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Office Speak: Crimes Against English

Office Speak: Crimes Against English

Sprechen sie office? If you understand the phrase ΓÇÿThis CLM is an 8th-floor decision but not to worry, the alpha geeks are stress puppiesΓÇÖ then we would like to have a word with you. Preferably, in plain English.

A couple of years ago, brought you our Top Ten Jargon Crimes of the Workplace. Since then we canΓÇÖt help but notice that, as the times have changed, the office language has evolved to new proportions.

Not to let this go unnoticed, we bring you an update of the most-hated office language. Perpetrators, stand by for shame.


PAAS – otherwise known as ΓÇÿpointless, annoying acronym speakΓÇÖ. ItΓÇÖs bad enough if your boss comes to you and says, ΓÇ£I need you to complete that report before lunch ΓÇô or by the end of the day at the very latest ΓÇô along with your usual tasks, or youΓÇÖre in big trouble.ΓÇ¥

But take heart if this phrase comes out, ΓÇ£Action that VIR before youΓÇÖre OFL ΓÇô or COP latest ΓÇô without dropping BAU, or youΓÇÖre 404.ΓÇ¥ After all, you might be late on your deadline, but at least you can speak English.

2. Getting Your Ducks in Order

ThereΓÇÖs an increasing number of metaphorical ducks in business these days. Rife among UK businesses, these imaginary aquatic birds are the only way to get anything done, apparently.

Workers take note ΓÇô you are not lining up ducks, nor do you need to invoke an image of you doing so, especially if hand gestures are involved. Repeat after me: you are completing a series of tasks in the most logical order. Now, was that so difficult?

3. Expectation Management

If youΓÇÖre planning to ΓÇÿmanage your bossΓÇÖs expectationsΓÇÖ then youΓÇÖre likely intending to lie to your manager about your progress in the hopes of winning a bit more time before you get labelled a ΓÇÿ404ΓÇÖ for missing your deadline.

Instead of spending all that time thinking of unnecessary ways to describe cutting corners, you might consider just getting the job done.

4. Workforce Reduction

Perhaps the only thing worse than finding out youΓÇÖve just been fired is having to figure the fact out for yourself because your boss keeps talking about a ΓÇÿworkforce reductionΓÇÖ.

This interesting phrase, presumably adopted to make reality a bit less harsh, has been enjoying popularity during the recession as lots of workforces have been ΓÇÿreducingΓÇÖ to cut the cost of running business.

5. Delayering

If youΓÇÖre not reduced, you might find yourself the victim of ΓÇÿdelayeringΓÇÖ. Delayering a business basically means making redundancies, which usually involve firing a ΓÇÿlayerΓÇÖ of business, such as middle management.

Should you be ΓÇÿdelayeredΓÇÖ, it may be some comfort to you to be leaving the kind of organisation that compares its management structure to a cake.

6. Marzipan Layer

From the same thought process that brought you ΓÇÿdelayeringΓÇÖ, we bring you the sticky, sweet layer of marzipan that lies between you and a million pound bonus. The bizarre ΓÇÿmarzipan layerΓÇÖ sits between middle management and the board room.

The phrase reportedly originates from the concept that the marzipan is just below the ΓÇÿicing on the cakeΓÇÖ (in this case, the board). It also gestures to the fact that most women get trapped in this sticky layer on their way up the ranks.

7. Thought Showering

Ah, political correctness. The social geniuses who nervously refer to men and women as generically gendered ΓÇÿpeopleΓÇÖ and forbid Father Christmas from saying ΓÇÿho ho hoΓÇÖ in case it offends women now bring you a gentle ΓÇÿthought showerΓÇÖ.

Not only is brainstorming considered too aggressive a phrase, apparently it could also be interpreted as a derogatory reference to mental ill health. We have yet to meet a single person who has ever interpreted the term this way.

8. Blue Sky Thinking

Hey kid, the skyΓÇÖs the limit! Reach for the stars! Grab that dream rainbow as it arches overhead! Such offputtingly optimistic phrases have been joined by the term ΓÇÿblue sky thinkingΓÇÖ which encourages people to ΓÇÿthink bigΓÇÖ and ΓÇÿreject limitationsΓÇÖ.

It is such methods of thought that have got us all into trouble at some point in our lives and weΓÇÖd rather it wasnΓÇÖt now accompanied with an idealistic phrase that makes us feel like weΓÇÖre in a slow-motion shampoo advert.

9. Keeping it on the QT

Has someone recently asked you to keep something on the ΓÇÿQTΓÇÖ or the ΓÇÿDLΓÇÖ? Be baffled no longer ΓÇô these stand for ΓÇÿquiet timeΓÇÖ and ΓÇÿdown-lowΓÇÖ. They are both ambiguous and pseudo-polite ways of saying ΓÇÿkeep your mouth shutΓÇÖ.

You might return the phrase with its plain English translation next time someone says it to you, if only in the hopes of stopping it from occurring again in the future.


Far from referring to someone as a cute and fluffy mammal, calling someone a WOMBAT now means that they are ΓÇÿa waste of money, brains and timeΓÇÖ.

We appreciate the sentiment but we do think there are other, less adorable ways of telling someone what you think of them.

Do you wish you could be delayered just to avoid all these WOMBATS talking in PAAS while getting their ducks in order? Tell us your most-hated office-isms in the comments below.

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