#251: 21 Business Jargon Examples in English

by | Sep 14, 2022 | 4 comments

Corporate speak. Buzzwords. Jargon. The English-speaking business world is littered with idiomatic expressions, phrasal verbs, and smart-sounding phrases that can sound like another language – not the English you’ve learned.

For example, let’s touch base, or let’s circle back on that tomorrow.

If you’ve ever been in a business meeting and left thinking, “I didn’t understand a single word of that discussion” then you’ve likely experienced a meeting full of invented terms and industry-specific jargon

English business jargon is words and phrases used by employees to express ideas, share information, give details, and more. 

What’s frustrating about jargon is that it’s unnecessary. Business jargon might sound smart or creative but most of the time it can be replaced by simpler, more concise language.

In today’s Confident English lesson, you’re going to learn 21 Business Jargon Examples in English. I want you to know some of the most common examples of current buzzwords so you can easily understand the conversations around you.

And, I’ll be answering the question: should you be using English business jargon in conversations at work?

Related Lessons:

Lead a Business Meeting in English | 10 Must-Have Strategies for Success

Think Out Loud in English — Strategies for Introverts

4 Brainstorming Tips in English [Plus 9 Phrases for Introverts]

21 Business Jargon Examples in English

To organize the 21 examples of business jargon, I’ve divided them into 6 categories with a focus on the purpose and with a translation of what the jargon really means with clear, accurate word choices.

Purpose #1: Buy Yourself Some Time

Sometimes, we don’t have an immediate answer to a question or we need a moment to process and evaluate information before making a decision. 

During these moments, it’s useful to have some key phrases to help you clearly express that you need more time.

The following phrases are commonly used to buy yourself some time. 

  • I’m just trying to think through this; could you give me a moment? 
      • Translation: I’m still evaluating and problem-solving.
  • Let me circle back with [name of person]
    OR
    Let me circle back on this one
      • Translation: Let me get back to you
  • I’m still wrapping my head around this./I’m trying to wrap my head around this.
    • Translation: I’m still processing all this./I’m trying to understand.

Here’s an example of how you might use this during a meeting:

Scenario 1: Imagine you’re in a meeting and a team member proposes a different approach to the company’s marketing strategy.

You might need more time to think about it and say: “That’s a good idea; I’m just trying to think through the best way to implement it.”

Purpose #2: Strengthen Communication

When working with a team, clear lines of communication are essential for efficiency and strong performance.

In business meetings, there are many instances of clarification and delegation of tasks.

The following phrases are often used during those moments: 

  • I wanted to clear this with you first.
      • Translation: I need approval/feedback from you
  • Please keep me in the loop.
      • Translation: Please keep me informed
  • I need to bring you up to speed with X.
    • Translation: I need to update you on X. 

Scenario #2: Perhaps a team member has been on vacation and has missed a few key changes during that time.

You might say to them: “Don’t worry, I’ll bring you up to speed on everything.”

Purpose #3: Caution or Warn 

When we want to remain cautious and/or express caution, there are a few ways to do so. 

You may have heard your boss or team member say the following:

  • Be careful with that – it opens up a can of worms
    • Translation: Be careful because it could lead to a troublesome or complex situation
  • Just to be on the safe side
    • Translation: To take precautions and be prepared
  • There is a caveat to that
    • Translation: There’s a limiting factor or warning
  • Let’s not put all of one’s eggs in one basket
    • Translation: Avoid putting all resources and/or energy into one thing

How would you use these examples of corporate speak? Let’s take a look at the following example. 

Scenario #3: Perhaps, your boss heard back from a potential client and they decided to entrust your team with a project. However, there’s a condition.

Your boss would say, “We got the project! But, there’s a small caveat; we’ll need to have everything done by the end of the week.” 

Purpose #4: Brainstorm With Your Team 

Meetings are a great time to brainstorm for several reasons: 

  • The entire team is present
  • Everyone has a different approach or point of view
  • One idea can spark a chain of original ideas

During this creative process, you might encourage someone to share their thoughts, put something on the back burner, or even pitch your own ideas. 

The following phrases would be helpful during a brainstorming session:

  • Do you want to take a stab at it? 
    • Translation: Do you want to try? 
  • We’ll need to flesh this out a little more.
    • Translation: We’ll need to add more substance, make it more concrete, or clearer
  • Keep it in your back pocket
    • Translation: Keep it available to use when necessary or when the time is right
  • It may be a long shot, but…
    • Translation: This might be far-fetched but…
  • Just off the top of my head
    • Translation: Just to tell you my immediate thoughts/ideas…

Scenario #4: Imagine a team member requests suggestions for naming a new contest. You might be struck with excitement and say, “These are just off the top of my head, but what about Win It or Lose It or Spin To Win?

Purpose #5: Guide & Encourage Your Team

There may be times when your team members need a little encouragement or some guidance. 

To encourage your team or guide them, you could say the following:

  • Bring your ‘A’ game!
    • Translation: be at your best or perform as best as one can
  • We’ve gotten this far, so let’s see it through.
    • Translation: let’s continue doing something until it’s done, even though it’s difficult
  • Let’s not waste time and get the ball rolling.
    • Translation: Let’s begin or start doing something

Scenario #5: Imagine you’ve been working on a sales pitch and your boss hopes everything goes well during tomorrow’s presentation to the client. He/She may say, “You’ve all done a great job. Get some sleep and be ready to bring your ‘A’ game tomorrow!” 

Purpose #6: Express Momentum & Stability

All businesses, and teams, have their ups and downs. At times progress is just as it was predicted and, at other times, it may be slow. 

When describing momentum or even the stability of something, you might say: 

  • We’re gaining/losing ground in X.
    • Translation: Advancing/Stagnating in X.
  • Get back into the swing of things
    • Translation: To return to a usual routine
  • Gain/lose momentum
    • Translation: Move faster/slow down

Let’s take a look at how we might use one of these during a meeting.

Scenario #6: Perhaps, the team has done a great job promoting the release of an upcoming product.

The marketing manager might say, “We’ve gained some ground in creating interest in the younger demographic. Let’s brainstorm a good social media strategy to ensure we don’t lose that momentum.”

Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Now that you have 21 examples of English business jargon, should you use these in your next business meeting?

At the start of this lesson, I highlighted that corporate speak can often be replaced with simpler, more concise language. 

And in my lessons on leadership communication, I’ve highlighted that leaders communicate using clear, accurate language.

 

Truthfully, jargon is often used to hide the fact that someone isn’t clear about what they want to say. Moreover, jargon is used because everyone else is using it. It seems popular and sounds smart. 

If you can choose words that are simple, clear, and accurate, you will be a better communicator.

You will, of course, hear the examples of business jargon your learned today and, the next time you do, you’ll know exactly how to translate those words and understand their purpose.

 

What about you? Like my student Luis, have you been writing down examples of words and expressions you hear in English?

If you’re struggling to understand the meaning of jargon you hear at work, share the examples with me. I’d love to help translate them or even create an entire lesson on the topic.

You can share your thoughts – and your questions for me – in the comments below.

      ~ Annemarie

       

      P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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