Sigh. Still reason to be cranky about jargon

Jargon sounds like blah-blahTime to get cranky, again, about jargon and annoying words. Who’s with me?

First up are overused words that are quickly becoming jargon:

  • Hacks. I get it, it’s a handy short word, which is useful in headlines. In most cases, it’s thin disguise for “tips,” as in “23 best productivity hacks of the year.”
  • Killer. Again, I understand. People like to use it in headlines (along with amazing, awesome, unbelievable, etc.)  because of the promise of something truly revolutionary: “6 tips to create a killer article on LinkedIn.” It never delivers.
  • Resonate. A beautiful word recalling the way sound echoes, but increasingly becoming marketing-speak for reaching customers, as in “a message that resonates.”
  • Eschew. I have never heard someone actually SAY this word out loud in place of “deliberately avoid,” but I keep seeing it in written material.

Next, here’s jargon and gobbledygook that just will not go away:

  • Actionable. Usually means “useful” or “ways you can act.”
  • Leverage. Maybe this gets more play because if you plan to “use” employees to achieve something, it sounds unpleasant. Must be better to “leverage your workforce”? No.
  • Incentivize. Ugh. Please just “encourage” someone.
  • Deploy. Companies love to “deploy” software or programs. How about “using” or “introducing” them instead?
  • Impact (as both noun and verb). Better to “have an effect” or “to affect.”
  • Unpack. I think this usually refers to examine in detail or understand the meaning of something. The fact that it’s not obvious is a good clue that it’s jargon.
  • Pivot. The jargony way of suggesting a change in plan.
  • Bespoke. Formerly a word that applied to suits, now it’s been hijacked to suggest custom or tailored work.
  • Utilize. A perennial on my list! I just ran across “underutilized,” too, which really set my teeth on edge. “Use,” please.

What are your most-hated jargon and annoying words?

Related reading:
The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary has more jargon than I’ve ever heard
Getting rid of jargon is one of 7 ways to trim and tone flabby writing

“Blah blah” image by “pakorn” and

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  1. Posted May 19, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Great topic and list, Sue, though I’ll guess I’ll stop short of saying your post resonated with me…I’d like to add “bandwidth” as in “We don’t have the bandwidth to take on that project” instead of resources, capacity or ability.

  2. Posted May 19, 2016 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh, good one. The first time someone asked me if I had the bandwidth to take something on, it took me by surprise. Sadly, it is not surprising any more.

  3. Posted May 20, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    “Brand advocates” are bad enough, but “employee advocacy” sucks the big one.

    Organizations are NOT causes! Down with this marketing jargon; leave staff alone!

  4. Posted May 21, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Marketing-speak is sneaking into the worst places, Judy!

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