. It’s on YouTube if you want to check it out.)

      4. Curmudgeon in California*

        Oh, I hate sports metaphors, especially US football related ones. I find myself gritting my teeth just about every time.

      1. Wintermute*

        That one is peak “HR Approved euphamism”

        you say “friendly reminder” because you can’t say “because you mouth-breathing Neanderthals didn’t listen the first time”

        1. Random Dice*

          I find “friendly reminder” to be deeply passive aggressive. I always imagine the other person clenching their teeth in irritation, and it’s not remotely friendly.

          1. Wintermute*

            that is absolutely the implication in my mind.

            you say it because you can’t say what you mean, just like saying “as indicated in my last email” because you can’t say “I already told you that, you dolt”, or saying “I’m concerned about the optics of that course of action” when you can’t say “that will make us all look like flagrant morons”.

      2. ursula*

        I can only ever hear “friendly reminder” as deeply passive aggressive. My last boss used to sometime send ‘friendly reminder’ emails that ended with a smiley face, and that’s when you knew she was SO STEAMED but wasn’t willing to do anything about it.

        1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

          Don’t get me started on passive-aggressive, another term most people misuse. It doesn’t mean to sugarcoat or anonymize a complaint, as many people seem to think it does.

          It actually means to talk/write as if you are agreeing with a course of action (or “on board with it”, another piece of corporate jargon), while secretly acting to undermine that course of action.

            1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

              True, but that’s something that could apply to just about every language complaint in this thread.

              Language usage experts document and (more or less) quantify the rise (and fall) of variants in usage. See Bryan Garner’s Language Change Index at https://lawprose.org/language-change-index/

              Some variants stand the test of time and become commonplace, replacing the original meaning, while others have a brief lifespan. One can choose to embrace all variants and go with the flow, or you can decide which hills to be a “die-hard snoot” about.

          1. IDoNotThinkThatWordMeansWhatYouThinkItMeans*

            Huh? I’ve never heard or seen it used in the first context. That’s just bizarre.

      3. I need a new name*

        “Gentle reminder”
        Means the sender is having not at all gentle thoughts about you not getting them what they need.

    8. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      I use “circle back” “put a pin in it” “close the loop,” “ping” AND “it is what it is.” I think they’re all useful phrases (I personally especially need circle back and close the loop because of how my brain works). I’m a fan of evolving language and like novelty (again, the brain). So sue me! (OK that last one was on purpose).

    9. Tony T*

      I was newly-working w/ a Brit (in Berlin!) who used the “at the end of the day” phrase and, as it was only 1400 hours, I exclaimed: “Jesus, that’s only 3 hours to figure this out!” I “Americanized” him … totally unusual term in Phx, AZ, USA.

    10. Bosslady*

      My teenager and college student both tell me that “out of pocket” means crazy. They heard someone on a call with my husband say they would be out of pocket for the holidays and started giggling uncontrollably. They absolutely would not believe us when we explained what it meant to us.

      1. officefox*

        As a recent MBA out in the workforce that is my definition as well, and now I am worried about oodles of previous interactions with coworkers.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I mean, there’s no reason we couldn’t have an AAM reader on the ISS except that I really hope they don’t have any management issues worth writing in about while up in a small tin can in space with minimal privacy.

    1. ditzbang*

      All I can think of is…

      public class Fetch {
      public static void main(String[] args) {
      String command = “fetch”;
      if (command.equals(“fetch”)) {
      System.out.println(“Error: Not going to happen”);
      }
      }
      }

    2. Serin*

      Yes! It’s a fabulous idea. If you can’t beat ’em, make ’em into entertainment.

      In a similar vein, I was once in an online course taught by a speaker who was really egregiously overusing “y’know,” sometimes multiple times in one sentence. It was so distracting, and the actual content of the course was so boring, that I started keeping track. I ended up with an average of about one y’know every ten seconds.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Ohhh the chemist at my old job said “like, you know” SO MUCH. If we made it into a drinking game you’d be passed out in 5′. And same, so distracting he made it hard to concentrate!

        1. Rainbow*

          I’m… not sure whether we are talking about the same chemist, but as soon as the “y’know” thing popped up I thought of a chemist too. Someone based the opposite side of the Atlantic to Alison?

      2. HermioneMe*

        As a teenager, my dad got me to stop saying “ya know” by saying “no I don’t know” every single time I said it. Cured me very quickly!

        1. Can't think of a funny name*

          I do this to my boss sometimes…something like, “No I don’t know…do you need me to look into it?” (And now I wonder if “look into it” is jargon, hahaha)

        2. Mom*

          My 11 year old always starts conversations with, “Guess what?” Her grandpa now just always answers “43”. It started as a way to encourage her not to say guess what. Now it is just a silly joke and she still says guess what frequently

          1. Oolie*

            When my 11-y/o says, “Guess what?” I always respond, “Chicken butt!” Although that makes her say it more often, not less.

        3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          My coworker tells the story of her mother curing her of saying “like” as a teenager by always replying, “similar to what?”

          So, like, I ate…
          Similar to what?

          1. Pennyworth*

            When I was at school a friend developed a verbal tick of prefacing every utterance with a long ”Ummm”. We started interjecting the ”Ummm” before she did, a bit cruel and teenager-y, but it cured her of the habit and she didn’t hold it against us.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I had a former coworker who told me she didn’t like the phrase “Will do!”

      So one day I responded “I’m right on top of that Rose” and that became our teams go to response.

      1. Hasha Fashasha*

        “The dishes are done, man.” is used in my house frequently, complete with the stoner intonation.

        1. Al*

          We say that at my house, too! But in the larger world, a surprising number of people never saw “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.”

          1. Mr. Shark*

            They are missing out. It’s one of those stupid movies that I’ll end up watching every time it’s on. :)
            I use different versions of “I’m right on top of that, Rose” with my boss. “No problem, I’ll take care of it.” or “I’ll work on that right away” even if I have no idea how to approach the issue.

            1. Works Every Time*

              Speaking of movies, we had a safety comment in a meeting today where we were told to be careful picking things up because someone was injured and I solemly said.

              “No Bend and Snap then.”

              Half of my coworkers snickered. Half looked at me like I had three heads.

      2. daffodil*

        when my daughter was 4, we were talking about how the ketchup bottle was almost gone, but my spouse had already bought a new one and it was in the cupboard. “I’m on top of ketchup!” he said and the kid almost lost her mind giggling at the expression. “On top! of Ketchup!” what a delight.

    4. Sally*

      I do this! Most of the phrases I’ve tried and succeeded in getting adopted are benign: “no worries” and “fantastic”, which weren’t common at my job. Once it comes back to me, I start a new phrase. Some don’t stick at all: “of two minds”. They say each family has its own language and so do offices/jobs. I have fun with injecting new vocab!

      1. Pennyworth*

        When ever I hear of ‘two minds’ or someone ‘wearing two hats’ I think of Yes Minister where it was suggested that this meant someone was two-faced.

        1. SirHumphreyAppleby*

          +1 for the Yes Minister reference.

          I always say I learnt more about how organizations work from Humphrey than any one else!

    5. hbc*

      We did this in college with a friend/classmate who really abused whatever latest catchphrase he’d picked up. We decided on something random, didn’t even bother to define it, and he was dropping “G-force alert!” after hearing it maybe three times. It was kind of amazing.

    6. Quinalla*

      I’ve never made up jargon, but I do enjoy observing how if I intentionally start using different language (sometimes more inclusive language, sometimes just better phrasing of something, or substituting something else for NOT ANOTHER GD SPORT METAPHOR) that others will start picking it up. I do like this idea of trying to get a jargon over-user to pick up something odd haha!

  3. Not A Manager*

    I had an interesting multi-generational conversation about “out of pocket” recently. To us older folks, it means not reachable by phone or other electronic means. To the younger folks, it means talking nonsense or behaving inappropriately. Their examples were all of chastising someone by saying, “that’s out of pocket.”

    1. Valancy Trinit*

      Very accurate IME. I’d also add that the “young folks” in question extends to millennials and not just Gen Z. I, an early-30s, am severely out of touch with the early-20s, but I know that “out of pocket” means “acting a fool”.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Interestingly, I’ve never heard ‘out of pocket’ used in either of those contexts.

        Out of pocket to me (40s, UK), means you’ve paid out for something, and either not got what you paid for or a refund – it’s always been linked to finances.

        I love how language varies!

        1. ThatGirl*

          In a financial sense you hear “out of pocket” referring to costs, such as when I go to the doctor, they may bill the insurance $200 but my out of pocket cost is the $30 copay. I’ve never heard it as your UK meaning.

          (I’ve also heard it as someone acting a fool AND someone being unavailable, it’s all about context clues.)

        2. Reality.Bites*

          Me too. In a work context I could see something like, “I was asked to pick up doughnuts for the meeting and now I’m out of pocket $20!”

          Canada here. Hence the doughnuts both used at meeting and spelled properly. ;)

          1. RLC*

            Same understanding here. I was deeply confused when colleagues used the expression to indicate non-availability. (Born and reared in US, Canadian parent.)
            Oh! The risks of slang terms and phrases in the workplace!

          2. IsthatwithanSoraZ*

            As an American married to a Scot and having lived several years in Canada in the 90s, I have always used “out of pocket” in the financial sense, as described by Reality.Bites and ThatGirl and workswitholdstuff. I have never before heard it to mean “unavailable” as described in this thread, which is fascinating to me.

        3. Clisby*

          That’s what it means to me (US, 69). I’m aware of the meaning of “you can’t contact me” but I always have to think a minute because that’s not my first interpretation. I’d never interpret “out of pocket” as acting foolishly/inappropriately.

          1. PlainJane*

            I don’t hear it used regularly, but my brain was interpreting it as a newer version of “out of the box.”

            “Out of pocket” (no article) definitely would be financial to me. (Gen X, 52)

        4. UKDancer*

          Yes, I’ve only ever heard “out of pocket” to mean that you’ve paid for something and not got it. Never heard either of the other meanings.

          1. Doubleblankie*

            Me too – came onto the comments to see if anyone was saying it was a UK / US difference – there are so many more than you think! Out of pocket would always mean shortchanged to me.

            1. I need a new name...*

              UK too.

              And it’s either ‘down a certain amount of money’ or ‘acting outrageously/inappropriately’ to me.

              Granted the latter is a relatively recent addition for me, it was always just the financial meaning before

        5. Rocket Raccoon*

          I’m in the US and I have only heard “out of pocket” the way you describe.

          Before today, I had never heard “out of pocket” to mean unavailable OR indecorous.

          1. My Cabbages!*

            Same here. Mid 40s, US, and out of pocket would only ever mean “I had to pay for it myself” to me.

        6. Daisy*

          That is what is always used for in my experience also. “I took a work trip but the hotel was out of pocket so I hope my employer pays me back right away.”

        7. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, I’ve never heard “out of pocket” being used to mean anything other than “left short of cash” (40s, Ireland), generally because somebody didn’t pay their share or like you say you didn’t get the item or something wasn’t right. “I ordered a top online and it turned out to be a bad fit but they don’t give refunds so now I’m out of pocket.”

          If somebody at work said they were “out of pocket,” I’d assume they meant short of money.

        8. Victoria Hugo*

          27 and American and I’d never heard any usage but the financial one until two months ago!

        9. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          Ditto! And I’m mid-30s on the west coast of Canada, and usually hip to things that millenials are supposed to be saying, as well as older gens in the business context.

          (counterpoint: I made “hip to the groove” happen within my larger friend group, so maybe I’m less hip than I think)

        10. nm*

          I’m a 20s US, and this is the only context I’ve heard it in either! You and I are somehow living in the same linguistic context, lol

        11. Sara without an H*

          Ditto, and I’m a Yank. If I heard someone say they were “out of pocket,” I’d assumed they’d spent money on something and hadn’t been reimbursed. I’ve never heard it used to mean “unreachable.”

          Of course, I read a lot of British detective fiction, so that probably explains my bias.

        12. Cari*

          That’s what it used to mean, and it *makes sense*. Now it seems to get used a lot for out of office, which… does not. I HATE it. Flames levels of hate (almost as much as I hate “low hanging fruit”).

          I sincerely believe that it’s a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes run amok —- somebody important got confused/didn’t know what it actually meant and used it wrong, nobody wanted to tell them it was wrong and so used it around them, and it rippled out from there.

        13. Hamster Manager*

          Yes, I remember being utterly baffled the first time my boss informed me he’d be ‘out of pocket’ the next week. There was a very long, weird silence.

          Neither the “unavailable” or “behaving out-of-line” definitions make any sense to me.

          1. I need a new name...*

            The ‘unavailable’ thing doesn’t really make much sense to me.

            I choose to interpret the ‘behaving out of line’ meaning as a snooker/pool reference; like a shot was taken but the ball jumped out of the pocket or somesuch. No idea if that’s where that’s from but it’s what makes sense to me!

            (I suppose you could torture that some more and make it justify ‘unavailable’ too… but I think that’s more likely an Emperor’s New Clothes-style malapropism of ‘Out Of Office’)

        14. londonedit*

          I’d never heard ‘out of pocket’ meaning ‘unreachable’ until I started reading here. In my British experience, it means paying for something and being left short. As in, ‘I paid for fast delivery and the thing didn’t turn up for three days so I was left out of pocket for the expense’.

      2. CPinHI*

        I’m 39, and I would absolutely think “out of pocket” meant acting inappropriately. I’ve never heard it in the “not reachable” context. Or maybe I have, and just completely misunderstood the entire conversation!

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          I’ve never heard it used as “acting inappropriately” and always as “unreachable” — unless I completely misunderstood all those prior conversations!

        2. Frickityfrack*

          I’m 38 and I’m also starting to wonder about past conversations. I always thought (outside of obvious financial situations) that it was someone who need to check their behavior. If someone said it to mean they were busy, I’d be super confused.

      3. PhyllisB*

        In our family acting a fool is phrased as acting a donkey. It started with my oldest granddaughter who was…acting a donkey one day and it stuck.

      4. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Huh, I’m an elder millennial at 38 and definitely have never heard it used for anything other than incommunicado.

      5. SchueylerSeestra*

        “Out of Pocket” as slang is an AAVE phrase. I’ve heard my Boomer parents use it way before it made it to the mainstream lexicon.

        1. Seconds*

          I don’t know that it’s only AAVE. My 90-year-old father -in-law has used it for decades, and none of us are Black.

          1. Seconds*

            Oh, sorry — I mean in the sense of unreachable. I am getting confused about which senses are being referred to!

    2. The Original K.*

      Yep. I’m on the older end of the millennial generation. To me the phrase has Three meanings:
      Slang: wild, inappropriate
      Insurance: costs that aren’t covered
      Corporate: unavailable.

      I’d never heard the last one until my current job – and the person saying it is a contemporary of mine. The context made it easy to figure out, but it was new to me (and I don’t say it, I just say unavailable).

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I’ve had a similar experience. I never heard the corporate use until the last…year? And I’m in my early 30s, I’ve been working for a bit.

        But as Alison says, I just take it as funny. If someone uses it in a corporate way I just hear the slang way and giggle.

      2. Dr. Rebecca*

        To me it has only ever had the second meaning. For the other two, I’m seriously wondering…what pocket were they in that they’re now out of?

      3. Phony Genius*

        I have ONLY heard it in sense or referring to any expense that is not reimbursed, insurance or otherwise (like travel expenses). As in “Bob said you’ll have to pay for the extra guacamole out of pocket.”

        1. Loch Lomond*

          Came here to say this, the only way I’ve ever heard that phrase use means paying for something yourself directly.

        2. Siege*

          Same, and it drives me nuts that my colleague uses it in the “unreachable” sense. I want to ask “what pocket is it that you live in that you will be away from?”

        3. A Simple Narwhal*

          Loving the Guacamole Bob reference!

          I’ve heard it referred to as the expense version and as the being out of line version, but I think I’m more likely to hear it as an expense. Though I listen to a bunch of British and Canadian podcasters so maybe that’s where my familiarity comes from?

      4. boo bot*

        Same age range (older millennial), same awareness of only meanings 1 & 2 (slang & insurance).

        I’m glad to have learned this third meaning, though, because if someone told me they were going to be “out of pocket” in a work context I would probably have some concerns!

      5. nona*

        There’s also a sports version (“out of *the* pocket”), where it means they person is out of their spot of the play where they can receive/send the sportzball?

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      This! I am an in-betweener (tail end of Gen X, Elder Millenial, Xennial, Oregon Trail Generation, take your pick) and have never heard of “out of pocket” to mean “unavailable.” I have only (and it feels recent?) heard it the way The Youths are using it.

      1. ZSD*

        I’m also an X-ennial and have only heard it used to mean “unavailable.” This post is the first I’ve ever heard of it meaning “inappropriate.”

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think it’s one of those phrases that originated in AAVE, though I’ve seen it spread beyond that, like many things do.

          1. The Original K.*

            Yeah, I’m Black and the “wild, inappropriate” usage has been around in AAVE for a while.

          2. Radioactive Cyborg Llamas*

            I first heard it in 2012, from my students, who were largely Black. At the time I definitely assumed that it came from a sense of out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills etc. being obnoxious and unreasonable.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’m over 60, and before this I only ever heard it in the insurance financial sense “He had to pay for his medication out of pocket” or the unavailable sense “Joe is going to be out of pocket next week so you’ll have to cover for him.”

    4. Jake*

      Yeah, out of pocket and unavailable weren’t synonymous where I worked.

      Unavailable was a short amount of indefinable time i.e. I’ll be unavailable to attend that meeting.

      Out of pocket meant vacation without phone or email access for a defined time period i.e. I’ll be out of pocket next week, contact Mike with any issues.

      1. Been doing that wrong*

        I always thought “out of pocket” meant that you were out of the office, but working/ available by phone. Like you are literally working out of your pocket.

        1. megaboo*

          I thought “out of pocket” means someone has an attitude with you. Like, she was really out of pocket.

        2. LHOI*

          This is how I use it! Like working from my phone, which is…in my pocket.

