127 Top Business Jargon Examples [And How to Fix Them]

Top Business Jardon and Gobbledygook Examples


Skilled business writing rejects jargon. Yet, industry-specific phrases and buzzwords are very commonly used. Even the best writers can fall into the jargon trap if they’re not careful.

Fortunately, by using the right perspective, you can be revise jargon out of your text or avoid it in the first place. 

This article will highlight the perspective that is needed to easily identify confusing jargon. To start you off on your jargon hunt, we’ve also prepared our list of the top 127 jargon and gobbledygook examples in business writing.


Why Does Jargon Exist?

Sadly, the primary reason business writers use too much jargon is everyone else is using it. We learn to write by modeling others. Business writing is notorious for jargon. There is even a book that addresses this problem, Why Business People Sound like Idiots.

Meaningless jargon has become so commonplace that the writer does not perceive the term as jargon. Instead the writer incorrectly sees jargon as an insider-term or in-the-know business dialect. However, this writing ignores the most crucial factor in business writing: the audience.

Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp and author of Rework, stated, “Jargon is insecurity.” Instead of using strong, clear, words that accurately reflect concepts, we lapse into vague corporate speak by parroting beaten-to-death jargon.

To help combat jargon in professional writing we created the Jargon Grader. It’s a simple app that helps you identify and eliminate jargon in your writing. Just paste your text into the application and review the flagged words. Try the Jargon Grader for free [click here].



The Essential Perspective

Jargon is defined as language that is not well understood outside of a specified group. Therefore, useful language for one group could be total jargon to another group.

The only way to know if a term is jargon or not is to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How well does your reader understand the document topic? An executive in your company is likely familiar with company-wide acronyms. Conversely, a client might be confused by the same acronym.

Jargon or gobbledygook phrases must be revised or placed in context that makes the idea accessible to the reader. This may mean fully writing out acronyms, explaining terminology or modifying the content to better orient the reader.

Overused colloquial phrases, such as “at the end of day,” weaken your message. A phrase like this is so beaten to death that it no longer has any resonant meaning. 



The “But It Sounds Nice” Trap

Business writing has a clear purpose. It is generally meant to inform or persuade.

It’s tempting to use impressive-sounding language to persuade the reader of your personal competence in the subject area. It seems like an easy way to demonstrate your knowledge. Plus, you’re including the latest industry terms, which shows what your company knows is on trend. Doesn’t it sound nice?

However, this tactic will often leave the reader confused or ill-informed. Jargon is easy to skim past. Buzz terms are so overused that they have lost real meaning.

A good writer proves their subject area expertise by being able to communicate it to any audience. Audience comprehension of a complex topic is the best proof of your knowledge.

Try our Jargon Grader

 

The Top 127 Jargon and Gobbledygook Examples

  1. 110% - Isn’t that just bad math? Exaggeration brings questions to your other numbers.
  2. Actionable
  3. Agile - Are you using the Agile methodology? If not, you’re using a buzzword.
  4. A-ha moment
  5. All-hands meeting
  6. ASAP - But, when? Specific dates and times create action.
  7. At this point in time - Simplicity is bliss. Try: At this point or Now
  8. Authentic
  9. Back of the envelope - Try: initial estimate or rough calculation
  10. Balls in the air
  11. Bandwidth - Try: capacity or time
  12. Bang for the buck - Easy to promise, but what does it really mean?
  13. Banner year
  14. Beat the bushes
  15. Beef up - Try: reinforce or intensify
  16. Best in class
  17. Best practices
  18. Big bang for the buck
  19. Bleeding edge
  20. Boil the ocean
  21. Boondoggle - Using a cute word for a mistake won’t make the explanation easier.
  22. Boots on the ground
  23. Brain dump
  24. Bring to the table
  25. Buck the trend
  26. Build capacity
  27. Buzzworthy
  28. Cast a wider net
  29. Change agent
  30. Circle back - Try: revisit or discuss later
  31. Core competency
  32. Corporate values
  33. Cradle to grave
  34. Crowdsource
  35. Crushing it - It may be Gary Vaynerchuk’s favorite phrase, but what does it really mean?
  36. Culture fit
  37. Deep dive
  38. Dialogue
  39. Do more with less
  40. Drill down - Try: analyze or scrutinize
  41. Drink the kool-aid
  42. Due diligence
  43. Empower
  44. End of week
  45. Fire fighting
  46. First and foremost - You can drop the ‘and foremost’ for a stronger, simpler sentence.
  47. Food chain
  48. Forward planning - Can one plan backward?
  49. Frictionless
  50. Game changer
  51. Growth hacking
  52. Guesstimate
  53. Hand holding
  54. Hard stop
  55. Head winds - Try: challenges or constraints
  56. Hyperlocal
  57. Ideation
  58. Impact - Everyone loves impact, but it can easily be a fluff word. Give it real meaning.
  59. In the black
  60. In the loop
  61. In today’s world - What other world are we in?
  62. Irregardless - Most believe this word is not a word.
  63. It's a paradigm shift
  64. It is what it is - Why not add “...and I don’t care.”
  65. Kick the tires - Try: test or trial
  66. Knee deep
  67. Land and expand
  68. Let's be honest - What is the other option?
  69. Leverage
  70. Lipstick on a pig
  71. Lots of moving parts
  72. Low hanging fruit
  73. Magic bullet
  74. Make it pop
  75. Mission critical
  76. Move the needle - This phrase calls for metrics. Do you have them?
  77. New normal
  78. On the runway
  79. Open the kimono
  80. Organic growth
  81. Paradigm shift
  82. Peel the onion
  83. Perfect storm
  84. Personal brand
  85. Prethink - Does ‘pre’ add any value here?
  86. Productize - Does your audience see this verb as a word?
  87. Pull the trigger - Try: initiate or kick-off
  88. Raise the bar
  89. Reinvent the wheel
  90. Reach out
  91. Resource intensive
  92. Results oriented - This should be a given.
  93. Revolutionize - A rare occurrence stated commonly.
  94. Robust
  95. Run it up the flagpole
  96. Scalability
  97. Secret sauce
  98. Shovel ready - Try: prepared or simple ready
  99. Silver bullet
  100. Solutioneering - Be careful of words that didn’t exist last year.
  101. Stop gap
  102. Strategic partnership - Which partnerships are not strategic?
  103. Straw man
  104. Summit
  105. Survival strategy
  106. Sweetheart deal
  107. Swimlane
  108. Synergy - Perhaps the most infamous jargon term.
  109. Table the conversation
  110. Tailwinds
  111. Take offline
  112. Take it to the next level
  113. Tee up
  114. Test the water - Try: trial or investigate
  115. Thought leader - Today, everyone is a thought leader. Use the term thoughtfully.
  116. Tiger team
  117. Top of mind
  118. Touch base - Try: contact or chat
  119. Transparent
  120. Triage
  121. Trim the fat
  122. Upstream
  123. Value add - value implicitly adds value. If there is no add, there is no value.
  124. Vertical
  125. Viral
  126. War room
  127. Where the rubber meets the road - Try: implementation area

Note, this list of jargon examples does not include individual company’s jargon which must be tracked and translated into everyday business speak. Only you can navigate and identify your organization’s special brand of jargon.

Try our Jargon Grader

Mary Cullen

About the author

Mary Cullen

Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Rhode Island, a M.A in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.

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