Most Overused Business Jargon Words (& What to Say Instead)

Published November 12, 2021
CEO giving presentation at corporate team meeting

If you work in the business world, you've probably heard quite a lot of business jargon. Even if you find these vague and often meaningless buzzwords to be less than helpful, you might find yourself saying or writing them. Do you want to learn how to "just say no" to business buzzwords and jargon? Discover some of the most overused culprits, and find words and phrases to use instead.

Examples of Overused Business Buzzwords

In the world of business, people often use fancy, fluffy buzzwords instead of terms that clearly convey the meaning they are trying to communicate. People who overuse corporate buzzwords are often misunderstood. They can also come across as arrogant or pedantic. The next time you find yourself preparing to utter a buzzword, stop and think about what you really mean, and choose a more precise term.

Overused Buzzword What it Generally Means What to Use Instead
ballpark an approximation of something estimate
bandwidth room in one's schedule to work on something capacity; time
contrarian a team member who disagrees with the majority dissenter; one who disagrees
deliverable what will be produced as a result of work finished product
dialogue a two-way exchange of information conversation; discussion
disambiguate to remove ambiguity clarify
disruptor something that changes the market innovation
ecosystem a specific group, such as a company or work unit organization; team
empower to assign responsibility to someone make responsible for; entrust
epic something exciting or much better than expected amazing; impressive
execute to do something do, perform
evangelist one who spreads the word in a positive way vocal supporter
frictionless something that doesn't meet resistance smooth
guru someone who has a high level of skill or expertise expert
ideation to come up with ideas brainstorm
leverage to use something to one's advantage build upon; use
ninja one who has a high level of skill or expertise expert
optimize to improve to peak function perfect
pivot to change focus on one thing to something else change
punt try something and see how it works out take a chance
robust a reliable product with a lot of features solid
scalability can easily be expanded or reduced adaptable to needs
seamless something that worked easily as it should smooth; problem-free
stopgap temporary measure while waiting for a solution temporary measure
summit a gathering of decision-makers or team members meeting
tailwind momentum likely to lead to business growth favorable business environment
triage decide what should have the highest priority prioritize
unpack go over what happened examine
wordsmith to improve how something is phrased edit
on my radar knowing something needs to be done aware of

Examples of Overused Business Jargon Phrases

Workplace jargon isn't limited to single-word terms. The business world is full of multi-word buzzword phrases that are overused just as often as their one-term counterparts. It's best to avoid fuzzy phrases that don't reflect positively on your communication skills, or accurately convey your meaning. Replace them with words or phrases that leave little to no room for misinterpretation.

Overused Jargon Phrase What it Generally Means What to Use Instead
all-hands meeting a meeting that all employees are expected to attend company meeting
back burner wait to do something later rather than starting right away put on hold; delay
back of the envelope an educated guess at what something might cost rough estimate
best of breed best of its kind or type best; top
bleeding edge first of its kind; latest approach innovative; fresh
boil the ocean spending time trying to do something impossible waste of time
business landscape external factors that impact the business business environment
drill down to seek more information; to review the details learn more; explore
gain traction to attract a following or build a customer base to achieve success
herding cats getting people with different priorities to act together leading; organizing
human capital the people who work for an organization employees
low-hanging fruit business opportunities that are easily within reach easiest opportunities
make hay to accomplish a lot within a limited timeframe maximize efficiency
pain point an aspect of a project that poses a challenge difficulty
paradigm shift previous assumptions are no longer valid fundamental change
raise the bar seek to achieve a higher standard improve
secret sauce what sets a company apart from its competitors business strategy
take offline discuss individually rather than in a group setting discuss privately
tee up getting prepared to launch an idea or product prepare to begin
touch base to follow up with a discussion or to provide an update talk, check-in
war room the place plans are made or work is done conference room
white paper a report that provides authoritative information report; article

Just Say No to Business Jargon and Buzzwords

Business jargon may be more than just annoying. Using jargon makes it difficult for colleagues to communicate effectively with each other or with clients. After all, clarity is essential for effective communication. When buzzwords and jargon become part of the conversation, the result is anything but clear.

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Most Overused Business Jargon Words (& What to Say Instead)