The New Grad’s Guide to Annoying Business Buzzwords

The New Grad’s Guide to Annoying Business Buzzwords

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Congratulations – you’ve just landed your first real job! Time to stock up on Dockers and fill out your 401(k) paperwork – you’re about to wave goodbye to your youth and enter the land of the grown-ups (it’s terrifying, I know!)

If you’ve already started your job, you may have noticed something a little odd. No, we’re not talking about your boss’ penchant for talking in third-person or the fact that the receptionist eats all of the office candy – we’re talking about their (and everyone else’s) use of strange business lingo. You know, those phrases your colleagues drop in meetings – the ones that you scramble to Google before anyone notices that you’re completely clueless.

If you’re feeling a little lost, relax! We’re about to loop you in. Here are the top 10 most commonly-used phrases – and what these annoying business buzzwords actually mean.

1. Bleeding edge

Context: “This new app we’ve created is bleeding edge.”
What you think it means: Your company has just created some sort of sadistic app that cuts people and causes them to bleed.
What it really means: “We think this new app is so amazing, the term ‘cutting edge’ won’t even do it justice. It BLEEDS innovation.”

2Disrupt / Disruptive

Context: “Our goal is to make a disruptive program that’s really going to disrupt our industry!”
What you think it means: Your boss is planning on crashing an industry event in order to make a big scene.
What it really means: “We want to create something so innovative that our entire industry will fall to their knees and beg for mercy because we’ve just DISRUPTED everything! KA-BOOM!”

3. Robust

Context: “I’m expecting some robust results.”
What you think it means: Your boss is really craving a strong cup of coffee and is asking you to go brew some… in an extremely round-about way.
What it really means: “I’m looking for solid results… but ‘robust’ just sounds way cooler.”

4. Take offline

Context: “Let’s take this conversation offline.”
What you think it means: Your colleague is planning to take his phone off the hook because he’s sick of answering client calls… and you’re wondering if you can get away with doing the same.
What it really means: “We don’t want to discuss this in front of Becky because she dominates the conversation.” – or-  “I really don’t want to waste time talking about this, so let’s just pretend that we plan on discussing it later.”

5. Looping in

Context: “I’m looping in Jennifer.”
What you think it means: Your boss secretly fancies himself to be a cowboy and wants to practice his lassoing skills on poor Jennifer.
What it really means: “I’ve just CC’d Jennifer on this email chain, but the term ‘CC’d’ just doesn’t sound as cool.”

6. Hard stop

Context: “I have a hard stop at 4pm.”
What you think it means: Your client is playing some sort of strange new intramural sport at 4pm.
What it really means: “I want this phone call to end at 4pm… because otherwise, you guys will blather on for hours.”

7. Out of pocket

Context: “I’ll be out of pocket for the rest of the week.”
What you think it means: Your coworker just ran out of cash and he’s going to have an empty wallet until Friday payday.
What it really means: “I’m going on vacation so don’t contact me. I will pretend that I left my iPhone sitting in a drawer at home, when in reality I’ll be compulsively checking my work email every hour and my wife will get mad at me for it.”

8. Low hanging fruit

Context: “I think we should go after the low-hanging fruit.”
What you think it means: We’re going to an apple orchard to pick some apples… yay field trips!
What it really means: “Let’s procrastinate and go after some easy targets. We’ll save the hard stuff for someone else to tackle.”

9. Bandwidth

Context: “Do you have the bandwidth to handle this report?”
What you think it means: “Why is Bob asking me if my internet is working well… doesn’t he realize we’re all on the same WIFI connection?!”
What it really means: “I’m asking if you’ll do this report… and I’m asking you in the most passive way possible.”

10. All hands on deck

Context: “This Friday night, cancel your plans and plan on being at the office – it’s going to be all hands on deck!”
What you think it means: “Oooh – a card game! This is going to be fun. What should I wear?! I wonder if that hot guy from the finance department will be there…”
What it really means: You’re going to spend your Sunday night sobbing as you look at everyone’s fun pictures on Facebook… because you canceled all of your plans and spent your entire weekend working.


Feeling a little lost? Fear not, young professional – as you make your way through your career, you’ll develop a laundry list of nonsensical buzzwords that will make you grit your teeth – and soon enough, you’ll begin using them as well! Speaking of which, check out this sweet Business Buzzword Generator – use this, and you’ll be moving up the corporate ladder in no time!

What business buzzwords do you love to hate? Tell us in the comments below!

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