Business B.S.: Terms That Need to Die

I’ve been to business school as well as law school, so yes, I’m on b.s. overload, but here’s a dirty little secret:


Contrary to popular belief, “legalese” really refers to strict definitions more than an entirely different language. The word “indemnify,” for example, really has one meaning, it’s just that “indemnify” is a word that isn’t used much in common parlance.

The law is also big on identifying things to (don’t laugh) avoid confusion and ambiguity. A contract has specific elements everyone needs to know and agree upon before the thing can become legally binding. A similar phenomenon is seen in the definitions of crimes, such as murder and robbery. 

The business world though…the business world is where the b.s. meets the road. Which is a pretty gross visual, but I digress.

Dig, if you will, the following abuses of the English language: 

Capture. As in, “Did we capture your concerns?” “Have we captured what we discussed?” It’s like you’re inprisoning words and ideas or something. I picture a cowboy wrangling a thesaurus or something, which would be a pretty hilarious visual, but I digress. 

Why not say, “Did we get that?” “Did we understand?” “Capture” sounds stilted and lame. 

Energy. Not as a physical or scientific phenomenon, but as in, “There’s a lot of energy around this.” “There was productive energy around this issue.” Nails on a chalkboard, my friends, nails on a chalkboard. 

Can one not just say “excitement”? “That was a productive conversation”? “We’re happy with the results”? 

“There’s a lot of energy around this” is trying to create vivid imagery where none is needed. Maybe it’s just me. But it’s not. 

Flavor. As in, “This proposal comes in two flavors.” “There are multiple flavors of this product.”

No! Food has flavors. An inedible object has one: Inedible. Just say “type” or “variety.” No one is going to eat your car or your investment vehicle or your industrial machinery. Unless they have pica, but that’s a very small, specialized subset of the population. If they do have pica, flavor away. 

Add value. As in, “The added value of this program…” “The value added proposition…”

What, are you too good for the word “benefit”? Just say “benefit.” There’s no benefit to saying “Added value.”

See? That was easy. 

Telecon. Oh, you mean like a phone call?

Deliverable. As in, “What’s the deliverable on this project.” For goodness’ sake, people, just say “What do you want?” or “What should I give you?” We’re not the postman here. 

If you are reading this and you are the postman, kindly disregard the above paragraph. 


Here’s one I heard at work today:

Parking Lot. As in, “This is a parking lot discussion item we didn’t get to last week,” or “Let’s parking lot this until later.”

No…just no. Just say “We’ll come back to it another time.” “Parking lot” is just so forced.

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4 thoughts on “Business B.S.: Terms That Need to Die

  1. I hate Hate HATE business jargon! It’s infuriating, and everything is designed to be ambiguous or make it sound more important than it really is. Perception is everything to businesses, and if they can make what they do *sound* important, then they can charge a premium for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Great point! Overinflating the importance of something can overinflate the price tag.

      It grates like hell, doesn’t it? I hate to keep making the comparison to “legalese,” but legal language is actually trying to get to the specific to *avoid* confusion, not create it.


  2. Business jargon is the worst, but getting into the project environment is even worse, which I was glad you covered at the end. Working in the programme/project environment is bizarre as every area seems to have their own unique sayings/words/acronyms/idioms. One I hear on a daily basis is: “It’s like walking through treacle”, which has a bizarre David Brent-esq feeling to it. Why people can’t just say “we’re making this a bit difficult for ourselves”

    Liked by 1 person

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