          Now I’m worried about what people have thought over the years…

    5. Blonde Spiders*

      This is exactly what I thought. I’m Gen X, but I use it to mean being inappropriate. It’s more office friendly than “showing your ass” which is my go-to.

      1. Haven’t picked a username yet*

        I am a young genxer and I have never heard it meaning behaving inappropriately – and I have college kids- and I have never heard them say it.

        Is it regional? I live in the Northeast but work for a large bank with coworkers all over.

        I have of course heard it in the financial way- but hear it often at work to mean completely unavailable.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      To me, it means costs not covered by your healthcare coverage. You pay it out of (your own) pocket.

      No other interpretation makes sense to me. Is it regional?

      1. The Original K.*

        I’m in the urban northeast. There’s a song devoted to Bay Area slang that references it, so it’s not super localized (link to follow).

          1. The Original K.*

            Also worth noting that that video is 13 years old, so the slang meaning for the phrase isn’t new.

            1. Just Another Starving Artist*

              Yeah, my Boomer-age relatives are familiar with it, but we’re also black, so there’s that.

      2. Nn*

        I’d heard the healthcare one first so when I heard it in the context of going wild, I thought it made sense in a similar way to “mouth writing checks your ass can’t cash” – being inappropriate/going crazy and not caring or just being oblivious to the (social, physical, etc.) cost to yourself.

        The unavailable one is new to me, but I imagine it could make sense for folks who are usually contactable by at least their mobile or other portable devices away from the office.

        …or they work in a pocket dimension with very specific frequencies. Maybe.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I always read “out of pocket” to mean broke, or overspending. I’ve never heard it mean unavailable until AAM.

    8. Melanie Cavill*

      To me, out of pocket means paying for something yourself. I had no idea it had other connotations.

    9. Sunshine*

      It’s so funny to me to see the different meanings everyone is familiar with! I’ve only ever heard it used to mean “acting foolishly.” Cracking up at the idea of informing my boss that I’ll be out of pocket all afternoon!

    10. hellohello*

      In my experience the split is more by race/culture, and secondarily by age. Out of pocket meaning acting wild/talking nonsense is AAVE, I believe, and in my experience most commonly used by younger black people/other people of color, though like a lot of AAVE it’s definitely spreading beyond black people.

      1. Alicia*

        Thank you for this! I came here looking for this comment. Yes, the “out of line” meaning is from Black English and has been around for quite a while. It’s fascinating (and, honestly, frustrating) how far Black linguistic innovations can spread yet how quickly knowledge of their Black origins is “forgotten” by non-Black speakers.

        1. Sadie*

          Oh interesting! I thought it was only AAVE but is it common in Black Englishes outside the US as well?

    11. Allegra*

      I think part of the confusion about “out of pocket” is that—to my knowledge—using the phrase to mean out of control or wild was originally AAVE that, like a lot of AAVE terms, got taken into broader use by people on the internet who aren’t part of that community and don’t actually know all the connotations or appropriate usage. So people think it’s just internet slang as opposed to having this other source (like woke, tea, periodt). I think that’s why it appears generational, since young people tend to be more prone to using “online” language.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’ve only ever heard it in insurance contexts. If someone said it to me and they weren’t referring to a co-pay or deductible, they’d get the blankest stare that ever blanked.

    13. Dalpaengee*

      To me, it’s all about insurance and expenses! I worked at an insurance broker for a while… I understand the other meanings, but my mind always immediately goes to “Wait, what did you have to pay?”

    14. Jessica*

      Wow, this has been a fascinating subthread! White American GenX here, and I can’t produce evidence, but I believe “out of pocket” in the “unavailable” sense is NOT a recently generated piece of corporatespeak, but a much older regionalism (that may now be getting a second life as corporate jargon).

      1. Robin*

        Yeah this is really interesting! I have counted four meanings:

        1. money lost in a transaction: “I am $2k out of pocket after that job, not worth it”
        2. taking something too far: “he is acting out of pocket” (origins in AAVE)
        3. Unavailable: as used by Allison/this comment section (corporate speak).
        4. Personal expense: “I had to pay $40 out of pocket for my medicine” (contexts where financial reimbursement is normal, like insurance).

        It looks like they all kind of revolve around the concept of being beyond a particular limit: acceptable behavior, reimbursement coverage, reachability (is that a word?), profitability/ability to break even. Even with that tenuous connection, these really are such disparate contexts and meanings. Language is so cool

      2. Seashell*

        I too am a White American Gen X-er, and the definition I would think of is “unavailable.” Even then, it’s not something I have heard regularly. Maybe I heard it in a movie from a long time ago? I’m a northerner, and it gives me a Southern vibe, so I agree that it may be regional in a region other than my own.

    15. yala*

      And I guess there’s some folks in the middle like me, for whom it means paying for your own expenses

    16. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Age and expressions are so interesting!!

      I’m 60 this year and I’ve heard all the variations but have not heard the corporate one irl, only in forums like this.

      Slang/AAVE: wild, inappropriate, acting foolish
      Insurance: costs that aren’t covered
      Corporate (and apparently southern): unavailable
      Sports: player out of the pocket, like the quarterback is in a pocket

    17. Cousin Lou*

      Fascinating! I, and I assumed others in my workplace, have used that phrase to mean away from your desk but available on a phone. Like I’m working “out of my pocket”. I would use this if I was doing something during working hours but still responsive to work. Like sitting at the airport or waiting for my car to get an oil change or something. I’d still answer emails, texts, and team messages but I wouldn’t be working on larger projects, presentations, etc.

    18. Selina83*

      I’ll prefix this by saying I’m 40 this year. I’m really confused at this phrase, maybe it’s not a UK thing? As I’ve only ever heard it been used in the sense of “I don’t want to be out of pocket” as in I want my money back.

    19. Ladyinwaiting*

      If you’re British/spread generally British-influenced English, it means that you’ve spent money on something and it hasn’t been repaid, as in: “I paid for that last lot of stationery on my credit card and haven’t been reimbursed, so I’m £30 out of pocket”

    20. Good Enough For Government Work*

      I’m from the UK, and here ‘out of pocket’ exclusively means to be ripped off monetarily, to be owed money which won’t be paid back.

    21. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I was only familiar with the latter definition and was super confused by Alison’s colleague!

    22. Wintermute*

      the “acting inappropriately” meaning dates to AT LEAST the 1970s, in street pimp culture it meant a woman that was not, well, putting money in your pocket, because she was acting too independently or not submissively enough. It’s used *constantly* in documentaries that interview 1970s human traffickers like Fillmore Slim.

      That alone is why I’ll never use it. I get that word meanings change and its largely been divorced from its ugly, misogynistic context, but I still can’t help but hear it that way.

      1. Random Dice*

        Today I learned that “Out of pocket” can mean:

        1) Unavailable (to Gen Xers)

        2) Acting like a fool (to Gen Z / Millennials)

        3) Out of money / broke (widespread)

        4) A woman who’s not subservient enough (70s pimps)

        5) Ripped off / cheated of money owed (UK)

  4. Box of Kittens*

    My coworkers use a TON of corporate jargon completely unironically. When I first started here I had a private bingo board of phrases. It became impossible to keep up with. But I am happy to say I have resisted picking up any of it so far.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I think the funniest I’ve seen was when I was working at a company that did a lot of artificial intelligence development and also called tasks “action items”. There was at least one conversation where someone tried to assign me to do AI and I answered that AI didn’t seem like the right approach for a such a simple task.

  5. ZSD*

    My pet peeve is people using “issue” when they mean “problem.” If something is a problem, just say it’s a problem! Problem isn’t a dirty word.

    1. Thistle Pie*

      In my mind those mean the exact same thing. Do other people use them to mean different things?

        1. Rose*

          Agreed. I think they’re fine to use I interchangeably, but IMO a problem is bad and need to be solved. An issue is maybe bad or maybe just unresolved and needs to be talked about/strategized around. So you might use them at different times.

          Overall, this feels like complaining that someone is saying happy, instead of joyful. They’re more or less synonyms and neither is really jargony or trendy.

          1. AllY'all*

            I knew there was a slight difference between them in my head but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. This is exactly it.

      1. ZSD*

        Issue is supposed to a neutral term. “The issue is whether we should travel by train or plane.” That’s not a problem. It’s just a topic for discussion.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I agree with that. I use “issue” all the time because it’s not something that is a problem, but maybe will become a problem if we don’t address it now.
          I don’t see an issue with saying “issue”.

      2. M*

        I also use them as synonyms though I can see a possible distinction where “issue” might be more broad (equivalent to theme or topic) and “problem” is more micro and concrete in scale, but also possessing a harsher connotation?

      3. PinkCandyfloss*

        Issue is a neutral something that needs to be resolved.

        Problem is a negative something that needs to be resolved.

        Problem definition: a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
        Issue definition: an important topic or situation for debate or discussion.z

        Problem always comes with a negative connotation; Issue does not always.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Agreed with this being neutral, especially with working across many teams. ‘X team brought up this problem’ makes X team seem like a pita or that we are blaming. ‘X team brought up this issue’ is just X team pointing out a thing to resolve.

        2. just some guy*

          “Problem” isn’t necessarily negative. In my experience that connotation depends very much on people’s backgrounds: people who work at the public-facing end of things are more likely to understand it the way you’ve described, but tech-focussed people often use it as a neutral synonym to “question”. “a maths problem”, “a chess problem” etc. It can even be taken as positive; searching on “interesting problem” will find plenty of examples.

          This caused drama at one of my old workplaces more than once: our tech group would use “problem” in the neutral sense, and then be very surprised when the public-facing people took it as a negative judgement.

      4. Pennyworth*

        Absolutely – a problem is something wrong needs to be fixed, and issue needs to be addressed. that

        1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          I’ll stare directly at the sun but never touch base with the mirror.

    2. Anon for This*

      Early in my career, I worked for an engineering team that lost their ish if anyone used the word “problem.” You could use any other word to convey the same idea and probably be fine, but say “problem” and it’s like you placed a turd in the middle of the conference table. 20 years later I’m still painfully careful never to use that particular word.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Agree — in my industry (and especially as a woman) — calling something a problem is tantamount to accusing everyone of stupidity and incompetence. It is a hard no-no. Calling out an “issue” on the other hand, is acceptable.

      2. Not Australian*

        “There are no problems here, only opportunities.”

        Thank you, I’m here all week…

        1. Where'd my old name go?*

          Let’s say people in a certain role are regularly making a particular mistake. This, to me, is a problem we should address with training or user interface improvements. But my work (very large retail) doesn’t call this a problem or even an issue. It’s an opportunity.

          I always want to say “there’s an opportunity here for us not to use crappy jargon,” but I want to stay employed, so I don’t.

            1. Too Many Tabs Open*

              Or according to family members who served in the military, “It’s not a problem; it’s an opportunity to excel.”

              The ones who were enlisted folks use it sarcastically; the ones who were officers use it unironically.

        2. Kelly L.*

          I used to occasionally work with someone who used “opportunity” this way. Like if she was reviewing something and found a mistake, she’d say there was an opportunity on page 5.

      3. Camellia*

        Same here, but we can’t even say “issue”. We have to say “observation”.

        “I have an observation about that.”

        1. It Was Hell, Recalls Former Child*

          Camellia, poor you! Working in an office where they’ve created a euphemism for saying a euphemism!

        2. Pennyworth*

          That would drive me nuts.
          Observation: it is raining today
          Issue: our instruments are inaccurate when they are wet
          Problem : the covers on the instruments are not waterproof
          Solution: install waterproof covers.

      4. kiki*

        I worked for an engineering team where a leader once took issue with use of the word “fail.” There’s something in engineering called a failover. It is defined in the dictionary as “a method of protecting computer systems from failure, in which standby equipment automatically takes over when the main system fails.” It is a defined process.

        The leader still had issue seeing the word “fail” so the engineers took to calling it “successover.” And they replaced every instance of the word failure with “success.” It was pretty funny

    3. TechWorker*

      I also think ‘issue’ and ‘problem’ mean basically the same thing.

      I also have a colleague who says ‘I have one doubt’ when they mean ‘I have a question’. It used to jar a bit but I’ve accepted it’s just how they talk. (And… also probably reflects badly on me that ‘doubt’ would make me bristle anyway :p)

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, I had come to the conclusion it was standard in Indian English & I should treat it like ‘question’ – but thanks for the link!

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Oh, Indianglish! “Do the needful” is a really common one.

            I work in tech. Indianglish is really, really common at least in Silicon Valley.

      1. Roland*

        “Doubt” for question is something I hear a lot from ESL speakers since in their native language there are words that cover both.

    4. Antilles*

      For this one in particular, the usual explanation is that “problem” automatically carries a stronger negative connotation in the reader’s mind than “issue”. So using “issue” is effectively a way of softening/minimizing it a little.

      YMMV on how much you buy that explanation, but that’s the justification behind that one.

        1. Mill Miker*

          In my software job, we spend a lot of time dealing with the “Issue queue”, and all I can thing of is how “Observation queue” sounds like part of a tourist trap, and not a place where tasks are stored.

      1. XF1013*

        Seconded. As a software developer, when I started meeting with the company’s clients, I was trained never to use words in front of them like “problem” or “bug” or “error” or the dreaded “crash” — always to use the gentler “issue” instead. I left that company years ago but the habit remains.

    5. Not A Manager*

      I’m surprised at all the people who hear “issue” and “problem” as being the same. To me, an issue is something that needs attention but isn’t necessary bad. A problem is bad.

      1. It Was Hell, Recalls Former Child*

        I’m sure that “issue” became the word to use during the era (the ’90s?) when it was considered negative to identify something, no matter how bad, as a problem. (“Aaaah! There’s a giant monster sucking up all the people in town and digesting them immediately! It’s a problem!” “Nope, it’s an *issue.*”)

        1. Marshmallow*

          That mentality is still alive and well in some parts of corporate America. We don’t have problems we have opportunities.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I like a good old fashioned SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. You need the negative words for it to make sense.

    6. Pikachu*

      I always thought that was just a grammatically strange way to use the word that evolved from “to take issue with”

    7. Marshmallow*

      To me issue and problem are same same… I dislike when someone uses the term challenge or opportunity instead of issue or problem because of toxic positivity. Sometimes things are problems not opportunities.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Seriously. I loathe the toxic positivity euphemisms.

        Issue means it may or may not become a problem, so it should be addressed sooner than later.

        “Opportunity” means someone may be trying to set you up to be a sucker or even the fall guy.

        IMO, opportunity is only valid in cases of real opportunities: New job, chance to travel to another country, chance to buy a house. A new drudgery job task is not an “opportunity”.

    8. Festively Dressed Earl*

      I have a similar issue with people using problem to mean opportunity. It’s a real challenge for me.

        1. I Am Not An Engineer*

          In school one of my teachers used “opportunity” to refer to all tests, be they quizzes or exams. I thought it was hilarious.

    9. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Me too. I also hate “problematic” for “racist” but I think that ship has sailed.

    10. Curmudgeon in California*

      LOL.

      I often use “issue” as in “He has an issue” or “She has issues”. The response can be “No, she has a full subscription.” or even “Hah, he has an entire publishing house.”

      So issue here means problem, but it’s a personal problem.

    11. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      What on earth is wrong with saying “issue”?

      People don’t choose their words that carefully. It is a pretty normal word to describe a problem or challenge or obstacle or thing that requires further thinking.

      It certainly isn’t jargon or business speak.

      Also, assuming that you know best what people truly mean and feeling irked that they’ve used the wrong word sounds like it would become pretty tedious for you. Maybe they actually mean “issue”.

      1. allathian*

        If it’s a problem, why not say so?

        A problem is always negative, unless it’s a task to be solved, like a mathematical problem. An issue is more neutral, something to deal with, but it’s usually much less urgent than a problem.

  6. Doing My Best*

    Unless the meaning is totally unclear, this is definitely not a hill to die on. (And sometimes touch-base just means a phone call, quick face-to-face, or email…)

    1. KHB*

      I agree. Save your indignation for the corporate-BS-speak that’s actually unclear (and/or manipulative, like the people who say “opportunities” instead of “problems” to avoid ever admitting that they’ve done something wrong).

      And if you don’t have any unclear or manipulative corporate-BS-speak to complain about, consider yourself very lucky indeed.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I worked somewhere that “opportunity” meant “someone nobody else wants to touch, but you are too new or powerless to reasonably say No.”

        1. KHB*

          See, that, to me, isn’t even that bad – it’s trying to spin a sow’s ear into a silk purse, but at least it’s fairly open about it. I’m thinking more about the letter a couple of years ago about an executive who would say things like “I understand there have been some opportunities accessing Microsoft Teams.” My employer isn’t quite as nonsensical as that, but it’s currently coming to light that most employees don’t have any confidence in senior leadership, and the bigwigs keep talking about this as an “opportunity.” Like, I don’t know which school of management taught them that being in the C-suite means never having to say you’re sorry, but I’d have SO much more respect for them if they’d just come out and say, for once in their lives, that they’ve effed up.

      2. Green Tea*

        Completely agree with this. Jargon is only an issue for me if it obscures meaning, or if it’s language only ‘insiders’ understand, shutting out newcomers. If it’s easily understandable and just not your preferred wording, I don’t see how corporate language variations are so different from regional or cultural language variations.

        It might not be OP’s cup of tea, but why would they think they have the right to dictate how others speak? It seems very much like a ‘just get over it, silently’ situation.

      3. Cynan*

        That, or offensive – I’ve pushed back on coworkers using “powwow” for “meeting” before.

        “Touch base” is not a hill worth dying on.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          I agree with you that saying pow wow so flippantly should be retired. Luckily, I’m hearing it less and less.

          The other day I was having a casual conversation at the coffee bar with a coworker about our hometowns and I said something like, “Oh yeah, I used to enjoy going to the Pow Wows!” Someone else walked in and obviously picked up on me saying that and made a face, so I immediately had to add, “It was a nice thing about growing up in Oklahoma. We had a lot of exposure to Native traditions.” My comment obviously needed some context! Ha!

