Top ten jargon howlers

I had other plans today but feel compelled instead to talk about jargon. I read a blog post yesterday from the Performancing website entitled ‘Improve your blog’s brand by creating new jargon’

Yaro Starak argues that by creating new jargon for your niche you ‘ build(s) the perception that we are experts who know what we’re talking about.’

I think that is a really risky strategy:

  • Firstly because according to the dictionary, jargon is not only words pertaining to a specific job or profession but can also be ‘unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.
  • Secondly because you have to have a great deal of authority and charisma to get your followers to adopt a new piece of language. Seth Godin can get away with ‘purple cow’ because he is Seth Godin.

At best jargon just gets in the way of what you are trying to say, at worst it makes you look as if you are trying too hard. In certain professions some jargon is simply shorthand. My husband told me he had recently received an e-mail saying, ‘If you do this, the dog will obscure the slate.’ That’s TV for you I’m afraid !

Some jargon makes me laugh and next time I am going to give you those as a top 10, but for now here are the ones I really hate.

1. Fit for purpose. Pejorative. Ubiquitous sound-bite phrase used to describe any government department/ or indeed anything that no longer functions as hoped.

2. Going forward. What’s wrong with in the future ?

3. Core competencies. What we do well ?

4. Woffice. An ill-conceived BBC idea of an individual  mini office that was wired for new technology.

5. Me plc. That’s just bad.

6. Facetime. Meeting ?

7. Leverage. Borrowed from finance and used just about everywhere.

8. Incentivize like Monetize. They are just made–up words.

9. Drill down. A cliché often applied to websites and the information found there.

10. ‘Own’ as in we must own the argument.

Many thanks to and for some of their jargon ideas.


One response to “Top ten jargon howlers

  1. Lucy – A great blog and I couldn’t agree more with your comments. My own personal pet hate is the word ‘leverage’- does anyone actually know what it means? People seem to use it indiscriminately and probably just because they think it sounds good!

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