If You Use One of These 10 Phrases at Work, Your Co-Workers Might Hate You

Businesswomen with coffee gossiping in office cubicles
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Subject: Re: Office jargon, slang, lingo, etc.

Hi all,

We know you don’t have a lot of bandwidth this week, but we felt the need to circle back and address some low-hanging fruit that should help improve your day-to-day.

Office lingo. We know you hate it. This study by Summit Hosting shows just how much.

And while it may be there to help improve synergy, break down silos and get everyone on the same page and speaking the same language, it can also annoy the heck out of your co-workers.

Or even worse, it might make you look less intelligent than the brainiac we all know you are. LOL.

Now, to address the elephant in the room: What exactly is office jargon?

To get you and everyone else on the same page, we put together a list of the 10 most soul-crushing, grating, annoying, downright pull-my-hair-out-right-at-my-standing-desk phrases that probably make your coworkers want to hide from you in the bathroom.

Please, Please, Please Stop Using These 10 Corporate Jargon Phrases Immediately

We can guarantee you’ll seem 50% more intelligent and 100% more original if you drop these phrases from your vocabulary.

“Reach out”

This is a common one in our wide world of writing. You’ve always got to reach out to someone: a source, an expert, your editor. But come on, unless you’re singing along to Depeche Mode, you can find a better way to say “I need to call so-and-so.” Hey, why don’t you try that!

“Ping me”

Ping you? Really? How about I email you, text you or send you a Slack message. I get that it’s a catch-all for quick communication, but can we be more specific? And don’t you dare start saying “beam me” for video conference calls.


This might be the most soul-crushing office slang. It means layoffs, pink slips, the big goodbye. How about you rightsize your vocabulary before making such a big decision?

“Bio break”

Techies have done a lot to improve our lives, but coining the phrase “bio break” in the halls of startups was not one of them. (Hint: It means you have to go to the bathroom.)

“Circle back”

I’m not sure how this one has so deeply pervaded corporate speak, and I don’t want to “circle back with so-and-so on that” to find out. Say this instead: “Let’s talk about project X again tomorrow.” See how much better that feels?


An oldie but goodie, synergy ostensibly means when teams across departments work together to accomplish a single goal.

“Let’s piggyback off that”

This phrase is only acceptable if you actually climb on your coworker’s back before you say it. Try “Cool, here’s a similar idea,” if you’re too new to the company for unsolicited piggyback rides.

“In so-and-so’s wheelhouse”

First of all, you don’t work on a ship. Second of all, this is just a sneaky way for you to pass the buck — er, give someone else work you don’t want to do.


This probably trickled down from the finance industry, where it literally means to borrow money in pursuit of profit. In the rest of the corporate world, it means to use your strengths to your advantage… I think. This one is a great example of the vagueness of these terms that leaves them meaningless and completely useless when you’re trying to make a point.

“Let’s live Slack”

I had to put this on here even though it may be exclusive to The Penny Hoarder. We use Slack so much that we’ve come to specify when we want to talk face-to-face. Live Slack? YOU MEAN TALK?

Here Are Five Made-Up Office Lingo Phrases to Use Instead

Now that we’ve got the list of annoying corporate speak out of the way, it’s a no-brainer that we piggyback off that problem with a solution. Here are five phrases we just made up.

At worst, they’ll replace some of the outdated lingo from above. At best, they will enlighten your colleagues to the evils of cubicle jargon.

“Let’s cloister this carnival”

Meaning: There are too many people providing input on this subject.

“Can we pickle this?”

Meaning: This meeting is dragging a bit, can we take a break and return to the issue later?

“Let’s not throw a chicken into a woodchipper”

Meaning: It appears we’re thinking of complicated solutions for a simple problem.

“Blorp later?”

Meaning: I’ll contact you in some fashion later today.

“I’m drowning in marshmallows here!”

Meaning: I’m pretty stressed out about this project.

Now, let’s take this offline.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He unironically says LOL all the time.