Corporate Lingo.

by Jennifer Sey


I think the thing I dislike most about working in the corporate world is the lingo. Surprising right? It isn't the long hours, the politics, the lay offs, the existential pushing rock up hill over and over again to no avail...Nope. It's the lingo. As kind of a word snob, words like “impactful” and “incent” and phrases like “double click” and “ping me” really get my goat. For those of you who don't have to work amidst this nonsense, some quick definitions:


1. Impactful (an oldie and not so goodie): a nonexistent word coined by marketers to convey, yes, you guessed it, the “impact” of an ad campaign. Common usage: Wow, this ad is really impactful! (meaning: consumers will not fail to notice it and go buy whatever product is being featured). For my money, I'd just assume add the extra word and say: Wow, this ad has great impact!


Part of the reason people use it is because the negative expression of it – We need something that is more impactful - is a nicer, albeit more passive aggressive way of saying – This sucks. No one will notice it and it won't make them want to buy whatever we're hocking. Do it again.


The other reason, of course, is that it makes us feel like a special club with our own language. Lends credibility to our profession if we speak in a language that is ours and ours alone. Or so goes the subconscious reasoning.


2. Incent: Motivate. Encourage. Sometimes we even make it longer and say “incentivize”. Horrid. I'll stick with “incline” or “provoke”, thank you very much.


3. Double Click: Taken from our computer culture, it means “go deeper on a subject”. As in: We'll double click on how to incent purchase in a moment... Gruesome.


4. Ping me: Also taken from computer culture. What it really is is a network tool used to test whether a host is reachable. It was named after pulses of sound made by sonar to contact submarines. How we use it today: Poke me. Remind me. Tell me you're there. As in: Ping me next week when you've finished your presentation and we'll sit down and review it. Can't wait. I'm sure it will be really impactful!


I do realize that I am not the first person to complain about the use of inanities such as those mentioned above. But I bring them up only to point out that I've recently noticed a new trend in corporate linguistic foolishness, best illustrated by use of the words “dialogue” and “journey.” Here, some illustrative uses:


I absolutely loved every word of this! You nailed it. Corporate jargon is rampant, and it gets worse by the moment. One of my favorites: "reach out". Uggggh. Why oh why does everyone buy into this BS? I don't get it. I have blogged about this topic before. In fact, I just wrote a whole piece about the overuse of "journey". ( Check it out!
BTW, I'm not a mom...but I'm a fan. I just wanted to REACH OUT and thank you!


i heard a new one this week. "Concretize". As in "lets concretize these agreements". Like, Lets agree. For reals.


Lol @ Ping me. I must admit "Bio Break" is a new one for me. Feeling slightly out of touch here ladies!

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I have never heard "solution" as a verb! that is nails on chalkboard annoying. wow. "calendar" is a good (meaning bad) one. oh there are so many AWFUL language tragedies, i may have to write another one on this...


OMG, cannot believe I am going to admit this, but sometimes my husband says he will ping me later in the know like to see what's for dinner, what time I'll be home, etc.


HA! I thought it was only my company that mangled English. My "favorites" are calendar and solution -- both nouns turned into verbs. Let's calendar a meeting after Labor Day to solution the budget shortfall. The words are SCHEDULE and SOLVE. They already exist in the dictionary!!!

As for incent: my favorite story is one Harvard grad (she) correcting another Harvard grad (he) at B-school (not Harvard). He repeatedly used incentivize in a marketing class discussion, only to have she scream out in frustration, "Incentivize is not a real word." Battle of the Harvards. I thought is was very funny -- what a relief!


lmao @ "bio break"...that takes the cake for me! I am another fan of "real language" and another non-word that gets me is "irregardless". I've never understood why that word exists...but in a culture that allows "double click" to mean anything other than the action of one's index finger with a computer mouse. *sigh* Hey, anyone else interested in running off to a deserted island with me? Only folks who can pass a grammar test are allowed!


I hate UTILIZE. Two extraneous syllables.

In 1993, I was an entry level personnel assistand and tried in vain to convince my know-it-all new manager that "incent" was not a real word. She insisted I use it. I cringed even as I typed it.



I couldn't agree more! I love language...real language; but some of the words I hear? Puh-lease!! Hear are some of my nails-on-the-blackboard words: winingest; usage and utilize. One, which holds a special place in my bowels is the word 'impacted'; think 'constipated'!


this made me laugh out loud. i just heard a new one this week using poker lingo "double down". here's to hoping there's a million dollar prize waiting for us at the end of all of this.