Office Jargon Decoded: Translating Buzzwords Into Plain English

The word “jargon” has a much longer history than most realize. In Old French and Middle English, it meant “twittering.” One of its earliest uses was in The Canterbury Tales, where Chaucer uses it to describe the noise birds make.

Understandably, considering jargon now refers to in-group vocabulary that is meaningless to outsiders. Much like avian twittering is to humans.

You may hear your own employees slinging around office jargon. Fail to comprehend this business speak, and you lose an important chance to communicate.

To make it easy for you, we’re here to translate business buzzwords into plain English. Read on for a quick glossary of current-year business sayings.

Brain Dump

Brain dump may sound like an eloquent version of brain fart, but it’s more intuitive than that. A brain dump is “dumping” everything from your brain onto a notes page. It also just so happens to be a technique for managing stress.

Office Jargon Example

Jim had a brainstorming sesh with Pam about how to prank their colleague Dwight. He did a quick brain dump of ways to convince Dwight that the weekend was coming one day early. Dwight then ruined his perfect attendance streak by taking Friday off like it was Saturday.

Clock Watcher

Clock watchers are close cousins of quiet quitters. They’ve got an eagle eye on the clock, ready to soar out of the office the moment it strikes 5 PM. Finding a clock watcher clocked in outside their scheduled hours is like finding a Gen Z intern without TikTok.

Office Jargon Example

Stanley got a new standing desk. Not just because of the obvious benefits. Also because as soon as 5 PM rolls around, he saves himself a minute or two since he’s ready to walk out.

Flesh Out

Flesh out might seem like a code word to let Meredith know she’s got a bit too much cleavage again. But no, flesh out is just an informal way to say “elaborate.” I.e., expanding upon or adding substance to an idea.

Office Jargon Example

Holly in HR didn’t ask Creed to flesh out his prior experience. She feared he might not be joking about having worked for the mafia.

Hot Desking

Hot desking isn’t about the seating arrangement for the office’s most attractive people. Rather, a creative way to use space. Hot desking means having dynamic desk assignments based on current needs.

Office Jargon Example

Ryan decided to hot desk Jim’s seat while Jim was gone. He figured it was a helpful way to stay close to the boss, Michael Scott. He sorely regretted this decision when Michael sent him on random errands to get yams.

Maximize Your Space with Workspace Solutions

Office jargon changes from year to year, so it behooves you to keep up-to-date with the latest business sayings. These days, they range from brain dump to flesh out. Come tomorrow, employees may determine that the term “clock watcher” has fallen out of fashion and turn to something else.

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