        2. MsClaw*

          ‘How much do we want to open the kimono…..’

          As much as I don’t want to hear about ‘synergy’ I want to hear some phrases even less.

    2. fishfeud*

      This was my reaction as well – touch base to me is a broader term than just meeting. Can be helpful if you don’t know how you’ll want to connect on something or whether a meeting would be necessary.

    3. Rose*

      Right, to me a touch base is a specific kind of meeting, usually either a standing one or very as box, often with no or less structure than other meetings, to talk about shared stuff going on. It’s the type of meeting. It’s the type of meeting I often think will be a time waster but then wind up finding out something important but I didn’t realize.

      1. Beth*

        For me also; “touch base” as a verb has a nuance that can be a useful part of communication, although I never hear it used as a noun. The verb is used regularly in my firm, and doesn’t bother anyone as far as I know.

        I understand getting fed up with jargon and buzzwords, but it helps to think about whether the word or phrase actually has its own specific value.

      2. The Rural Juror*

        I generally understand, “Let’s have a touch base.” to mean a quick meeting that doesn’t require an agenda. One time a coworker was talking about how annoying it was to have longer meetings with no agendas. His favorite phrase is, “No agenda, not attenda!” So we like to differentiate that a touch base doesn’t require structure :)

    4. NotRealAnonforThis*

      I’ll agree with that.

      That said, I had to sit through an in-person meeting full of Bro-ey project managers using a phrase (to the point of ridiculousness) that most definitely was not industry related, and did have far more than one meaning, the off-color ones being more well known amongst our collective peer group. Thankfully this was long enough ago that I still had some semblance of a filter and my face didn’t have a mind of its own!!!

    5. Gumby*

      I always hear “touch base” being used as a verb – it might indicate a not-yet-planned short meeting, an email, a Teams message, etc. Just that we’ll need to do at least one more exchange of information/status on whatever topic is under discussion. The way LW says it is a substitute for meeting (a noun), and using the hyphen, makes me think that it is being used in a different manner. “We need to touch base on this before the deadline next Monday” wouldn’t bug me but “Let’s have a touch-base at 3 p.m. today” probably would. The first isn’t necessarily a synonym for “have a meeting” but it sounds like the second might be (I am not familiar with that usage so can’t be sure).

      1. Allegra*

        Agree, I have never heard “touch base” used as a noun until this post. I use it as a verb a lot which doesn’t feel particularly jargony?

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          Agree. I think touch base as a verb makes sense and is totally acceptable, but that “touch-base” as a noun just sounds like someone meant to say touchpoint and got confused.

          (And no shade about confusing words, my brain is a master at spoonerisms, malaphors, and other such slips.)

      2. Yorick*

        There’s a lot of jargon with verbs being used as nouns when there are already nouns for that concept, and I think those are more jarring for some people (invite instead of invitation is one that really annoys me)

        1. tessa*

          You are my friend! “Invite” for invitation, “consult” for “consultation,” etc.

          Just…no, people!

        2. Pennyworth*

          I dislike verbing – which does what it says, turns nouns into verbs. It seems unstoppable though, just part of the march of language.

      3. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, touch base doesn’t have to be a meeting, it can be a quick call, chat, email, message, whatever, on the subject. It’s much less formal than a full meeting.
        I agree about your usage. Having it as a verb makes sense, a noun, no…

      1. JustAnotherKate*

        I used to write “f/u so-and-so” on my calendar to remember to follow up with them, until I shared my calendar with someone who said “wow, are you angry with all these folks?” Not that F word! Now I use t/b for “touch base,” but I don’t use touch-base as a noun.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          That is absolutely how my brain interprets “f/u” as well, then I remind it that it stands for “follow-up” as well.

        2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          When the committee chair wants me to save the date, they send me an STD :-)

        3. Skytext*

          The Brand Ambassador for my favorite cruise line tends to post a lot of tongue-in-cheek and goofy humor on his page. He signs off with FFS which stands for “For Fun’s Sake” but my mind always goes to the naughtier interpretation (which is usually the more appropriate for the idiots he is usually responding to lol).

        4. Marshmallow*

          Haha! One of of my colleagues uses that and then puts my name after and the first time I was like “hey”…

        5. SirHumphreyAppleby*

          Ahaha, my mom years ago when helping me with homework wrote FO teacher’s name, against problems that I was supposed to Find Out from my teacher. Took her a minute to realize why I was laughing. Was especially funny because the teacher in question was deeply unpleasant.

        6. The Rural Juror*

          The bank in my hometown renamed themselves from “Hometown Bank and Trust” to a name with the initials “FU” and didn’t seem to think about how using the abbreviation wasn’t the right way to go with their marketing…

    6. Adultier Adult*

      Some buzzwords make me crazy, but I do not actually mind touch base- I use it purposefully when I mean super informal, not on calendar, just real quick check in whenever we get to it

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yes, and I use it to mean something like “if I see you when I have the result, I’ll tell you, otherwise I’ll just message you on Teams or send an email”. Not formal, but you know the results will be coming and I’ll let you know.

    7. ExpiredDannon*

      Funny enough, I first heard “hill to die on” at my job here, and it’s the same windbag who says it way too many times (among many many other things).

    8. thievingwillow*

      Plus, this is just how language develops. There’s a great video by a linguist about words that were decried in their day as obnoxious buzzwords that are now just… words. Like “interview” used as a verb, or “donate” instead of “make a donation.”

      Link: https://youtu.be/8qAA7G3vj4s

    9. sundae funday*

      I agree. It might be annoying to hear corporate speak, but as long as you understand what is being communicated, just let it go. Policing the way others speak is rarely the answer, even if they’re being annoying. They may have picked it up without meaning to, and talking to them about it will just make them self-conscious.

      1. sundae funday*

        Also, “touch base” to me has a totally different meaning than “have a meeting.” A “meeting” is formal, put on my calendar to block everything else out, and involves multiple people and may come with an agenda and need someone to take notes. “Touch base” means an informal chat, usually between only two people and only for a few minutes or as long as it takes to discuss something fairly minor.

        1. thievingwillow*

          Yes, if my boss says he wants to touch base about the status of a project, that has a very different connotation than if he wants a meeting about it. Touching base is brief and casual and probably just us two; I won’t feel the need to prep for it and will consider a spitballed estimate of timeframe good enough. It might be thirty seconds in text, even. A meeting, though, I’ll expect to be over the phone/video/in person, I’ll spend a little more time planning for, and won’t be surprised if he invites other stakeholders.

  7. Eldritch Office Worker*

    Jargon just sort of slides off my back at this point, and that always means I’m worried that I’m using it because I don’t think about it.

    As an aside, as a spicy brained person who sometimes has a really hard time articulating thoughts, “does that make sense?” is not *always* condescending. Some of us are really unsure if what came out of our mouths is anything resembling the english language. I believe you on what the situation here was, but just a minor defense of the phrase.

    1. Eulerian*

      Yes I’m autistic and use “does that make sense?” a lot – I have a hard time judging if what I’m saying actually makes sense to the other person.

      1. Rose*

        I’m not autistic but same! I think it’s a totally reasonable thing to ask. People who assume everything they’re saying is clear to everyone else in the room are not usually gray communicators in my experience. It’s important to check and make sure people are following what you’re saying sometimes. It seems like an odd thing to take offense to.

        1. DisgruntledPelican*

          Totally agree. I’m also not autistic, but I know and work with many people who are, or are ND in other ways, or just don’t have the same knowledge/references/experiences that I do and might need clarification. Plus I’m not always articulate.

        2. Wintermute*

          I think there’s a pretty big contextual difference, if they’re asking that after explaining a complicated system architecture or articulating a newly proposed policy or workflow they’re probably asking a genuine question, either “did you follow that, because it’s not easy?” or “does what I’m proposing sound like it can be reasonably implemented?”

          If they’re asking about something very elemental, it’s probably passive-aggressive.

          1. Eulerian*

            But even then, a lot of the time I will say “does this make sense?” when to the observer, it quite clearly makes sense. Some neurodivergent people really struggle to tell if what they’re saying in their head is what they’re actually saying.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        As a former trainer who often needs to explain unfamiliar processes, I use it. Delivery is important. I kind of screw my face up to indicate it can be confusing.

        1. JustAnotherKate*

          I use it for a similar reason — I’ve been doing my job for 15 years, and I’m often talking to less experienced people, so I want to make sure I didn’t skip a bunch of steps that are ingrained in my brain but are unlikely to be ingrained in the other person’s.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Exactly —
        aloud: “Does that make sense?”
        silently: “Or did I totally just muck up the words that I was trying to say and end up rambling nonsense?”

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Exactly. I don’t see it necessarily as a superiority issue, more the opposite. I’m worried I didn’t communicate well, so I’m asking if what I said was clear because of my own doubts.
          Does that make sense?

      4. sundae funday*

        Not autistic, but ADHD, and same. I use “does that make sense” a lot because my brain has an unusual way of conceptualizing things and I’m not always sure an explanation is “landing” with the other person (plus I have a tendency to ramble about unrelated things that tend to deflect from the conversation).

        I really hope it’s not seen as condescending when I do it, because it’s 100% me blaming myself for not being able to communicate well, and 0% trying to look down on someone else!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          ADHD here too. I use it to check to see that I am explaining things in language that the person understands and that I didn’t miss a step or three.

    2. Olivia*

      I just love that someone said “neurologically spicy” or something like that the other week here and we’re already picking it up. Because that is one fun term that I really want to spread.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I use that outside of AAM! I think it’s pretty commonly used in the ND community as a catch all for not wanting to name all your diagnoses but want to indicate you’re on the team.

      2. SpiderLadyCEO*

        I really don’t love it! To me it comes across as having a dirty/smutty mind, since “spicy” is also code for “smutty”. Every time someone says it I think “what does having a dirty mind have to do with this conversation and why do I need to know?” It takes a bit to click they meant neurodivergence!

        1. Esmae*

          I’m used to “spicy” in the context of kitten fostering, so my first thought is that they’re feisty and likely to hiss.

    3. Abogado Avocado*

      One of the reasons that “Does that make sense” has come into more common usage is that it is recommended by therapists as a way for speakers to determine whether the listener is in agreement with the speaker’s thought process, particularly when the speaker does not wish to jump to conclusions. It is not meant as condescension or jargon, OP. I suppose the speaker could ask, “Do you agree?”, but that question tends to be viewed as meaning whether one agrees with the result (e.g., “5”) and not the thought process (e.g., “1+4=5”). Hence, I’m all for “Does that make sense?” while abhorring the use of “circle back”, “convo”, “past history” (as if there were another kind of history), “EQ”, and “it goes without saying” (then, please, don’t say it!).

      1. Kyrielle*

        …now I just really want to say “And of course, it goes without saying.” And just stop there, if it goes without saying. No, I won’t do it, but I am getting a laugh out of the thought.

          1. StephChi*

            This reminds me of an episode from a couple of years ago of the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” where he said, “You know my first guest because he’s Paul McCartney.”

          2. Wintermute*

            There’s a part of a comedy routine like that! I think it’s part of one of the versions of the imcomparable Rowan Atkinson’s “The awards ceremony” which is about a bitter old actor who accepts an award on behalf of one of his coworkers while taking pot shots at him the whole time (like, “what does he have that sets him apart from all others? Well the answer, in one word, is syphilis, and what a wonderful thing it is he’s begun to share his gift with the younger generation of actors”)

        1. arthur lester*

          At the end of the day, it goes without saying that the bottom line is basically the long and short of it.

    4. Nonsense*

      Was coming here to defend “does that make sense?” I say it all the time, and if I’m condescending to anyone, it’s myself for not being/ feeling coherent!

    5. Loch Lomond*

      Yeah, asking if something makes sense that you’ve just said just seems like a neutral way to confirm that they’re getting your meaning, unless you specifically use a condescending tone. It just seems like an extremely normal thing to say.

      If anything, I think defaulting to finding that phrase inherently condescending when it’s used in a neutral or casual manner signals defensiveness or ego on the recipient’s part, which would give me way more pause than would someone who just frequently uses “does that make sense?”

    6. Robin Ellacott*

      I use it a lot after conveying a decision after someone consulted me about what to do… shorthand for “you know things I don’t about your department, so is there any reason that doesn’t make sense that I didn’t think of?”

      I sure hope nobody took it as condescending? I meant it as the opposite!

    7. mrs whosit*

      I wanted to defend that one, too. I can see how it could be condescending in context, but I use it a lot in writing to students (that or “does that help?”) – and I find it gets a lot more responses than something like “Let me know if you have any questions.”

    8. Willow Pillow*

      Also ND (autistic), I frequently ask “does that make sense?” because I honestly don’t know if I’m communicating clearly. My brain is always full of information and sometimes I have trouble finding the right words. I am dismayed to hear that someone is interpreting this as condescending – it is the opposite for me!

      One time I was talking in my sleep, and I mumbled a bunch of work jargon to my partner and then asked “does that make sense?” They said “no”, and I annoyedly responded “never mind!” and went back to sleep.

    9. Can't think of a funny name*

      I agree…I ask “does that make sense” b/c I’m thinking “I don’t even know what I just said.”

    10. Squeebird*

      Spicy brained, I love it. I will sometimes choose to say “Am I making sense?” instead of “Does that make sense?” because that makes it clearer that I’m asking about whether I’ve communicated successfully and doesn’t (I think) imply any lack of capability on the part of the listener.

    11. Yorick*

      I think a lot of people use it that way! I’ve thought about trying to come up with a replacement (“have I explained that fully?” or something like that?) so people don’t think I think they can’t understand stuff.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I use that one a lot. Also, “Did I answer your question?” in a genuinely curious tone. And sometimes just owning it: “Was that clear? I’m not certain I was clear on that one.”

    12. Filosofickle*

      It is absolutely wild how we all interpret things so differently. (Just check out the “pocket” thread!) I’ve been told/coached not to say “does that make sense?” NOT because it’s condescending but because it’s the opposite – it undermines the speaker by sounding insecure. I’m not 100% sold on this and I think it’s a normal thing to ask sometimes — did what I say make sense to you? But I have heard this advice so so often that I do often try to avoid it and instead ask if they have questions about what I said.

      1. Marshmallow*

        I think it’s why we have a big push at my workplace to “always assume positive intent”.

        Granted this is problematic because it’s mostly being directed at the women who don’t appreciate being mansplained all the time…

    13. Flowers*

      oh god same!

      I’ve never heard it as being condescending, I never mean to be condescending. It’s more like – I am very well aware that I dont’ talk well, I stutter here and there and repeat things esp when I get nervous AF. I’ve read over my voice-t0-texts and I cringe so hard reading them. Luckily the recipients tend to understand them easily.

    14. Swedish Cat Ladder*

      I think whether it seems condescending or not depends a lot on who says it and in what context. There is a very high level male manager in my workplace who says it absolutely all the time, and when he’s saying it, I definitely get the sense that he thinks we’re all too stupid to understand the Very Important Things he’s explaining. But if a coworker says it, or even my direct supervisor, I’d assume they were just checking to make sure what they were saying was clear.

    15. Robin*

      I do not have a spicy brain, but I also use that often. That said, I have been told I can sometimes come across as harsh or condescending. So one thing I have done to try to soften it is to say “did I make sense?” or something longer like “I feel like that might have become convoluted at the end there, did what I just said make sense?” because then it is not a question of whether the audience is capable of understanding me but rather whether I was capable of communicating to them. And, ultimately, that is my actual question: did I communicate effectively? Do I need to go over something again? This is humble enough that folks generally do not feel condescended to and I can get actual feedback.

      1. sundae funday*

        Ooh I really like that change from “does that make sense” to “did I make sense?” It’s definitely what I’m actually asking, and it makes it clear that I’m the one with the issue if I’m not communicating clearly.

    16. My Cabbages!*

      Yup. I have a tendency to use metaphors that make total sense to my brain but no one else’s, so I’ve trained myself to check in after using one. (Also not neurotypical here, which is probably related)

    17. kathjnc*

      Yeah, me too. It’s more a recognition that I can sometimes be inarticulate, and an opening for the person to ask for clarification on anything.

    18. Quinalla*

      Agreed, I 100% agree that condescending “Does that make sense?” sucks, but I use it genuinely all the time to make sure my explanation/training made sense. Even if they don’t want to say it doesn’t make sense, you can usually tell by the body language if they got it! But yes, definitely one where your tone, etc. matters a lot.

  8. danmei kid*

    As a side note when I say “Does that make sense?” it isn’t meant to be condescending and isn’t directed at the other person’s understanding. It’s because I want to check in and make sure that the way *I* explained the thing isn’t confusing or incomprehensible. I find it interesting that some people understand this use of “does that make sense” as a person checking in on their own clarity of communication vs people who think “does that make sense” is some sort of commentary on their own intellectual capability to grasp the concept being explained rather than the person asking if their explanation was clear. “Does that make sense” is a very common way of checking in to make sure everyone is on the same page, I doubt many people use it as a passive aggressive way to insult their co-workers’ intelligence.

    1. The Original K.*

      I’m with you – when I say it, I genuinely mean “am I speaking clearly/articulating this well?”

    2. PinkCandyfloss*

      Yes! When I say this it is because I want to know if I was understandable, not at all meaning to imply that the listeners are incapable of understanding.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I say it A LOT, usually on phone calls where I cannot see people’s faces to tell if they are perplexed. Otherwise I find people don’t speak up when I do not, in fact, make sense, because they either don’t want to bother me or assume it made sense to everyone else.

      My guess is people being mad about it is mostly just people being mad because zoom meetings kind of super suck. I think like 90% of my pet peeves actually boil down to “VIDEO CALLS AUGH”

    4. I edit everything*

      Yeah, same. It’s literally, “Did I explain that clearly, because sometimes the words work in my head, but you don’t hear them the same way?” or “Are we connecting on what needs done?”

