The Glossary of Work Lingo and What Each Weird Phrase *Really* Means
Welcome to the modern office. It’s a jungle in here.
Nobody is safe. It can happen to any of us. Every day we’re bombarded by emails bursting with passive-aggressive grenades and we attend meetings laden with acronym-wrapped landmines. Trying to crack the code of what our coworkers are really trying to say is dangerous but necessary work.
Ahead, I’ve put together a glossary of what those weird work terms and phrases actually mean, so you can get back to reading instead of reading between the lines. You're welcome.
When they say: “Close of business should be fine.”
They mean: “Please have this done by the time I leave.”
When they say: "Let's go ahead and address the elephant in the room."
They mean: "One of you idiots made a huge mistake and now I'm gonna make this really awkward by telling you what you did wrong in detail."
When they say: "I need to get my ducks in a row."
They mean: "I didn't read your 13 emails about this, Sally."
When they say: "Let's circle back on this."
They mean: "Either you or me made a big mistake on this one and I don't want to talk about it in front of 28 other people, Bob."
When they say: “Thanks in advance…”
They mean: “You’re doing this. You have no choice.”
When they say: “Can I pick your brain for a second?”
They mean: “Can you help me do my job? I have a presentation in 5 minutes and I need you to save my ass.”
When they say: "Let's tackle the low hanging fruit first."
They mean: "Billy is relaxed AF and not paying attention to obvious opportunities."
When they say: "Let's take this offline."
They mean: "Please shut up; you’ve embarrassed me, in public, and will pay later, in private."
When they say: "Sorry team, I was having difficulty with Zoom."
They mean: "Sorry I'm late. I didn't want to come to your boring meeting, Steve."
When they say: Who’s budget is this coming out of?
They mean: Your proposal is dead on arrival.
When they say: "What were the key learnings here?"
They mean: "Let's talk about all of the mistakes you made and how you plan to never screw this up again."
When they say: I saw your e-mail to Max.
They mean: So, now you’re omitting me from distribution? Last time you do that, sneakster!"
When they say: “Feel free to ping me.”
They mean: “Please don't ping me.”
When they say: I’ll run it up the flagpole."
They mean: "I will brown-nose appropriately, see where it goes and if I get approval, I’ll let you know 'my idea' was accepted."
When they say: “Can we revisit in a few months?”
They mean: “Let us never speak of this again.”
When they say: “We crushed it this quarter!”
They mean: “Guys, we're upgrading to 3-ply in the bathrooms!"
When they say: “Last quarter we experienced a bit of churn.”
They mean: “Okay, we may need to switch back to 2-ply."
When they say: “Please advise.”
They mean: “Tell me what to do. I really freakin' need your help!”
When they say: "We’re working in silos here."
They mean: "You're working in a silo, Jenny. Do you like having friends in the office? Because nobody is happy that your silo is killing it."
When they say: “This might be a stupid question, but…”
They mean: “I may not understand this one thing, but I am a very smart person. Don’t get mad.”
When they say: “Can you resend to bubble it up to the top of my inbox”
They mean: “I saw your e-mail, Peter, but I didn't think it was important enough. Since you just made me look like an a$$ in front of everyone for not responding, go ahead and resend it. Oh, and stop being so needy.”
When they say: “Does anyone have the bandwidth for this?"
They mean: “I'm not freakin' doing this, so one of you better step up and say you can't either so we all look overworked instead of lazy AF."
When they say: “Just following up…”
They mean: “If you don’t respond, you will continue to hear from me every couple of days until your eventual death.”
When they say: "We're gonna go ahead a pivot at this time."
What they mean: "Someone really f&%$#@ up and we're really hoping nobody notices."
When they say: “Feel free to Slack me later.”
They mean: “I’m leaving the office before you and I don’t want to feel guilty about it.”
When they say: “This idea isn't scaleable.”
They mean: “I hate your stupid idea, Barbara.”
When they say: “With all due respect…”
They mean: “You are as dense as bread pudding. Get it together, bro."
When they say: “I’ll see what I can do.”
They mean: “Let’s move on!”