Lingo bingo: From 'strategic staircase' to 'peeling the onion': how many of these office jargon phrases have you heard today?

Many workers admit they are confused by management-speak and office jargon.
Many workers admit they are confused by management-speak and office jargon.

Millions of workers say they are baffled by office jargon - with phrases such as 'helicopter view', 'strategic staircase' and 'drilling down' causing widespread confusion.

One in five has admitted to sitting through an entire meeting without knowing what on earth their bosses were talking about.

The same number said they are often party to telephone calls in which clients pepper their conversation with so much jargon they completely lose the meaning.

Researchers who polled 2,000 office workers found many can't stand to hear cheesy phrases such as 'it's on my radar', 'peel the onion' and 'reach out'.

Seven out of 10 workers admit they completely switch off if their boss starts saying things like 'think outside the box' or 'strategic staircase',.

And four in 10 are often completely baffled by their boss, and don't understand a word they are saying.

But despite being confused when the boss is spouting jargon, 15 per cent of workers admit they sometimes throw in phrases like 'it's not rocket science' and 'run this up the flagpole' just to sound like they know what they're talking about.

The study shows a quarter of office workers have been guilty of trying to weave as many office-speak phrases into a business meeting as possible, just to pass the time.

Seven in 10 people believe those who use 'office lingo' are just trying to be something they're not, and 74 per cent consider this type of talk in the workplace to be a pointless irritation.

A quarter of workers feel ashamed if they catch themselves using phrasing such as 'close of play', 'bring to the table' or 'hit the ground running'.


1. Blue sky thinking - empty thinking without influence

2. Think outside the box - think creatively

3. Touch base offline - lets meet and talk

4. Close of play - end of the day

5. Going forward - look ahead

6. No brainer - so obvious

7. Action that - put into practice

8. Drill down - investigate thoroughly

9. Thought shower - brainstorm

10. Flogging a dead horse - waste your efforts

11. Hot desking - sharing several desks with colleagues

12. Heads up - notification

13. It's on my radar - I'm considering it

14. Joined up thinking - thinking about all the facts

15. Bring to the table - contribution to the group

16. Punch a puppy - do something detestable but good for the business

17. Run this up the flagpole - try it out

18. Cracking the whip - use your authority to make someone work better

19. Moving the goalposts - change criteria

20. EOP - end of play

21. Working fingers to the bone - working very hard

22. Game changer - fundamental shift

23. It's not rocket science - it's not difficult

24. Hit the ground running - start work quickly

25. Ping - get back to

26. Low hanging fruit - easy win business

27. Singing from the same hymn sheet - all on the same page

28. Strategic staircase - business plan

29. Park something - hold an idea

30. Benchmark - point of reference

31. COB - close of business

32. Reach out - contact

33. Re-inventing the wheel - steal the idea from someone else

34. Dot the I's and cross the t's - pay attention

35. Best practice - most effective way

36. Al Desko - lunch at the desk

37. Backburner - de-prioritise

38. Pick it up and run with it - move ahead with an idea

39. Play hardball - act forcefully

40. This idea has legs - good idea

41. Synergy - two things work together

42. I'm swamped - busy

43. It's a win / win - good for both sides

44. Look under the bonnet - analyse the situation

45. Quick and dirty - quick solution

46. Peel the onion - examine the problem

47. Out of the loop - not involved in the decision

48. Wow factor - amazing

49. Helicopter view - broad view of the business

50. Elevator pitch - brief presentation

The study was carried out by working animal charity SPANA, whose chief executive Jeremy Hulme said: "If you've ever sat in a meeting wondering what on earth colleagues are talking about, it seems you're not the only one."