    5. Reality Check*

      Same here! Just making sure I explained it clearly. Not meant to be condescending at all. (and now I’m worried someone might take it that way)

    6. Keyboard Cowboy*

      Yeah, I came here to say this too. I’m prone to ramble, and to make jumps of logic without remembering to explain them out loud, so I rely pretty heavily on that phrase to tell whether I’m being understood. It didn’t occur to me that it could come off as condescending! Thanks, now I’ll have something to keep my mind occupied at 2am tonight.

    7. Pine Tree*

      I used to say “does that make sense?” in the way that you mean – I really don’t know if I’m making sense sometimes, or if my way of thinking about something is nonsense or could actually work. I had someone tell me that it could be seen as condescending in a “are you smart enough to understand what I’m saying?” sort of way. Although I think that’s kind of an overly sensitive interpretation of “does that make sense” I now try to say “am I making any sense?”

      It’s hard to balance that and also trying to not be the demure female that says “I think….” too much instead of “We should….” like my male colleagues.

      People’s interpretations and misreadings of communication is really difficult to navigate for me sometimes. I also used to say “don’t have the capacity” in the sense of that I, or another person, don’t have time for something. I recently was told that people might see that as “don’t have the ability” when I really, really didn’t mean that. UGH

    8. LW1234567890*

      As the LW, I can say that this specific coworker has been very demeaning and often bullying, often in ways that specifically disregard my expertise, to the point that I’m hoping to leave this job soon. (And yes, my direct supervisor, her boss, and HR all know, agree, And refuse to do anything about it.) So the nasal, repetitive “Does that make sense?” may kind of be a Bitch Eating Crackers thing, but it’s also pretty clearly meant to be condescending in this case.

    9. gsa*

      I think the timing of “Does that make sense?” is very important. Depending on what’s being explained, I may need some time to process it so please don’t ask me that question 5 seconds after you finish your explanation.

      1. tessa*

        Oh, THIS! Plus – I don’t mind the question, but I really cringe when people ask it every 5 seconds, like it’s filler for lack of thought. I attended a workshop a few years ago in which the speaker would ask “Does that make sense” after. every. single. sentence.

    10. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

      I used to say ‘does that make sense’ in the exact same way; after I read that many people took it as being condescending, I’ve been more careful in my word choice. So I might say “Did that answer your question” or “Any questions or concerns about this?”

  9. L-squared*

    While Alison’s suggestion is “nice” way to bring it up, it would annoy me, and I’m not typically a “bristler”. Everyone has different sayings, and if someone, who knew exactly what I meant, tried to get me to stop, I’d be annoyed and tell her all the stuff she says that annoys me.

    Just ignore it and keep going. OP sounds like she just looks for reasons to dislike people. Like was the part about the guys voice REALLY necessary?

    1. KN*

      Yeah, there’s some jargon I use but can be self-deprecating about, but if someone tried to convince me that a word I perceived as pretty normal was “jargon,” I’d be self-conscious and annoyed. And honestly, “touch-base” (especially if used as a verb… maybe less so as a noun) doesn’t seem hugely jargon-y to me.

      I don’t know if OP looks for reasons to dislike people in general, but it definitely sounds like they dislike this person, and that’s probably coloring their perspective of this particular term.

      FWIW, the piece of jargon that’s made me cringe the most was a client who called all steps to be taken after a meeting “do-steps.” As in, “Okay, it’s great that we’re aligned, but we need to figure out what each of our do-steps are.” It boggled me. But I kept it to myself, because language is just whatever we make of it, and it’s not like the term I wanted to use (“action items”) was objectively better. It was just what I expected to hear; their term was what they expected to hear.

    2. Rose*

      Agreed. If someone is phrasing things in a way that is legitimately confusing, like calling a huge problem with a client project an “opportunity” that’s one thing. If people at work start reaching out just to let me know that the perfectly clear language I’m using isn’t their preference that person is going to go on my “step on a Lego” list real fast.

    3. Adultier Adult*

      I agree- Seems super rude- You aren’t the word police for her. She isn’t being unkind- it’s just annoying to you- that’s on you

    4. Nonny Moose*

      Yeahhh I’m not a huge bristler but this would make me feel super singled out and self conscious when speaking to the LW. I’ve had old coworkers that “joked” with me over a turn of phrase I used when requesting time off before and it’s really not fun. Even if you do have a good relationship with this coworker I’d avoid nitpicking their speech – it comes off as a bit of a personal attack.

    5. Pirouette*

      Agreed. I’m also someone who is hard to offend, but I’d be taken aback if my coworker tried to ask me not to use a relatively normal phrase and would think that they are … well, a lot of work. If someone says a phrase that’s not your favorite, that is a “you problem” — you just have to move on with your life.

    6. STG*

      Yea, this would easily move the OP into the ‘try not to talk to them’ bucket of coworkers. I would find this pretty off-putting.

    7. AllY'all*

      I agree, it would annoy me too. Business jargon is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, but the only time I’ve ever seriously considered bringing it up with someone was when we had a contractor who used such dense jargon that no one could understand what she was saying, and I didn’t even bring it up then. If the jargon is ridiculous but the communication is still comprehensible, I just think unflattering things about the speaker for the whole meeting and possibly make fun of them to my cat later.

    1. Yikes*

      My toddler loves to play a game where we chase each other around the house. He calls it “fetch.” And I always think to myself, “Gretchen! Fetch is happening!”

  10. whistle*

    If you find yourself being irate over someone’s word choice, you are the person with the problem. There is no acceptable way to tell someone to stop using inoffensive easy-to-understand words.

    1. Callie*

      Yeah, sorry. This is how language works. “Plain language” may be best for communicating in writing in formal settings but it’s not something you should instruct your co-worker speaking colloquially to use when everyone understands and it’s not offensive or mean language.

      I get it, none of us want to be corporate drones, many of us pride ourselves on our language usage. You’re still being a jerk when you police other people over it.

    2. sarah*

      Agreed. Being mildly annoyed isn’t a fatal condition and it’s not appropriate to expect other people to change their vocabulary so you never have to experience it

      1. Rose*

        This is brilliant. I’m going to embroider “being mildly annoyed isn’t a fatal condition” on a dozen pillows and start handing them out to my family members.

    3. LTR FTW*

      This is my team!

      It’s work. People say stuff in ways you wouldn’t. It’s not appropriate for you to try get colleagues to change their phrasing.

      Jargon can be annoying but it’s… what people do at work. Let it go.

    4. Blythe*

      I absolutely agree. For whatever weird reason, I LOATHE when foods are abbreviated (mac and cheese, PBJ, etc). That is definitely a ME problem, not for anyone else to have to adapt to… but oh, I sympathize with the LW!

    5. sundae funday*

      Yeah, I’m annoyed constantly at work (and my life in general, lol) by stupid stuff. The difference is, I realize it’s my issue and remind myself of the positive things about my coworkers and move on with life.

      And the person in the OP doesn’t even seem like he uses jargon that much… Literally just “touch base.” Tbh I think the LW just dislikes him to the point where everything he does is annoying, but policing others’ language is never the answer (unless they’re being legitimately offensive, of course).

  11. not owen wilson*

    You sound kind of mean. If you regard your coworker as “a fool” for using a phrase you dislike, I guarantee your contempt for her comes out in other ways at work. I think you should stop focusing on an innocuous phrase and do some self reflection, because at least in this post you sound like someone who is very invested in finding reasons to look down on others. Like…. how hard is it to say to your coworker “hey, this is a total personal quirk, but the phrase touch base is super grating to me. Can we just call them meetings from here on?” Instead you characterize her as less intelligent and almost inferior than you. Apologies for being harsh, OP, but I really need to get across that this is not something to carry resentment about and the fact that you have for so long says everything about you and nothing about your coworker.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yeah I don’t want to be unkind to a letter writer but “fool”, “unusually nasal voice”, “shut your pie hole” … this is all really harsh and I think it might be worth taking a step back and thinking about how angry this all sounds.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I read it as the LW joking. Given what I think is the high likelihood of that, I’m going to ask that we not derail on this point and consider it already called out. Thank you.

      2. Does this make sense?*

        Reading this letter, I got nervous that someone was writing in to complain about me! I worry I have a nasal voice and I do say things like “Does that make sense?” Luckily, I don’t really say touch base, so it’s probably not me!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Interesting, can I ask your age and general region? I’ve never heard it used that way.

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          To me (English) it means “spent some money & won’t get it back”, but with the implication that if things were fair (or generally if things were otherwise), you would have got it back. So for example, “I bought this thing off eBay and it’s faulty, but they’ll only refund the cost and not the postage”. Then I’d be “out of pocket” by the amount of the postage.

          1. UKDancer*

            I’m in the UK and that’s how I’d interpret it exactly the same way as Jennifer@unchartedworlds.

            1. TechWorker*

              Ooh thanks! I was struggling to remember where I’d heard it used and.. yep it’s this meaning.

          2. nona*

            Eh, I’d say I’m “out” the money because I’m not getting reimbursed when I would have expected to. It’s about an unmet expectation.

            I paid for it “out of pocket” because I spent *my* money and not someone else’s. This is about whose money I have spent on something. In the context of insurance, I was never expecting to get reimbursed for things I paid for “out of pocket”. That’s just money I need to spend before I hit the threshold before insurance kicks in.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Yea. Local vernacular, “out of pocket” means you paid for it and weren’t reimbursed.

      To mix posts,

      I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, out of pocket, so I wouldn’t have to drive home in 10′ of drifting snow.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That seems different to me then what this comment says. That’s “out of my own money” as opposed to “I am broke”, though one could certainly lead to the other.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          My agreement was that it had nothing to do with being beyond communication… I guess I should have been more clear in that agreement.

      2. Shiba Dad*

        I’m 53 and live in the US (Mid-Atlantic). This is the only way I’ve heard/seen it used. Generally in regard to health insurance.

    3. Isobel*

      Yes, that’s the only meaning I’ve ever come across. As in “going on that trip would leave me out of pocket, so I’m going to give it a miss”.

    4. KM*

      When I first started hearing this phrase it was being used to mean working remotely. Like “I’ll be out of pocket on Wednesday so text me if something comes up.” Like I’ll be working only via my phone which I will take OUT OF [my] POCKET to use. Multiple people at the organization used it this way and it always felt like such an awkward phrasing to me. And caused me some confusion when I left of a different company that used it to mean “completely unavailable”.

    5. Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk*

      To me, other than the obvious literal meaning (paying one’s own money for something that could potentially be reimbursed), it’s a synonym for acting up or out of line.

    6. CL*

      The Washington Post had an article last month on Gen Z slang and used this as an example of generational language gaps.

      1. Rara Avis*

        Yeah, it appears all over our annual information guide from insurance — “out of pocket Maximum”, etc.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, to me it’s an insurance term.

        To be fair, I learned British English as a kid, and switched to US English when I first went online. I have a fairly large vocabulary, and I find languages fascinating, so I usually learn both versions when there are differences. But here my understanding is definitely closer to the British version, in the sense that I always associate that expression with having to pay for something myself.

  12. Blue Cat of Castleton*

    My coworkers and I had a running tally of jargon our boss liked to use.

    For a while she was into “wheelhouse”. “It’s not my wheelhouse!” or ” This is totally in your wheelhouse!” Then she learned how to use pivot tables, so was constantly going “Let me throw this into a pivot” or “I’ll pivot the data” We would laugh amongst ourselves and send GIFs of Ross yelling “Pivot!” to each other over Teams.

    It’s fun when you can laugh at the silly jargon instead of letting it irk you.

    1. danmei kid*

      My boss’s favorite was “in the weeds” when he was really busy. I always pictured him in a safari hat chopping his way through the jungle and just nodded along with my own private amusement.

      1. Does this make sense?*

        That may come from the restaurant/retail industry. When I worked in a restaurant, “in the weeds” meant I’m really busy/drowning in work/need help.

        1. L*

          Ohhh. I didn’t know that, but it makes the title of Tom Vitale’s book about working with the late Anthony Bourdain much sadder. Thank you for explaining; I thought it meant more like, “exploring off the beaten path” as Bourdain made a point of celebrating local culture wherever he visited.

          1. Does this make sense?*

            It probably means both! I think “in the weeds” can also mean going deep into a topic, so that may apply as well.

      2. Laika*

        Language really is contagious! I said “let’s not get too deep into the weeds here” while writing a report last week and my boss has said it in almost every conversation I’ve had with him since hehe

  13. Single Parent Barbie*

    Was on a team with someone who every single time they went out on PTO, they would email and let us know they would be out “sharpening their saw”

    I had thoughts on how that sharp saw should be used

    1. NotRealAnonforThis*

      My small humans were taught this as a mental self-care habit in elementary school. As my introduction to this phrase was via kindergarten, I’d probably be a little dumbstruck at use in a corporate-world email. (I’d understand what was meant though)

    2. Specialized Skillets*

      It’s from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People!

      It does come across as really self-important though. Just say you’re out of office (or out of pocket… jk :p).

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I read an interesting article a while ago about things native English speakers say that are confusing to ESL speakers (e.g. idioms, slang and sports references) and realized I use so, so much confusing language.

  14. FashionablyEvil*

    I have accepted that I have lost the battle against “impactful,” but I am still prepared to die on the hill that is “planful.”

    1. devtoo*

      omg noooooo “planful.” The hill I’d probably die on is any word that’s a dehumanizing euphemism for people or workers. Like I had a boss who called people “resources,” as in “we’re trying to get another QA resource on this team,” which drove me nuts

      1. AnonyMissAnthropic*

        I work in HR, and last year our whole Employee Experience division got renamed to…

        Human Capital.

        It absolutely makes my skin crawl.

        1. Barb*

          Of course HR stands for Human Resources which kinda means the same thing.
          What was wrong with Personnel?

          1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

            Not modern enough. We have a Human Capital Branch, sounds warm and fuzzy doesn’t it?

        2. MigraineMonth*

          Honestly, “Employee Experience” seems weird too. And that’s from someone who specializes in “UX design”.

        3. New Jack Karyn*

          I’ve seen it used in the macro sense, as in talking about the resources a country has. Oil reserves, developed infrastructure, X% of adult population has high school-equivalent education, etc.

      2. TechWorker*

        I mean I don’t call people ‘resource’ as a noun but I definitely often use it to mean the same thing (‘project x isn’t resourced’ rather than ‘we don’t have enough people’). Clearly this one does get used at my company because it doesn’t stand out to me as that bad haha

      3. just some guy*

        Charles Stross’s “Laundry Archives” (secret UK government agency fights eldritch horrors when not fighting paperclip audits, their US counterparts, or their own bureaucracy) has some fun with the creepiness of “Human Resources”.

    2. The Original K.*

      I’ve never heard of “planful” (and neither has my phone, apparently). What does it even mean?!

    3. Lacey*

      That’s a new one to me. I don’t know what it means, but it sounds like the right hill to die on.

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      Planful is usually used as a synonym for “intentional,” as in, “We need to be planful about how we approach the new staffing system.” It is. The. Worst.

      1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

        I laughed out loud at “planful.”

        Usually corporate speak seems designed to be overly pompous but “planful” is like a child making up a word.

    5. Olivia*

      I’ve never heard of planful before. Merriam-Webster provides examples of it in a sentence but it still sounds weird to me.

      It reminds me of another buzzword story, though. My friend worked for the American office of a large French company. He would regularly be having video meetings with people in France. He said that some of the French colleagues said “planification” sometimes and that struck him as funny. To him, it seemed like it was kind of a buzzword for them. My friend doesn’t speak French but I do, and I found this interesting from a linguistic standpoint because if there was an English word that ended in -tion and I had never looked up the French word for it but suddenly wanted to use it French conversation, I would probably just pronounce the same word the French way and assume it was probably right. At least 90% of the time you’d be correct to assume it was a word in the other language, though it wouldn’t necessarily have the same meaning (but often would). “Planification” is just French for “planning” and yeah it sounds funny in English, but as someone who, like the original speaker, knows both languages, I was just like, “Yeah, solid linguistic choice, I would do that too.”

    6. Hanani*

      “Impactful” still makes me grit my teeth, and I refuse to use it, so I’m right there with you. I do sometimes have to remind myself (inside my own head) that language is descriptive not prescriptive.

      “Planful” is new, and I dislike it, and I hope I never encounter it in the wild.

    7. Miss Muffet*

      Our colleagues in India often say “please do the needful” and it drives me nuts, but I let it go, because ESL. I know I’m not perfect in my second language either!

      1. Jessica*

        My Indian coworkers also say this! But I find it charming. Whereas “impactful” and “planful” make me want to pull my ears off.

        It was also an Indian coworker who first told me to PFA something. After a while I noticed the accompanying document and figured out that it stood for Please Find Attached.

        The email correspondent who seemed to think I would know what BLUF meant was also amusing. I think this is military jargon; it stands for Bottom Line Up Front.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          I’ve heard “do the needful” mostly from Indian customer service agents, usually as “I will do the needful to resolve this problem with your order.” Seems like a useful turn of phrase to summarize doing whatever behind the scenes steps need to be done.

      2. Fruitloop*

        I’ve seen needful used in some old English novels. E.g. in Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff instructs Nelly to “…go up now and then to get her what is needful.” It seems to have fallen out of use in most English speaking countries, but hung on in Indian English.

        The Guardian had an article with some great examples of Indianisms a few years back: https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/04/indian-english-phrases-indianisms-english-americanisms-vocabulary

      3. Wintermute*

        it’s an IT rite of passage the first time you’re asked by offshore to “please do the needful”.

      4. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Just have to point out that many (many!) Indian folks are not ESL speakers, they are native English speakers, it’s just not American English. (And it’s not really British English either. It’s Indian English.) I had a co-worker once who spoke English and 2 or 3 Indian languages, and who was married to a woman who spoke English and 2 or 3 *different* Indian languages. They spoke English at home together.

    8. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      I will never ever say impactful. Sounds like something unpleasant going on in the bowels.

      1. TechWorker*

        Weird, impactful is totally standard in my industry (Eg ‘how impactful is the upgrade’ to mean ‘will it affect service’), I don’t really see it as jargon at all!

        1. Wintermute*

          exactly, to me this is useful, because we measure on the urgency/impact/priority scale.

