Beware of Buzzword Bingo
Far back in the mists of Internet time (that would be the 1990s), a couple of wags at a computer company called Silicon Graphics created a subversive game that filled a need.
You’ve been there, perhaps: a company meeting at which executives or tech geeks unironically launch volleys of absurd marketing catchphrases or tech jargon. Well, these two fellows brainstormed some of the most egregious examples, created bingo-type cards with each box in the grid containing a term, and passed them around to select colleagues.
The idea was that whenever you heard a buzzword, you’d mark the pertinent box (surreptitiously, of course). As in bingo, you strove to be the first person to mark five boxes in a row. In this version, however, it was not advisable to leap to your feet and shout “Bingo!”
Instead, you would, without interfering with the official proceedings, either silently and stealthily notify your fellow participants or, if you were bold enough, ask a question of the presenter that somehow, in the context of the discussion, employed the use of the word bingo — and hope that neither you nor your competitors would lose it and bust a gut.
So, what does this have to do with DailyWritingTips.com? Don’t be that person who inspires a rousing game of buzzword bingo, or perpetuates the need for the game. If your employer or client requires you to use more than a couple of selections from the following word list in writing or speech, you have my permission to cry. (No honest person will deny having used at least one.) You also have permission to delete the term from your word-hoard and employ a handy little language called English.
Here are 24 terms — enough for one card (with a Free spot in the middle of a 5 x 5 grid):
2.0 (n.): the next generation
action item (n.): high-priority issue
bandwidth (n.): attention span, or ability to devote resources (such as brainpower)
benchmark (n.): standard
best practice (n.): a standard, proven strategy
bleeding edge (n.): an intensifier of bleeding edge; denotes innovation
circle (v.): check back with
deep dive (n.): an intensive exploration of detail
dialogue (n., v.): talk
going forward (v. and adv.): from now on (but with the implication that the period before going forward was marked by going backward — ass-backward, that is)
granularity (n.): fine detail
helicopter view (n.): overview
incentivize (or incent) (v.): to motivate
leverage (n., v.): power (n.), enhance or exploit (v.)
metrics (n.): measurements
mindshare (n.): expression of a thought
paradigm (n.): model
low-hanging fruit (n.): the simplest option
push(ing) the envelope (verb phrase): exert(ing) maximum effort
synergy (n.): compatibility
take (blank) offline (verb phrase): discuss something later
team player (n.): someone who is collegial and cooperative
think(ing) outside the box (verb phrase): to produce, or producing, unorthodox ideas
touch base (verb phrase): to meet for a status report
value-added (adj.): accompanied by an additional benefit (also used in noun form: value add)
For an inspired, brilliant skewering of the buzzword mentality, go to this column from the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com (scroll down past the usually droll columnist’s uncharacteristic rant to “In other news”).
Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!
Keep learning! Browse the Style category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:
- Possessive of Proper Names Ending in S
- List of Greek Words in the English Language
- 35 Synonyms for Rain and Snow
Stop making those embarrassing mistakes! Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips today!
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!