          Impact is important to know: is this affecting a few people, or a lot of people? is it impacting customers or only employees? How many systems will a change affect? things like that are critical to know, and there’s no other good word for it.

    9. SarahKay*

      I will join you on that hill!
      Also, I give serious thanks that this is the first time I’ve encountered “planful” and seriously hope that I never encounter it again.

    10. CharlieBrown*

      I agree. It’s such a meaningless word. I mean, everything has an impact; it’s just that most impacts are very small. And is this impact good or bad?

      Say what you mean, I guess.

    1. workswitholdstuff*

      It’s when it’s not actual *bespoke* that gets me. I have to resist the temptation to quote Inigo Montaya at them (not that quote, the other one!)

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        Nah, I’d use that quote, not the other one.

        “Prepare to die!” (I’m joking y’all, AND quoting The Princess Bride!!!!)

        1. workswitholdstuff*

          *tips hat*

          Honestly, there’s generally a Princess Bride quote for most occasions!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        It does mean that, but unfortunately it has been way over-used in advertising (especially in the UK), by companies wanting to sound fancy. “Bespoke IT solutions” is one example that I’ve seen. Whenever I see it nowadays, I just think that their services must be as unoriginal as their adjectives.

        1. Angela Zeigler*

          But… That still sounds right? I say this as someone with knowledge of sewing and tailoring. Is essentially the same: A company has a service they provide to clients, but instead of selling their usual package of offerings (perhaps with some minor changes), they’re creating a custom solution plan from the ground up based on the client’s needs from the start.

          A bespoke suit is drafted from scratch based on a client’s measurements, which is then constructed, fitted (often several times), and modified extensively until it’s a perfect fit. In contrast, A standard suit might start from existing patterns, sewn, and then altered until it mostly fits the client.

          1. hellohello*

            Yeah, a bespoke IT solutions seems like a correct and meaningful use of the word, if you’re using it to say “we will create an IT setup that is designed to meet your specific needs, rather than giving you one that has been created with a generic company in mind.”

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              It makes sense in that phrase, but “bespoke X” is such an advertising cliche at this point that it’s pretty off-putting, at least to me.

            2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

              Except in the US, where we never used bespoke before it became a fad, we would often sell “tailored IT solutions”. So we got an exotic synonym of the word we were already using, with no additional nuance.

              1. AllY'all*

                You might not have used “bespoke” in IT, but it’s not rare in the US. It just usually applies to tailoring. The idea that it’s “exotic” is really strange to me because I’ve been hearing it all my life.

      2. Clisby*

        That’s exactly what it means to me. I hadn’t realized until this thread that it meant anything outside of clothes, shoes, and the like.

      3. Charlotte Lucas*

        Even more specifically, it means a suit of clothes custom made for you from cloth that was also custom made for you & kept by you tailor.

    2. ThatGirl*

      bespoke is a pretty old word, actually. It used to refer to custom-made suits and clothes. but it’s been used more recently by companies trying to seem fancy.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        I like it used in the context of custom-made suits, clothes, furniture etc.

        It’s often not used that way, but just as a way of saying its ‘fancy’ not utilitarian – and that’s the usage that makes me wince.

        I’ll get over it (like the overuse of ‘curate’ and ‘curated’ – which used to have a much more specific meaning, linked to museums & galleries, and now is very widely used!)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          “Artisanal” falls into this category of being used willy billy by silly businesses.

          I saw a sign for “Artisan Dentistry.” No, thank you!

          1. bratschegirl*

            I would immediately assume that an “artisan dentist” was using all those old timey tools you see in historical museums, and the techniques that go with them, and run screaming in the opposite direction.

          2. SarahKay*

            I read your comment and said “Oh, nooooo” in a horrified voice, while also clapping my hand over my mouth to protect my teeth from Artisan Dentistry. Because no! Just… NO!

        2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

          As a retired museum-ish person, the overuse and misuse of “curate” really makes me want to scream. No, you do not curate your toilet paper supply, you massively pretentious twit.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I’m now imagining a Toilet Paper museum with lovingly restored samples of historical TP.

          2. Lizard*

            Ugh, I’m with you on curate… seems like its use is slowly dying down, but not fast enough!

    3. Myrin*

      I thought I’d only ever encountered this in the meme sense (as in “broke: [opinion]; woke: [different opinion]; bespoke: [yet a different opinion]” where I assume it was added mostly because it rhymes with the other two) but now that I looked it up (I’m not a native English speaker) and realised it’s a British fashion term, I’m remembering several puzzling instances where I have indeed encountered it elsewhere and just couldn’t figure out what it means. :’D

    4. Clisby*

      Like … in clothes? It’s been around for as long as I can remember, although for some reason I think of it as more of a UK than US term. Does it now mean something else?

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Sort-of. It’s being (mis)used a lot to indicate that something is a bit fancy – but not custom

        which is *really* annoying, given that bespoke *is* custom made is used properly. Like suits (it is a *really common and old term in tailoring* bespoke suits were a thing – and a signifier of quality/money – which is probably why people started misusing the phrase)

        1. My Cabbages!*

          There’s a line in a song where someone is bragging about the fancy clothes he wears: “Before he speaks his suit bespoke.”

          Always kinda cracked up at that one, but I enjoy a clever pun.

  15. Wendy Darling*

    The one that always killed me was when I worked in a hybrid office and we’d be in an in-person meeting and someone would say “Let’s discuss that offline” to mean “let’s discuss that not in this meeting” but actually the best way to discuss it outside that meeting was in fact ONLINE, ON A VIDEO CALL and I just hrnghdasgfvmnb

    I’m not mad enough to try to stop anyone doing it but I am baffled that no one else saw the massive contradiction there.

    1. Roland*

      I don’t think people don’t *see* the contradiction, it’s just not really a big deal because the medium of conversation isn’t the important part. It’s a fast way to convey “let’s discuss this between the two of us later instead of taking up everyone’s time at this meeting”. I use it even though I know the meeting will still be an online zoom meeting, because it quickly and clearly gets the point across.

      1. wordswords*

        I mean, to me “later” gets the point across quickly and clearly, whereas “offline” gets the point across in a confusingly contradictory way that I would find distracting every time if folks in my office used it. But that’s the nature of a lot of jargon like this; it’s bewildering and unnecessary if you don’t hear or use it a lot, and just efficient communication if your office or industry uses it all the time. So I’m not saying you’re wrong or anything like that, just being struck anew by how office-dependent all of this is.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I mean, plenty of things are super contradictory when you take them literally. But for some reason this is just the one that derails my personal brain. (That and when people say ‘ATM machine’, but ‘PIN number’ bothers me not at all, go figure.)

        I try not to language peeve, though, so other than one time when I explained at happy hour why that phrase does my head in I leave it alone.

        1. Roland*

          Yeah I totally get that language hits us in different ways, and that pet peeves aren’t necessarily logical. I def have my own similar ones.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Yeah I definitely misuse “offline” to mean “outside of this particular platform” – same as how I use “on paper” for a document that will never be printed out – it’s just a gap in the language.

        1. Somehow_I_Manage*

          Etymologically speaking, your use of “offline” is as an antonym to “inline” (rather than online [the internet]). While it’s not yet defined in the standard dictionary this way, it’s very commonly used this way in technical fields and you could find it in an engineering dictionary. Think of assembly lines, ponds, trains, circuits, etc.

          “Taking it offline,” in this context means removing it from the group- and your use of it in this way is logical, and reasonable!

    2. talos*

      This one was incredibly confusing to me for a long time before I figured out that it meant “off THIS line” rather than “in person”.

  16. I edit everything*

    I use “touch base” a lot, I suspect, but not as a synonym for “meeting.” I always took it to mean a quick status check, worthy only of a phone call/text/email. For example: “Hey, did you make that dentist appointment yet? It’s not on the calendar.”

    And to me, “out of pocket” will be when I’m out money I shouldn’t be. “I’ll pay for this out of pocket and get it reimbursed later.” I haven’t been wrong all this time, have I?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Nope that’s correct. That’s how insurance companies use out of pocket, you can use it for expenses you’re covering yourself in other contexts as well.

    2. lost academic*

      You are right and so are others. Phrases evolve. From context it’ll be clear which is which.

    3. KM*

      Touch base as a verb doesn’t grate quite as much as when used as a noun. I will touch base with you this afternoon about this project but please don’t invite me to a touchbase. We can just have a meeting instead.

      1. I edit everything*

        I have never heard it used as a noun before. That’s a new one to me. Gotta say, I love the freelance life. I don’t have to worry about this stuff, and the only one annoying me is myself and the occasional pet.

      2. Lady_Lessa*

        I like your distinctions because I think of touching base as a verb-noun combo.

        One of my big pet peeves is “Advisement”

    4. sundae funday*

      Exactly! “Meeting” and “touch base” have entirely different meanings. If I’m in a meeting, my calendar is blocked off, someone is taking notes, there might be an agenda, and there are multiple people involved. “Touch base” is much more informal.

      I don’t think I use it all that often, but now this letter has made me super self-conscious and maybe all my coworkers secretly hate me because I use words that annoy them.

  17. devtoo*

    I used to have a mostly harmless but over-the-top boss who constantly mixed metaphors/corporate jargon and would say things like “we really led the monkey into the woods on that one.” It was my first office job and I thought it was hilarious.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      See I love when people mix metaphors because it always leads to really cool, new, complicated metaphors! Like with leading monkeys into the woods — not only did you not give people a clear roadmap, you also unleashed an invasive species into the ecosystem likely to cause chaos because they were never supposed to be there and now don’t know how to leave! Get those monkeys a map so they can get back to the rainforest!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I say “We’ll burn that bridge when we come to it” and no one can convince me to stop.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I mean, as a cleaner version of “We really screwed the pooch on that one,” you could do a whole lot worse!

    3. Lexi Vipond*

      You have just inspired me to my roughly annual viewing (listening?) of Mitch Benn’s ‘Devil and a Hard Place’ :)

  18. Mockingjay*

    As a tech writer, my work life is FILLED with jargon and acronyms and prepositional phrases (because it sounds more ‘official’ I guess?).

    – Utilize. It’s USE in the context of this report, people!
    – In accordance with. All you Feds and Contractors know and loathe this one. I once found a Navy style guide from the 1970s that tried to ban that phrase.
    – Gerunds, when a noun-ing already exists. Because that ‘ing’ just adds pizazz.
    – “Over.” Recently during teleconferences and Teams meetings, people inexplicably started saying “Over” to indicate they’ve finished talking. It’s weird because we had many calls previously and people just – stopped talking. Worked fine. *shrugs

    I could go on, but I have four more reports today that I have to turn into plain, comprehensible language.

      1. sundae funday*

        I remember as a teenager thinking “I need to utilize your facilities” when I needed to use the bathroom was peak humor.

    1. ZSD*

      I’ve only run into the “over” habit when having group calls with DOD people, who I assumed carried this over from old walkie-talkie speak. I actually find it useful on audio-only calls when you’re sometimes worried that you’re about to cut someone off.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I swear I am the only manager in my division who actually knows that “use” and “utilize” do not actually mean the same thing.

    3. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

      Yes! While I realize there is a grammatically correct way to use the word utilize, 99 times out of 100 that is not how it’s being used. I have been on a lifelong journey trying to get people to use the word use instead because it’s shorter and simpler and doesn’t sound like you’re trying to be snooty. Far too few people have listened to me about it. Grr.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Decades ago, I decreed that the downfall of civilization started with The Gerunding of American Speech.

    5. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      Old fed here. Sometimes, we would shorten in accordance with to IAW. But, language simplification initiative have eroded it’s use. I just say “per” instead.

      I do use standby though. One word,easy to understand. I like that one.

    6. New Jack Karyn*

      My goddaughter has taken to saying/texting ‘Copy’ when receiving an instruction or relevant bit of information. I attribute it to her training as a wilderness first responder.

    7. Princess Scrivener*

      YOU ARE MY PEOPLE! I have an editing rule to change EVERY “utilize” occurrence to “use.” Such a useless waste of 4 characters, plus the sound of it out loud… it’s my pet peeve version of others’ “moist.”

  19. lost academic*

    I’m in a field that has a TON of jargon, really double the regular amount since it’s a combination of business and governmental stuff. But it’s a shared language and understanding and that’s why it gets adopted and repeated. There are a handful of terms I dislike but everyone knows exactly what they mean and the nuance associated. That’s why we adopt them and use them a lot. It’ll keep happening and I see it as a useful shared lexicon, even more important with our remote teams (same pre and post pandemic). Creating a problem by directly delaying demonstrating your understanding or pushing back on something that’s honestly harmless and quite frankly helpful is a good way to blow political capital and disrupt the team. Quit it.

    1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      Not everybody knows though. Acronyms that become jargon are the worst. They should always be explained or a key available.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        There are acronyms that my team uses that have been around so long that everyone knows what they mean but no one actually knows what the letters stand for.

        1. LawBee*

          At one of my old jobs, we had to run a TAMER report every month. I thought it meant something. It did not. TAMER stood for Tom And Mike’s Excellent Report because those dudes created it for their own use and when it was co-opted by everyone else, they named it after themselves. :D

      2. Lost academic*

        In my field they are well defined and readily found in context. And knowing them is part of the job.

    2. WellRed*

      My coworkers (who now call themselves team) have begun “PTOing”, rather than taking a day off. Drives me nuts.

  20. NeonFireworks*

    I went to a meeting once five or six years ago that was nothing but this kind of language. After listening earnestly for 15 minutes, I realized that I hadn’t actually heard anything I could really make sense of. I spent the rest of the meeting dutifully writing down the keywords, but it was so that I could laugh later.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      This is my experience at every professional job I’ve had. Jot down the acronyms, ask someone what they mean later.

  21. TechWorker*

    Going to take this opportunity to share my favourite bit of jargon – ‘hard stop’.

    Usage: ‘I can attend this meeting but I have a hard stop at the end of the half hour’.

    SOOOO much better than ‘I’ll come but I’ll need to leave exactly on time because….’ and covers everything from ‘I have a medical appt’ to ‘if I don’t finish I’ll have to skip lunch’ to ‘I am done with this week and going to the pub’.
    If anytime dislikes it, I don’t care :p

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Agree. It’s very clearly setting a boundary in few words. We don’t have enough language that does that.

    2. The Original K.*

      Love “hard stop” for this reason. People tend to respect it more than any other way of saying “I will no longer be a part of this interaction after x:00.”

    3. Lacey*

      Yes. It sounds so very firm and unbreakable. People don’t question it if you say you have a “hard stop”.

      1. Emi*

        I agree, and also saying it makes it easier for me to hold that boundary 55 minutes later. Like it gives me the nerve to just say “Well, I have a hard stop so email me the rest of your questions!” and hang up.

    4. This Old House*

      Oh I have one coworker who makes every meeting take twice as long as it should/could/is scheduled for. After the first time or two I met with her, I created a hard stop at the end of every one. Love the hard stop!

      (If you hate the “overuse” of “hard stop,” consider your own habits, perhaps . . . )

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      I also like this. Someone once accidentally used “full stop,” & we asked if they were sending an old time telegram.

    6. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      Hard stop isn’t so bad because it’s not trying to be pretentious. It is what it is.

    7. Your local password resetter*

      Thats actually a great example of good jargon! I’ts short has a clear and intuitive meaning, and can not be easily replaced by more common language.

  22. Shiv Roy*

    My administrator in charge of my department insists on calling us “staffulty” when “staff” is perfectly fine. Says it’s inclusive but I would like to hit her over the head with the portmanteau.

    1. hebrides*

      So are staffulty entitled to faculty benefits? Because that’s usually not the case, and if they’re being “inclusive…”

    2. linger*

      It does suggest “stafficulty” (for staffing problems) could be a useful addition to your workplace.

  23. Olivia*

    I thought it was funny that the NPR article mentioned “filmed before a live studio audience” in talking about words and phrases that had appeared on the list in the past (apparently this had the honor of being on the list twice, in 1987 and 1990). When I was a kid and seemingly all the shows said that, I assumed–and still today have been assuming–that it was a legal requirement. It seemed so perfunctory, like the list of side effects at the end of drug commercials.

    I was surprised that “irregardless” was on this year’s list, because it seems like people have been mentioning that forever–it’s not a particularly current one. I also don’t hear people say it very often. I’m more annoyed by “I could care less”, which I hear a lot more.

    But yeah I doubt you can get someone you have a work relationship with to stop saying something like that.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      It never occurred to me that saying ‘filmed before a live studio audience’ might be a legal requirement! I just thought it was to differentiate from sitcoms that used a laugh track. My guess is that they used the phrase during the transition period from when all shows were filmed before an audience, and now, when very few scripted shows are?

    1. LW1234567890*

      Yeah, but the person is also a bully whose effect on my career in the long term would be negative, so this is more of a straw breaking the camel’s back, but yeah, you’re not wrong.

      1. Viette*

        And that’s the BEC of the thing. The person is a B, and now you’re furious about the EC, when in fact eating crackers is hardly the problem.

        Getting the guy to stop using jargon wouldn’t make you like him much more than you do now, because you strongly dislike him for other reasons, aka he’s a bully who can damage your career.

          1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

            Maybe it’s worth writing another letter to Allison about the bullying?

            I wonder if you’re noticing in these comments the wildly different opinions about certain bits of jargon – and indeed about whether those phrases even are jargon.

            Basically it’s very subjective. What grinds one person’s teeth is just a normal, handy turn of phrase to someone else.

            Good luck with your bully of a boss.

  24. Bexy Bexerson*

    I understand and appreciate that language evolves, but I hate most business jargon, and I especially loathe “touch base”. It should never be used as a noun. I’ll die on that hill.

  25. TomatoSoup*

    “Out of orbit” sounds funny but also descriptive. I would absolutely use this.

    I had a boss who loved corporate jargon to make our non-profit sound “more professional”. In addition to being annoying, it was often out of date too. Especially the word synergy, which this group “banned” in 2002. She was continuing to insist on using that word in our materials (including grant proposals) as of a few years ago.

    1. TomatoSoup*

      Although, looking through more of it I found myself rolling my eyes frequently because a number of the words they included were people’s personal issues. Like the person who doesn’t like the word “signage” because it makes them think of sinus drainage. Or the guy who wanted to replace “neonatal unit” (in a hospital) with the word “nursery” because he clearly has no idea what either of those places actually do. He also complained that his favorite nursery rhyme isn’t popular anymore.

      I get that the whole thing is tongue in cheek, but just posting random people’s personal preferences undermines the humor.

  26. Nea*

    Whenever I see someone talking about jargon, I always think of the Big Finish Doctor Who adventure (no, I don’t remember which one) where the baddie spoke 100% corporate speak. In the end she pleads for her life with “But I’ve onboarded many key learnings from this exciting business opportunity!”

    The rest of the story was pretty “meh” but I worked with someone who talked like that, so it made me laugh like a hyena.

    1. Grammar Goddess*

      The use of “learning” as a noun, especially in the plural form “learnings,” makes me want to reach through my computer, grab the speaker by the lapels, and yell “LESSONS. LEARNED.” until they capitulate. If I never hear it again it’ll be too soon.

      I want to start using “out of orbit” though…

      1. Dennis Feinstein*

        Yes yes 1000 times yes!
        I’m an English teacher & accept that English is always evolving, words & phrases fall in & out of fashion etc.
        BUT I hate when a perfectly good word eg lessons gets replaced with nonsense like learnings.

        I also really really really hate stakeholders. It’s like nails on a blackboard.

  27. Out of Orbit*

    “Out of pocket” is also used in healthcare/insurance for the amount of money (not part of the deductible of course) that you will owe after insurance pays for care. Or medications. I’ve never heard it used otherwise. I would be SO confused if someone told me they were out-of-pocket. Not sure I’d ever guess it meant “unavailable.” If anything, I’d guess the opposite. Your out of pocket cost is generally required to be available at the time of service. Language is so fun!

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I know that context of “out of pocket” from AAM but I’d over here the common meaning is, left with less money. Eg “but I got the frog grooming kits engraved – if Wakeen leaves before his is issued, it’ll be useless and we’ll be left out of pocket.”
      Never head the other use though either!

  28. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    Not over or annoyed or angered by, but burning out on circle back, which I think has been mentioned above, loop in, and oddly enough I’m starting to make a wrinkly face at reach/reaching out. If you’re my age you start singing that commercial jingle when someone says that. I won’t start it because it’ll be in your head all day.

    I wouldn’t let it get me to a level of putting a list of banned phrases in the breakroom, though. Sometimes it’s just quick and easy language to use that keeps the day going. At the end of the day we’re all on the same page.

    Sorry.

    1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

      I like reach out, because it can be by any mode of communication. Kind of warm also.

      1. AllY'all*

        To me it comes across as very fake-warm. You’re just getting hold of me to ask me something, you’re not extending sympathy or having a heart-to-heart talk or asking me to come to dinner. It feels like someone thought the word “contact” was too mean or something.

        1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

          To each their own. I prefer it to contact. Don’t think I would use the term reach out just to ask for something though. For that matter, all business niceties are fake warm, “good morning” “have a good day”, all of it.

  29. KatEnigma*

    Dear LW: There are likely 40 things you do or say that drive your co-workers insane. Take deep breaths and move on.

    1. PsychNurse*

      Yesssss. If I nicely point out that I am annoyed when my coworker says “circle back”— he is going to reply with a list of annoying things *I* do, and I don’t need to hear that list!

  30. kzkz*

    I feel like I’m pretty easy-going and if someone brought this up with me, I’d think they were pretty silly. I mean, I would probably stop using that phrase with them, but I wouldn’t have a positive impression from the interaction.

    Language changes. There’s nothing holy about the old words. No reason why “reach out” is better or worse than “contact”, and in fact if you were an alien, you wouldn’t know which came first. Sure, I think “thought shower” is totally silly when we already have “brainstorm”, but really, I would think “brainstorm” was pretty dumb if I heard it for the first time today.

    And sometimes jargon is a useful shorthand– for instance, I find “hard stop” (which many list as jargon) to be a useful concept that is easily understood. It’s better than having to say “I have an appointment I can’t miss at 3pm so we really need to be done by then” every time, I can just say “I have a hard stop at 3pm”.

    Just my two cents! (Is that jargon? Probably! :) )

    1. Angela Zeigler*

      I’m the same way. It seems counterintuitive for people to complain about jargon just because it’s used a lot or they find it annoying- a lot of times, those words convey subtle different things, and are part of office communication. And as long as it’s not actually causing confusion or misunderstandings, than it’s just part of communicating. I’d rather someone be overly accurate than vague, because ‘vague’ can mean time wasted on more questions back and forth, delays while they’re trying to get confirmation, or work being done incorrectly.

      In a world where texting abbreviations exist, words are substituted for emojis, and people don’t write in actual sentences, I’m not going to complain if someone uses the phrase ‘home run’ to describe a successful team project, haha.

      1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

        That’s the problem with jargon though, often it communicates little to nothing.

    2. Lalaith*

      I know someone who seems to be using “two cents” to mean “hat tip” on Facebook (as in “.02 to X person” when he posts a meme or article or something). It’s… confusing.

  31. TotesMaGoats*

    Synergy. I HATE this word. I had a boss who used it all the time and it makes my eye twitch. My brain immediately goes to Jem and the Holograms cartoon from the 80’s. I do find myself saying that I don’t have the “bandwidth” for a new project. My husband and I were talking about how our son (9) uses the word glitch to mean broken. We are watching language change which is pretty neat.

    1. Clisby*

      Before I retired, when I was a computer programmer who sometimes sat in on vendor presentations to evaluate what we needed, my co-workers had a running joke that if anyone mentioned “synergy” and “parameters” in the same presentation they went to the bottom of the list and had to fight their way back up.

    2. CPinHI*

      I caught myself using the word synergy completely seriously in a meeting. I immediately called myself out–I was so disappointed in me.

    3. My Cabbages!*

      But “synergy” is a term that means something that can’t be easily explained otherwise (two effects that when added together make a stronger effect than the two individual effects added together).

      I can see getting frustrated when used to just mean “works well together” but sometimes the term is totally appropriate.

      1. talos*

        A division of a company I used to work for had an initiative for combining two previously separate products that was discussed internally as “1+1=3”, and the amount of mixed metaphors that came out of that phrase made me wish my director would just say “synergy” instead.

      2. Wintermute*

        exactly! and synergy is not *necessarily* a positive thing!

        Synergistic effects in medicine can result in dangerous situations, for instance they took the sedative Doriden off the market because of its massive synergistic effect with codeine (it stimulated the liver enzyme that converts codeine to morphine). Similarly you need to be careful with postoperative antiemetics because first-gen antihistamines used for controlling nausea are often synergistic with pain medication and can depress breathing. But sometimes synergy *is* a good thing, they use that very same interaction in promethazine-containing cough syrups to reduce the amount of narcotic required.

    4. Wintermute*

      I thought I was the only one who remembered that cartoon! I got nothing but crickets when we were having trouble at work with a system called JEM, and I said that the issue was “outrageous. truly, truly, truly outrageous.”

      1. Sarah in Boston*

        Well you just got a literal LOL from a fellow Jem remembered over here in Massachusetts.

  32. Marna Nightingale*

    Ok I need to cut down on my use of “Does that make sense?” because what I MEAN is “Have I explained this coherently and not left any major bits out?” but that’s apparently not what I’m saying.

    1. Lacey*

      That’s what lots of people mean by it. But then there’s a whole other set of people who are offended by it, so it causes some problems.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Yeah, some people seem to interpret it as implying that they’re not smart/skilled. I just want to know if we’re clear or if I need to explain in a different way.

      2. Loch Lomond*

        I mentioned this above, but honestly I think the problem lies with the set of people who are offended by this, not with the people who say it.

        It’s like a milder version of how it’s a red flag when someone won’t stop talking about other people “disrespecting” them, in contexts where that doesn’t make sense.

        1. Marna Nightingale*

          True. But I can probably switch to “Am I making sense?” without great pain so eh.

          1. Former Admin*

            That’s what I’ve been switching to. It puts the onus on me to express myself clearly, not on the listener to make a correct interpretation.

        2. AllY'all*

          I say it a lot, and it occurs to me that I usually say it when I’m explaining something very technical and I’m not sure I’ve hit the target vocabulary for a lay audience. No one has ever seemed to react badly to it, but I also know that a lot of people – even people who are experts in one technical area – get defensive and hostile when someone is talking about complicated issues in another technical area and has to simplify explanations. It’s as if not being spoken to as a fellow expert in the field – for literally any given value of field – aggravates whatever sense of insecurity they were battling when faced with unfamiliar material in the first place.

          So if someone is in that headspace anyway, I can see “Does that make sense” feeling like it adds insult to injury – but it’s still a “them” issue, not an issue with the person trying to make sure they’re understood.

    2. Angela Zeigler*

      Same here, although I usually use it at the end of a long and complex explanation about something, usually to new trainees, so I figured it would be clear I’m checking for clarity on my part, as well. Worst case, someone can just say ‘Yup, makes perfect sense to me!’ and that’s the end of it. Otherwise it gives opportunity for questions and preemptively helps against confusion or misunderstandings (Which is half the battle in my workplace, at least.)

      I had no idea people were taking offense from this, though.

      1. Pine Tree*

        I’ve started to say “Am I making sense?” instead of “does this make sense?” in the hope that no one is interpreting it as saying they are not smart enough to understand me (and my potentially logically challenged ramble).

    3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      I use it, too, but try my best to use non-verbal cues and tone to communicate that I’m asking if I have explained things properly. Like, if there’s an issue here, I’m going to start by assuming that I didn’t explain it well enough.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        Yeah, I smile when I say it and will even add a “I know I just shared a lot of info!” or “I know I tend towards the esoteric!” to acknowledge it’s about checking in on my ability to communicate clearly and not their ability to understand. I haven’t had any issues — at least not that anyone has made known!

    4. TomatoSoup*

      I have the same understanding of it that you do. I could see it being used differently depending on *how* it is said. There are ways to make it condescending, but its fine for normal speech.

      Even inflection can be a weird thing. I have a relative who says the word “okay” as if he’s being passive-aggressive. He genuinely just means the word “ok” and cannot hear the difference. Makes many of us frustrated when trying to discuss or plan things.

    5. nm*

      Yeah I ask “does that make sense?” a lot…it would never have occurred to me before reading this letter that it could be taken another way.

    6. Snell*

      Going by LW’s comments, it seems like the coworker is the problem, not the phrase “Does that make sense?” Go wild.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Because if I didn’t, and they don’t understand the topic to begin with, they have no idea if what I said is clear or covered everything. The person I’m asking can’t answer “was I clear”, but can answer “does that make sense”. I do like the “am I making sense” as suggested above, though.

  33. Lacey*

    I had a coworker who said “iregaurdless” all the time. It drove me crazy, but I didn’t know how he’d react to me pointing it out, so I never said anything.

    Until – one day he went on a rant about how much he hated the word. I was so surprised I just blurted out, “But you use it all the time!”

    He was shocked, but told me to mention it if I heard it again, because he didn’t want to me that person.

    1. Marna Nightingale*

      I used to work in a bilingual call centre and while I know exactly why Francophones do this AND it is more logical, “these informations” (in English) makes my teeth itch.

  34. Wallflower*

    It’s not the jargon that rankles me; it’s the misuse of words or apostrophe abuse. They can “touch base” all they want as long as it’s spelled correctly, used in context, and without punctuation errors.

  35. Doctor is In*

    Does anyone else hate “action plan”? Is that supposed to differ from an “inaction plan” (do nothing?)

    1. Green Tea*

      Are people misusing the term, or something, or do you hate the term being used correctly, too? I’ve only ever heard of an action plan as a specific document planning out workstreams for a project, with concrete next steps and assigned people to different pieces.

      An ‘inaction plan’ is as meaningless to me as an ‘unemail’ or a ‘non-shopping trip’ – it doesn’t communicate why you think the term ‘action plan’ is ridiculous any more than an ’email’ or a ‘shopping trip’.

        1. Green Tea*

          There are different types of plans though. If you ask someone to put together a ‘plan’ that is too vague if you are actually referring to a specific document that breaks out a project’s workstreams, dates, and roles.

          A plan could just be a paragraph in an email that gives a rough idea of what you’re thinking. Or it could refer to a research plan, or a communications plan, both of which have different information to include. The language is specific because the thing it is referring to is specific. Maybe you’d prefer this specific thing have a different specific name, but that those are the breaks sometimes.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      We use action deck.

      I really dislike how it’s applied. It really means “we’ll get a list of things together of what we should be doing and then never look at the list again”. And why is it always powerpoint??? why are we saving a NEW PPT every time we modify the deck? why not just keep appropriate project notes????? what do we have against excel? or project software?

      1. AllY'all*

        I once heard that the use of the word “deck” as a synonym for Powerpoint presentations is a throwback to when the same type of presentation would be made using a deck of slides. It didn’t make me love the term more, but it makes much more sense now.

  36. Holly*

    My professional pet peeve is from academia, but it’s SO annoying to me: silo. “Departments are siloed and we want to encourage interdisciplinarity” etc etc etc. OMG just say people don’t collaborate! It’s just such a dumb term to me but I am definitely in the minority haha.

    1. Roland*

      To me, “siloed” goes beyond “don’t collaborate”, it means “they are in different worlds, they don’t know or care what the other is doing”. Plus “silo” is short.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And it’s definitely moved out of academia, which apparently can no longer afford ivory towers.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh, I used this in the 90s in government contracting. Could refer to people & orgs, could also refer to incompatible IT systems.

    2. What She Said*

      Try being in a “silo” and being forced to collaborate when your work does not actually require nor need collaboration. IT IS “silo” aka solo work! I want to wipe that word from the dictionary!

      You’ve clearly found my trigger buzzword. Don’t worry I’m okay now. I’m getting some ice cream. : )

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m from the.midwest and I will always dreamily think of farms if I hear the word “silo.” On a bad day, I picture missile launches.

    4. Scarletb*

      Yeah, we hear that one a lot around my work as well. It’s all very metaphorical, I suppose, which is pretty but less helpful for concrete understanding – don’t collaborate, don’t communicate across teams, etc.

      My current pet peeve has got to be ‘span of control’, which as far as I can tell, primarily means “how many people you manage” (with some caveats around variations due to work complexity etc). In that usage, it’s both a bit dehumanising AND could stand to be more concrete. Another one that bugs would be “take a principled approach” as in our approach will be guided by underlying or core principles, which I guess is fine but it sure sounds weird in a sentence.

    5. PsychNurse*

      INTERDISCIPLINARY in the medical field too OMG. I had forgotten about it. But “we had an interdisciplinary meeting” means “the PCP talked to the psychiatrist.”

    6. talos*

      To me in industry, “siloed” has also tended to imply a certain amount of empire building and intentionality – it’s not just nobody talking to each other, it’s nobody talking to each other _because someone thinks they will benefit if nobody else knows what they’re doing_.

      1. Wintermute*

        precisely, it’s managers trying to build their own little fiefdoms in their exclusive control

  37. Just Another Zebra*

    When I worked in retail, I had a manager who referred to ANY conversation between her and an employee as a “coaching moment”. Every. Time.

    “Let’s have a coaching opportunity! Can you please fold those shirts?”

    “I want to engage in a coaching moment with you. Fergus is taking a break, go hop on the register for 30.”

    “Wow, I love the outfit you put together today! I’ll point it out to the other staff as an example. Lots of coaching moments today!”

    Rage.

    1. What She Said*

      Huh, interesting. This one is using coaching moment to teach you what not to do when you are in manager. Good lesson, boss.

  38. Angela Zeigler*

    I use the term ‘touch base’, but as a verb (“how about we touch base on this topic?”) to mean a quick meeting/ brief conversation over something, but I’ve never heard it as a full on substitute for the word ‘meeting’.

    Aside from that, though, I’m surprised how many people are taking great issue with the jargon of those around them. Sure, there’s always things coworkers do that are weird/different/annoying, but I can’t imagine analyzing someone’s sentences each day just to see if they use certain words or not. With all the terrible communication skills I’ve seen even among high level managers, I’m just glad if someone can convey something well enough for everyone to easily understand. (Reading comprehension also seems to have nosedived since Covid, it seems!)

    1. Sunshine*

      It’s funny because “let’s touch base” is quicker and easier to say than “let’s have a touch base”!

      I only get annoyed by jargon when it makes the meaning less clear. A “touch base” is different than a meeting in my mind, so I don’t mind that, but there are some jargony words that really just don’t mean anything.

  39. Zanshin*

    In the early 90s there was a Dilbert cartoon that asked (paraphrasing) “Is this a fad, or will it linger and stink like a dead woodchuck under the porch?”
    A snarky coworker and I, anytime our department head got insanely jargony – this was the era when everything was A New Paradigm! – we would make little woodchuck faces at each other across the table, holding our hands up for a moment like paws… It helped…

  40. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    I’m on team let-this-one-go OP. You can say something to this guy and hope he doesn’t get offended (I would be miffed if someone told me this) but there’s still the entire rest of the world out there. You say you want touch-base ‘out of [your] life now’ but your life is a heck of a lot more than just this co-worker. There are other co-workers , new hires, clients, contractors, family, friends, people on the radio/news etc. What are you going to do the next time one of them says touch-base? You either ask every single person you come across to not say touch-base, or you selectively ask people not to say it and still hear it, and that’s a can of worms you don’t want to open. I guarantee as soon as you ask someone to change their language for you, but let someone else say the exact same thing that first person is going to be pissed. Even if they weren’t when you originally asked.

    1. LW1234567890*

      Nah, I just like how some jargon or misused words do go away, and if I had a choice I’d lose this one. I don’t really care that much.

      Having said that, this person uses “touch-base” more than anyone I’ve ever known, and oddly, as a noun in inefficient sentences where another word would do. So they’re a bit unique. I kind of think it would ebb to barely noticeable levels absence this one person’s habit.

      Whatever.

      1. Money nerd*

        If you want to talk language police, something is unique or not unique. It cannot be “a bit unique” or “more unique.” It is a binary.

  41. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Might be an unpopular opinion, but I think you’re best off just letting this one go, since the meaning of the annoying phrase is pretty clear. I’d feel differently if it was something like “synergy,” which – as far as I know – has no consistent meaning anymore. We each have our pet peeves (mine is “deck” for a PowerPoint) and I figure it’s best to just let them slide.

    1. TomatoSoup*

      I find deck really funny because there used to be a literal deck (as in deck of cards) of slides or transparencies used to give a presentation.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I… use deck (or slide deck). I thought that was the generic term for a PowerPoint not actually created in PowerPoint – Canva, Google Slides, Prezi. What’s the right thing to call that?

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I just call it by the program it was made in. “I’ll share that Google Slide about mammals with you before class tomorrow.”

        1. talos*

          What should I call it if I’m asking for some kind of presentation material from someone else, and I don’t know/don’t care what particular medium it’s in?

    3. My Cabbages!*

      I said this above, but “synergy” absolutely does have a real meaning. It’s when two things together have a stronger effect than the sum of their individual effects.

      Like, if thing A increases your output 2x, and thing B also increases your output 2x, but if you use A and B at the same time your output increases 10x, not 4x. In a lot of fields this is a really important concept that doesn’t have a good alternative.

      But I admit it has come to be used as a meaningless buzzword in many cases.

  42. corpspeak*

    I use “touch-base” differently than “meeting” … the former for an informal quick sync and the latter is for an official meeting with an agenda. You might also want to check your own bias – nasal voice and “does that make sense?” (which is generally used to by the speaker not to be condescending, but more so to confirm that they themselves are being clear) are both common in younger female working professionals.

    Office jargon can be annoying, but do you really want to let it get to you that much?

  43. I'm not in the space for that now*

    Our director uses the word “space” and “in this space” so often in all-organization meetings that my coworkers and I have made up a drinking game around it. It’s super basic, but we take a sip of beverage (it’s only ever coffee or diet coke, don’t worry) whenever he says it.

    Last one he said it 17 times. It drives me up the wall!

    1. Shiba Dad*

      Without giving too much away, in the industry that I am in, “space” is used (more or less) in place of “room”. When talking to people outside of the industry about a particular room or rooms, I have to consciously not use the term “space”.

  44. JustAnotherKate*

    LOL! I recently heard in the same day “popcorn” as a verb meaning “to pass the (virtual) mic to the next person” and “narrative ecosystem” meaning “story” or, well, “narrative.” I don’t know if these are jargon or just random words thought up by random folks, but they did make my eyes roll so far up that I can see the ceiling tiles.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been in meetings that have used “popcorn”, I get it but it’s weird.

      I briefly had a grandboss who used SO MUCH corporate jargon, I’ve forgotten a lot of it but it was supremely annoying.

    2. Gerry Keay*

      We did popcorn reading in elementary school! I’ve also heard it come up at work, but I work at an education-related org so it makes a bit more sense with lots of former teachers on staff.

      1. talos*

        Yes, I also came from a school where popcorn reading was popular, and I think it’s likely that “popcorn” in business meetings came from this.

    3. WorkingRachel*

      Oh, God, popcorn. I hate that one, especially since that way of doing a meeting is pretty much the default anyway in all groups I’m part of.

  45. Twill*

    I have worked in office setting for decades and have seen (heard?) many of these jargon words and phrases come and go. Anyone remember when we would put a subject ‘in the parking lot’? Which just meant we would discuss it later. These words and phrases can be annoying and after a while they almost become a caricature. The one currently under my skin is the phrase ‘reach out to’ , instead of just saying contact or email or message.

    1. penny dreadful analyzer*

      I skipped right over ever hearing “parking lot” and went right to hearing people (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) use “bike rack” because bikes are more eco-friendly than cars, and now “bike rack” makes sense but I get momentarily confused when people say “parking lot.”

  46. MB*

    I’m in a field with a lot of jargon (academic, not corporate) and I also have to learn/translate the jargon of other people’s fields on a regular basis. What’s interesting to me is the way these terms might be expressing something about the nature of work these days. To me, touch base means “I need to have contact with a colleague to discuss a particular topic” but it doesn’t mean we need a 30 or 60 minute meeting. Terms like “circle back” or “put a pin in it” are ways of returning or pausing discussion about a particular idea. Often the thing these terms are referring to is some kind of discussion about a project or task that requires people to share or work through the next steps or “get on the same page.” Just like we have save icons shaped like floppy disks, we’ve also got language that on the surface is describing a physical thing/movement (drill down, move the needle) because we don’t necessarily have the right words to describe a behavior/process that can’t be seen. I don’t know, language is more cool than it is annoying.

      1. Bird of Paradise*

        I think it’s meant to be rude. At any rate, I have only ever heard it used when someone is being rude about another person–“shut their piehole,” “stuffing their piehole”

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I use it about myself, or jokingly about other people. “There I was, stuffing my cakehole Mimi’s blintzes.”

      1. LW1234567890*

        I got that one from my older brother, but yeah, I rarely say it and never in an office. This was just here for comedic purposes, which I guess didn’t work for all of you.

        I do love pie, though.

  47. ConstantlyComic*

    Maybe I’m out of the loop here, but I’ve never seen touch-base used as a noun like that. Is it not usually a verb?

    1. Emi*

      Yes, but one of the (annoying, imo) characteristics of office jargon is unusual flexibility about different parts of speech. “What is the ask?” “Let’s offline that,” “I’d like to have a touch-base,” “We’re offering a new learning,” “We’ll make sure to intention that in the go-forward,” etc etc

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        Generally part of speech flexibility is one of the things I really like about the English language (I enjoy that it’s so easy to verb a noun or noun a verb and people still understand what you’re saying), but I can see where it would get annoying in jargon. I guess it didn’t click for me because my workplace tends to refer to short touching-base meetings as O3s (short for One-On-Ones, which is grating in its own way, imo).

    2. Nonke John*

      It is usually a verb phrase, yeah, but now there are a lot of people who will say, “Got a few minutes at 2:30 for a touch-base?” A coworker of mine who uses it that way also informed us at a quarterly review meeting, “The ask was that we decrease the spend by 20%.”

      1. Librarian beyond the Shelves We Know*

        Gah, you just used two of the bits of jargons I hate the most in one sentence! :-o

    1. Interesting*

      It is and what it has meant for more than 100 years. But out of pocket has many meanings.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      I have a colleague who uses “out of pocket” for when she won’t be available. She’s amazing in every way, so I find it quaint and charming and I wonder if it’s from her small-town upbringing or what.

      If she was not a good colleague I would probably want to tear my own ears off.

  48. Nonke John*

    LW, the sort of corporate jargon that’s designed to hit the sweet spot (ha!) between authoritative and sporty drives me crazy, too, but Alison is right that your best bet is probably to find humor in it rather than letting it get to you.

    What annoys me most is “hard stop,” which always sounds to me as if the speaker were scheduled to fall down a flight of concrete stairs at the end of the meeting. (I’m not as nice a person as I wish I were, so depending on the colleague, the image isn’t always unpleasant.) I try to focus on the part that has meaning–this guy’s trying to help us get out of here on time–and shrug it off.

  49. KM*

    I think I’ve mentioned this in other comment threads, but right at the beginning of the pandemic, my department went on a months-long binge on the phrase “stand up”. The first I remember it being used was reasonable – something like “The University will stand up an emergency response committee to handle pandemic related issues.” I guess people liked the way it sounded because they started using it in place of words like: create, schedule, make, and even do!
    “We need to stand up a new process for ordering supplies”
    “Can you stand up a weekly check in meeting for our workgroup”
    “Please stand up a memo to all assistants regarding the changes”
    “We need a new letterhead design. How quickly can you stand that up.”
    I counted 6 instances of variations on “stand up” (from multiple speakers) in a one hour meeting. It eventually tapered off, but it drove me a little crazy for a while

    1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      See, that would annoy me because I’d feel genuinely confused about exactly what I was being asked to do.

  50. The Ginger Ginger*

    This may not be how your coworker is using it, but in my workplace a touch base is a TYPE of meeting, not just used in place of the word meeting. If someone needs a touch base about something with me, I immediately know it’s a less than 15 minute convo about the status of whatever thing we’re meeting about. It’s more descriptive and assumes an agenda that just a general meeting request does not.

    1. SoUnidentifiable*

      Agreed. A touch base is informal and quick and limited to follow up of the topic at hand.

    2. Lana Kane*

      Same. I dont mind it because it tells me that it’s not a Meeting, and is likely going to be short. Hopefully.

  51. Does this make sense?*

    My industry has a lot of jargon leftover from the days of telegraphs, when communications had to be short, so words and phrases would be abbreviated. I mostly find them amusing. One is “outpointing.” (Instead of “pointing this out” or “passing this along”)

  52. V. Anon*

    I work for gov’t and my agency has a pdf of over a thousand acronyms. It is painful. But the jargon that gets me is “mission-critical.” You only get to say that if you are flying a plane or infiltrating the enemy position. The only military jargon I will allow are snafu and fubar.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        Things Are Really Effed Up? That’s a new one for me! (I didn’t google, just guessed haha)

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I know it as “Totally and Royally ****** Up”, but that’s one of the alternatives…

  53. RunShaker*

    how about “low hanging fruit” to describe a quick easy win/project that improves something? A few years ago, it was brought to my attention to not use that phrase with certain women. Someone in our meeting said it. She saw it as sexual & referring to man’s genital! I’m like WTF. We all laughed uncomfortably. I’m thinking to myself I hear men & women saying it all the time. Heard phrase multiples times in last month. Still heard it a couple of years after so I guess the offended lady didn’t get any traction on getting rid of offending phrase. I too think it’s over used & thankfully haven’t heard it used in last couple of years.

    1. Emi*

      What no this literally means, like, an apple on a branch that’s close to the ground so you don’t need a ladder!

      1. Interesting*

        People seem to be trying very hard to make normal phrases with established meanings become something else.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yeah, “the secret real origin of the word/phrase” is a popular type of urban legend.

          In the days before Snopes.com, I once had a drama teacher tell me that the f-word stood for “Fornication Under Consent of the King”, (i.e. legal rape) in Australia. I probably told a dozen people before my English teacher set me straight.

    2. Bird of Paradise*

      “Low hanging fruit” is fine. “Low hanging fruit and two veg” should be avoided.

      (I’ll show myself out)

    3. Cari*

      Oh that one. It makes me physically cringe every time I hear it. Mostly because a colleague held up her hand and wriggled her fingers like she was ticking something when she said it. And I’ve never been able to shake the association.

    4. PsychNurse*

      It’s just like when people say “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” which means exactly what it means. Then somebody says “Oh that’s racist because it’s talking about a Creek (tribal) uprising.” Um, no. No it’s not.

  54. SE*

    I have a few coworkers who use TONS of corporate jargon and the one that grates on my ears is ‘socialize’ (meaning ‘communicate out to an audiences’). “I’ll socialize this plan so the other teams can raise any issues” Etc

    I hate it

    1. Nonke John*

      I’d give them “socialize,” annoying as it is, if they didn’t “evangelize” to persuade everyone the plan is good afterward.

  55. Daisy*

    At an old job, there was a director who spoke almost exclusively in corporate jargon, to the point of obscuring his actual message. It drive me insane but I wasn’t in a position to address it directly with him. So… I created a bingo game out of his catch phrases, made tiny bingo cards, and shared them with a few of my coworkers, so we could play Buzzword Bingo during meetings. The language still irritated me, but I got some fun out of it too.

    1. 30 Years in the Biz*

      I’ve done this too. Here’s a website that’s even created bingo cards. https://www.businessbuzzwordbingo.com/ My least favorite phrase has been “We need to have a conversation….” How about “We need to talk about…” or “We need to set a meeting to talk about..”

  56. Robin Ellacott*

    My colleague and I have regular meetings with managers in a branch of government, and we always laugh about the jargon phrases afterwards. If there’s a new one, we look at each other after the meeting ends and quote it and laugh. Or sometimes he deliberately repeats something really jargon-y for my enjoyment.

    The worst one for me was “socialize,” used to mean let someone know in advance. Like “we’re going to have to socialize that change to the team a few months in advance”. It just makes no sense to me to use the word that way and it drives me batty, but we did laugh especially hard after its first appearance. We’d both written it in large block letters in our notebooks. It helps make it less annoying if you are mentally making a note to giggle about it later.

    1. leeapeea*

      Reminds me of how animal shelters will “socialize” feral kittens to humans so they’re adoptable…

      1. Bird of Paradise*

        That’s pretty much what happens with socializing new ideas. It’s a good use of the word.

    2. AllY'all*

      I’ve heard it kind of used that way, but in the sense of “Get someone used to this idea in advance so by the time it’s actually implemented it’s not new anymore and they won’t make such a fuss.”

  57. Czhorat*

    As someone with admittedly quirky speech patterns I’d be the last to police anyone else’s language. I have two hard rules:

    1) Can I understand what you mean?
    2) Is your language racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive?

    If the answer is “no” to both of the above, I’m fine. If the former, I’ll ask for clarification. It’s only in the latter case that I’ll step in and say, “I know you think that’s a word for cheating someone, but it’s actually an ethnic slur”.

    Overall, I think we need to be tolerant of sylistic differences.

    1. Just Moi*

      I have to agree. As long as the meaning is understood and the phrase is inoffensive, I’m not going to call it out. I worked with a colleague who loved the word nuance and while we often struggled to find other ways to confirm the meaning, frequently nuance was the best word choice.
      But I do draw the line at “let’s open the kimono.” Holy heck, that phrase was beyond cringey.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I could ignore most jargony things, but “open the kimono” always made me throw up in my mouth a little.

    2. CTT*

      Yeah, and if the comments to this post are indicative of any being, it’s that no one can agree on what truly annoying language is and that some phrases can genuinely have different meanings. Trying to enforce rules around that seems needlessly hard.

    3. Roland*

      Amen. We can have some private moments of irritation but if people understand one another and it’s not offensive then it’s fine. (And no, “offensive to my knowledge of grammar” etc doesn’t count lol.)

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      To #2, last year, at a staff meeting, we were told that the teams in our department would soon be renamed to “tribes”, for (vague agile reasons). I was horrified and was asking around (friend groups and here in open threads) how I could help stop it. Thankfully, at a later staff meeting, the management told us, in a confused tone of voice, that “the HR said we cannot use tribes, so we’ll continue to be called teams”. Big props to our HR!

  58. Ari*

    I get excited every January because senior leadership likes to introduce new catch phrases for the year to keep things fresh. The first quarter town halls are usually filled with these gems, and within a few weeks everyone is using them. Trickle down jargon.

  59. The Other Evil HR Lady*

    “Really and truly.” I’m looking at you, mid-westerners – at least, I think it’s a mid-western thing, what do I know? It has spread in my office.

    I’m the one that says “does that make sense?,” although I don’t mean it condescendingly. I really and truly (heh!) want to make sure that whatever the heck I said actually made sense… because I hear it in my head clearly, then it comes out my mouth like Wookie-speak. Does that make sense?

    1. Alex*

      Agree, I use “does that make sense?” when I feel like I’ve rambled instead of explained what I was thinking clearly. But I think tone and context really matter with that phrase.

    2. Interesting*

      So are we here to complain about regional language patterns now, not just corporate speak?

      1. The Other Evil HR Lady*

        “It has spread in my ***OFFICE***.” I said it right there. It became a “thing” in… my office, which happens to be a corporation. And since this is a work-related blog, I’m including it, yes.

        But I guess you needed to complain about my complaint. Interesting.

  60. MountainGirl19*

    Nebulous. Worst word ever lol. It didn’t help that my ex-boss who used this over and over was a complete jerk, so I bristle whenever I hear it and it’s been years since I worked for her. Any time we asked a question, it was always, “well, it’s quite nebulous,” to skirt answering the question or give us direction. And of course, we’d get written up for not understanding the nebulous instructions. My group would say it to each other as a joke when she wasn’t around such as, “Sue, when will you be back from lunch?” “Well, that is quite nebulous” and we’d all laugh. I became a board member on a local committee later in life and the president of the board (I was secretary) and I talked about how much we both didn’t like corporate jargon and what our least favorite was. So in board meetings he used to throw in ‘nebulous’ from time to time just to see the look on my face. I’d throw back at him, “well, let’s circle back with each other offline since it is so nebulous right now, looking forward to our touch base.” Friendly banter which I did honestly enjoy – so I agree to turn it around and make it funny/amusing :)

      1. MountainGirl19*

        Lol I used to think so but she was such a cartoon level villain that the word has been ruined for me. She used that word in pretty much every meeting. Her ongoing antics and the three years of hell for me – that is a whole different post. Sadly, many co-workers of mine didn’t survive (meaning lost their careers and pensions – I was lucky to get out when I did). Some rainy day I will write in about it :)

  61. Emi*

    To me the funniest is “go around the horn” to mean that everyone on a call gets to talk. I think it’s a mashup of “horn” for telephone with the idea of going around the table in a real-life meeting, but it always makes me think about sailing around Cape Horn to go hunt for whales or fight the French Navy.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I think it’s from baseball, where one might say that when the third baseman fields a ground ball, throws it to second, where it is then thrown to first. That’s called ‘going around the horn’ and often results in a nifty 5-4-3.

      1. Wintermute*

        that phrase, itself, though is taken from the fact sailing ships rounded the Horn of Africa to complete a trip to Asia.

          1. Emi (not a bear expert)*

            Just to clarify, I do know the ball is the item that actually travels; I was wondering who/what is the idiomatic subject of the sentence “_____ went around the horn.”

  62. Rinn*

    This is the best thing I have read all year. ;-) But seriously, a hilarious letter and a totally awesome response.

  63. Alex*

    Ugh my boss is a jargon lover. In her context, I think that she uses it as a way to sound relevant, as she generally struggles with her job and no one respects her (they think she doesn’t know what she is doing). I think she thinks that if she uses jargon she will sound like she knows what she is talking about.

    It doesn’t work, so I’ve chosen to find it comical.

  64. Interesting*

    Corporate jargon just becomes normal language. And touch base for a quick informal meeting is pretty standard. If this is what qualifies as “corporate jargon” for you, you must not work in a very corporate environment. But, hey, that’s a bigger topic. Let’s not try to boil the ocean here.

    1. Lana Kane*

      My workplace has a Wiki for all the acronyms and terms commonly used. For me touch-base is nothing!

  65. Hack attack*

    I work for a PR/communications agency that’s within a larger holding company. They’ve taken to calling the companies and offerings a “platform.” I’ve noticed it in my industry for other companies, and it’s perplexing and meaningless to me. Seems like another way to confuse my family about what exactly it is I do for a living…

  66. Daughter of Denial*

    The phrase which really gets me is “open the kimono” which is sexist, racist, and any other “ist” you can think of. I had a manger who used that term at least once per meeting, and accompanied it with a leer, or smirk, as if daring anyone to object.

    1. It's a Language not a Museum*

      Blech. Yeah, see, this is an example of one where retiring the phrase and correcting folks on it makes sense. Even if you alter it to different clothing, it creates a mental image that, if it were a real image, wouldn’t be work appropriate if you googled it on a company computer. No, I will not go open robe, or drop-trousers, or anything else with you all in this meeting, thanks. LOL

    2. SoUnidentifiable*

      I was in a meeting with a bosses boss recently where he said this. I then pretty immediately emailed and set a meeting with him to tell him it was not cool. He took it well. I was terrified. I can only imagine earlier in my career I would have just tolerated it and seethed forever.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Oooh, this one is the WORST. I had a colleague who used it and I nearly keeled over. And then I googled for it and one of the top hits was Jamie Dimon (the head of JPMorgan Chase) using it. I was floored.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I think it means to be transparent (about processes or what-have-you), but it’s definitely an ick and Daughter of Denial is dead on.

      2. Wintermute*

        it’s a (as other people have mentioned, insanely, baldly racist, not to mention misogynistic) term for when you get to see a company’s full financials, usually prior to a merger or acquisition. That’s the original meaning anyway, the original metaphor was for being allowed to perform a detailed inspection of what you’re buying only after you have made some level of commitment to a deal, but reserving the right to cancel if you don’t like what you see upon a deep inspection.

  67. OlympiasEpiriot*

    I have to say, using out of pocket to mean unavailable has me totally confused. I’ve been hearing it lately and I don’t get it. For me (56 y.o., white, NE, urban, wide variety of coworkers) it has hitherto only meant:
    1) (adj.) an expense I need to submit for reimbursement, and
    2) (adj.) someone or something egregious, ridiculous, uncalled for, or otherwise inappropriate.

    WHEN AND AMONG WHOM DID THIS BECOME “UNAVAILABLE”??

    :p

    1. Interesting*

      I first heard it used by college classmates in 1996, so I don’t think it’s new or particularly corporate. Maybe it’s been coopted by corporate people?

    2. Two Dog Night*

      Oh, interesting. I’m 57, midwest, and I’ve only ever heard it as meaning unavailable (mostly in the 90s, I think), or the expense thing. TIL it also means inappropriate.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        To be clear, it is usually said “that’s outta pocket!” or “no, no, no, he’s completely outta pocket”

        Not generally said at meetings. Definitely a drawing-a-line statement.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’m a little older. I’ve recognized both the “unavailable” and “expenditure” usages all my life. The meaning has always been clear from the context.

      “Inappropriate” is a new definition for me, though. I can see potential for misunderstanding with that definition thrown into the mix.

    4. WorkingRachel*

      I think I might have heard this more in the UK than among Americans? I’ve known the phrase for a long time with this meaning.

  68. Avery*

    Is it weird that I unironically like “out of orbit” a lot more than “out of pocket”?
    Out of pocket: sounds like we’re talking about expenses rather than availability, doesn’t fit when considered literally, just kinda boring
    Out of orbit: makes sense when taken literally (no longer in range of the project/work), sounds like something out of science fiction

    1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      Yes “out of orbit” is kinda poetic. Much too descriptive and beautiful for corporate jargon haha.

  69. pcake*

    As a musician, “out of pocket” can mean not playing in time with the band, where “in the pocket” means everyone is playing exactly in time with each other.

    1. Cat Herder*

      “Evangelism” in the context of Product Marketing. And almost any jargon used in Agile. I’ve found Agile the product management concept to be very helpful, but the jargon …. do we really need to call meetings “celebrations”?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m pretty sure “Agile” is a neologism that was started to mask the word “wrong” and people got carried away with it. In the 22nd century, we’re going to look back on “Agile” as the greatest practical joke ever played.

        1. Wintermute*

          done properly, IN THE PROPER CONTEXT agile development works if you commit to it. The problem is many companies have deeply entrenched power structures they can’t root out or have people who are so entrenched in their jobs they can’t be made to go along with doing things the new way.the end result being a bastard combination of agile and waterfall development I like to call “agile fall”: when you try to be agile, but instead you fall down.

          It also requires the proper context. Your brand new silicon valley startup “Guacr” where you can call someone to your house to make guacamole any time of day or night is a good candidate for Agile and fail early/fail fast development where you don’t spend a lot of time chasing unprofitable ideas. An insurance company is not. A medical company ABSOLUTELY is not. Waterfall is not a dirty word, it has its place and context when getting it right the first time is more important than being first to market.

      2. Bird of Paradise*

        Agile is more jargon than content anyway. It’s mostly a bunch of buzzwords that people who are bad at project management can use to cover their incompetence.

      1. Wintermute*

        in context I think it can be a great word! Think about like the context of debate, communication analysis, marketing, or heck even therapy– a short sentence can absolutely drip with implicit value judgements, meanings, assumptions and motivated definitions. To intelligently discuss what was just said you need to, well, unpack, each of those implicit statements into a expressed statement that can then be evaluated.

        1. Just Anothet Tired US Fed*

          I prefer the use the word analyze to accomplish what you describe here. Not unpacking anything.

  70. SaffyTaffy*

    LOVE Alison’s suggestion of subtly reframing/reforming the phrase if possible. When my father started referring to everything as “un… be… LIEV-able” I would quietly say, “eh, I can believe it.”

    Maybe “tooch bah-zey” or “don’t touch my base, thanks,” or something?

  71. Interesting*

    Out of pocket used to mean unavailable goes back to a 1908 O. Henry story. This is not corporate jargon. This usage became popular in the 70s and it was youthful slang, not corporate speak.

    1. linger*

      Specifically, in the story “Buried Treasure”, from the collection Options.

      “She is meant for higher things,” repeated Goodloe Banks.
      “Whatever she is meant for”, I answered, “just now she is out of pocket.”

      O. Henry almost always used “pocket” in a very literal sense, and “out of pocket” similarly, e.g. “pay you … out of my very own pocket”. So it is surprising to find it used here extended to a person being “unavailable for contact”. The woman in question, May Martha Mangum is missing, so “unavailable for contact” is certainly a possible interpretation. However, in the wider context of the story, the narrator and his interlocutor Goodloe are competing to acquire the affections of the woman in question, which could put the interpretation rather closer to the literal meaning, i.e. “neither of us has her yet”. The narrator’s anti-intellectual stance, and the location of the conversation in the back room of a saloon, further suggests a pool-table pocket as a possible reference.

      1. linger*

        N.B. The story does not pause to consider May’s point of view at all: her character is not developed, and she is presented merely as an object of desire for the protagonist and antagonist. Even before she disappears, there is no direct communication! So applying the modern interpretation of “out of communication” seems revisionist.

      2. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Yes, I would agree with this interpretation. Out-of-pocket here looks like “still in play”, not sunk in a pool table pocket and, therefore, not a point to one side or the other. IE: Not yet possessed.

        That is absolutely NOT equivalent to “unavailable for a meeting”.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I feel like quite a lot of the examples here in this thread are… pretty normal things to say.

      I think most of these are less of a “jargon” problem, and more just that pretty much any phrase becomes annoying if you know someone who overuses it.

      I’m listening to a podcast right now, and one of the hosts has for some reason started saying “the [X] of it all” kind of an obscene amount. And like maybe 2-3 of the times she has said it was in a way that makes sense and the rest are really odd uses of it and now it seems to have become almost filler speech for her, it’s wild to me. It’s a totally normal phrase but now it is suddenly a pet peeve for me just because I’ve heard it so many times in the last couple of weeks lol.

  72. It's a Language not a Museum*

    I’m a little put off at the mention of the colleagues overly-nasal voice. I understand we think LW is joking, but that’s… a rude way to joke about someone.

    Anyway, I would want to be corrected (privately) if I were using a turn of phrase incorrectly, but somebody trying to language police me over my general word choice would definitely make me bristly if it’s just because they prefer other words. Or think other words are less “overused” or whatever.

    Communication patterns evolve, and individuals have their own preferred voice when using language to express themselves.

    Much of the linked list also sounds overly fussy in reasons given. Like yes, “completely empty” is redundant. But the use of this redundancy can help add an extra layer of need to the described emptiness — it isn’t just a factually empty glass, it’s an empty glass that I was hoping would have some left. Or, it was completely empty — bone dry, not even a drop of condensation remaining.

    Or “Not everything is the greatest of all time. It’s impossible to say if something is or isn’t!” GOAT isn’t even part of my personal vocabulary, but I can tell that it isn’t meant to be entirely literal every time it is used.

    We don’t need to purify the English language to the point that it is bland, coldly efficient, and devoid of individual character. While one might argue that word overuse makes the language bland (sure! using “awesome” 6 times in a row definitely sounds off), I would argue that demanding strict adherence to usage rules makes the language both bland and overly restrictive.

    My advice would be… if the phrase is being used incorrectly, then definitely privately point this out. If it’s correct, but actively confusing for some reason (like… I guess if the word was GOAT but you also worked on a goat farm), it would be worth pointing this out as well. Otherwise… eh, I’d leave it alone and try to sort out why I feel so bothered by it.

    1. not owen wilson*

      I’m not going to pile on per Alison’s request, but my read of this letter was the same as yours. I don’t think that’s how you should talk about your coworkers in any setting — I’d be mortified if any of my coworkers called me a fool for any reason, even as a joke. It just reads as so mean to me, especially when OP seems to be the one with the problem based on the info in this letter.

  73. hebrides*

    I heard a phrase that does not have inappropriate connotations too many times and me and my (very close) work friends ended up mutating it for enough situations that it became very inappropriate and now I can’t hear it without desperately choking back laughter.

  74. Varthema*

    I’m a former business English teacher/professional and forever armchair linguist, so please allow me to nerd out!

    One of the most interesting things I learned while writing a paper on synonymity is that there’s no such thing as a perfect synonym, except in cases of regional terms for the same concrete thing, like aubergine and eggplant. Language is used for efficiency and efficacy that doesn’t allow for waste. Two words may be very similar, but when you “drill down” (hello neologism) you find that they tend to differ in nuance in SOME way. Lots of people here have already pointed out that a touch-base is indeed distinct from a meeting – a type of meeting perhaps, or not a meeting at all. I’d argue that most of the time, “reach out” has a more tentative subtext than “contact” – “contact” sounds like it’ll be a straightforward, predictable interaction, whereas “reach out” sounds more tentative – maybe it’s the first contact in a long time or ever, maybe it’s someone I’m going to need a favor from, maybe I’m not sure they’ll respond. Or my least favorite neologism ever, “ask” as a noun – I hate it, but I have to confess that it does serve a unique niche, not quite a question or query or request or demand but some combination of those.

    So like them or hate them, they usually represent the fulfillment of some linguistic need. Which is probably why business generates more neologisms than anyone but teenagers, because the needs of businesses today are very different from the needs of businesses 30 years ago.

    And which is also why (referring to the NPR article) I find it a bit rich that the ivory tower is judging corporate neologisms. It’s not like academia is famous for favoring clear and concise communication.

    Caveat: still not sure where “thought shower” fits in, as it really does sound like another version of brainstorm, so I imagine one or the other will die out soon.

    1. GrooveBat*

      Thank you for this! I’ve been struggling to articulate this very point of view, and you summed it up perfectly.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, thanks, I’m also an armchair linguist. I can see why some neologisms can be useful, and I don’t automatically dislike all of them. That said, I’m allergic to toxic positivity, so positive euphemisms for negative things will annoy me every time, like requiring people to say opportunity instead of problem.

  75. Spicy Tuna*

    Out of pocket
    Circle back
    “Noodle on” something
    At the end of the day
    Peel back the onion
    Voice track

    I could go on and on with the irritating jargon

        1. Spicy Tuna*

          When preparing a presentation, sometimes it is requested to leave an item out of the printed materials so the presenter can “voice track” it; ie, just speak to it instead of using up a whole slide to discuss said item

  76. TypityTypeType*

    At my favorite job ever — a now long-defunct trade magazine — there was a sort of news-and-gossip column that everybody in our part of the industry wanted to appear in. It was an instant Coolness Pass, and people constantly called to pitch items to the writers.

    The writers, finding themselves so much in demand, therefore enforced certain rules, one of which was to instantly hang up on any source who used the words “next level.” When 1999 came around, they also started hanging up at “for the new millennium.”

    Such was their power that nearly everyone took it in good part.

  77. Purely Allegorical*

    I definitely thought, until this moment, that Out of Pocket meant “I am away from the office/my computer and will only have access to my smartphone, which is in my pocket. So I am only available for ‘pocket’-level things–ie, a quick email or text if something is going dramatically wrong.”

    Baffled to learn otherwise. I liked my way of using the phrase. (And I’m early 30’s).

  78. Safety Noah*

    Putting my plug for Weird Al in here – as soon as I hear someone talking in too much business jargon, I get his song Mission Statement in my head. It’s catchy as heck, and defuses any irritation I have because I just end up thinking about how ridiculous it is… Won’t put the link here because it’ll get screened, but some sample lyrics…

    We must all efficiently
    Operationalize our strategies
    Invest in world-class technology
    And leverage our core competencies
    In order to holistically administrate
    Exceptional synergy
    We’ll set a brand trajectory
    Using management’s philosophy
    Advance our market share vis-à-vis
    Our proven methodology

    1. AnonInCanada*

      You said it! Any time I hear someone say such useless corporate nonsense, that song instantly pops into my head. And there’s nothing wrong with that, either. The irony of a bunch of corporate nonsense sung to Crosby Stills and Nash is pure sinister genius!

    2. tangerineRose*

      I like that song, but sometimes some of the words are what I’ve heard in meetings at work, which doesn’t feel so great.

  79. 867-5309*

    I am going to start thinking of “I’m out of pocket” as meaning someone is usually in pocket (e.g., they shrink and mostly live inside someone’s pocket).

  80. Mrs. Badcrumble*

    I’ve got nothing productive to add, just wanted to whinge — I was recently on a working group (…yeah) where they kept using “ask” as a noun, as in: “Our ask for you on this topic is this blah-de-blooh”. I haaaaate it. Hate.

    Also there’s a great Piled Higher and Deeper webcomic that talks about the aggravation around “utilize” vs. “use”, with the punchline, “Eh. You’ll get utilized to it.”

    1. Not Australian*

      Ugh, I had a uni English professor use this to me as a variant of ‘assignment’. I wanted to throw things at her.

  81. Qwerty*

    At a former workplace some colleagues would say “(go) fish” when they didn’t know the answer to a question.
    “Where is X?”
    “Fish.”
    It didn’t happen very often but it did amuse me to hear such a nonsensical reply.

      1. Qwerty*

        It doesn’t even make sense if you know the game because “(go) fish” in that context means “I don’t have it.” and they used it to mean “I have no idea.” I have no idea why they began saying that but people caught the meaning quickly.

    1. Ozzie*

      I would be incapable of hiding the utter disbelief my face would show if someone responded this way to me.

      1. Qwerty*

        That might have been part of the fun? They would usually follow up with more of an answer like “X might be in the Y”, or “Z was using X last I saw it.”

        1. Ozzie*

          Ok with a follow up then that’s very good for the reaction, tho I could see it getting tiresome if too common, haha

          1. Qwerty*

            Thinking back on it they might have used the expression as a thinking pause before giving a real answer. Though sometimes that was still just “I don’t know. Try asking another person.”

          2. Qwerty*

            I don’t remember it happening very often, once/twice every few months maybe? If it was daily/weekly it would probably start to annoy me.

  82. Starfleet HVAC Engineering*

    “Utilize”

    I want to strangle people who say that. Did you utilize your car key to utilize your car to drive to work. Did you utilize a razor to shave? No. It’s a fake word used by people who think more syllables = more smart or more technical.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      In my line of work, utilize usually connotes use outside of the normal spectrum of uses for something. You use a shovel to dig, but you’ve utilized it to hammer tent stakes.

  83. Tech Worker*

    I haven’t read the comments yet to know if this was already stated, but my absolute least favorie is “I want to double click on that” as a way of saying “let’s talk about that more”. UGH DIEEEEEEEEEEEE (Yes, I am in tech, how did you know?)

      1. AnonyAnony*

        Don’t think it’s really new. Not in tech but I first heard it back in 2009 or 2010. Yeah kind of like “take a deeper dive,” or “Let’s expand on that.” Haven’t heard it being used as much lately though.

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      This is a good one, don’t think I saw it above. Sadly, this is not just in tech, LOL. I’ve heard this from accountants in other industries.

  84. Ozzie*

    My boss really likes to use “level up” and I just… can’t stand it. As someone who has played games their whole life, and who had to hide that fact for a good portion of it too, it is REALLY disconcerting to me. It’s inoffensive, but SO annoying to me! I refuse to mirror it. Absolutely, positively refuse.

  85. Elsewhere1010*

    Does anyone remember the 90’s and playing Buzzword Bingo during meetings? In our office the free square in the middle of the card was “paradigm”.