It's a no-brainer: the UK's most hated business jargon

Management buzzwords known as jargon have created confusion in workplaces across the country for what feels like forever, and due to recent non-standard English varieties, including slang and abbreviations, these often loathed phrases have taken on a life of their own.

Despite despising these clichéd phrases, we’ve all been guilty of using them. It’s almost impossible to avoid them altogether, but which one should we make most effort to veto from our office vocabulary?

We’ve polled the British public to discover which office lingo they hate most. From “no brainer” to “game-changer”, the nation has decided the 33 most cringe-inducing phrases they hear at work. We’ve even gone the extra mile and found annoying business jargon across the world, just to show that we’re not the only culprits of cliched corporate speak.

So, let’s touch base on this business jargon.

Show more
Show less

The top 33 worst business jargon ranked

1.  Touch base

2.  No-brainer

3.  Outside the box

4.  Going the extra mile

5.  Blue sky thinking

6.  Game-changer

7.  Brainstorm

8.  Ping an email

9.  E-meet you

10. Thought shower

11. Ducks in a row

12. On my radar

13. Low hanging fruit

14. Park that

15. Stick a pin in it

16. Get the ball rolling

17. Paradigm shift

18. Out of the loop

19. Off-piste

20. Moving forward

21. Window of opportunity

22. Drill down

23. Put it on ice

24. Comfort zone

25. Deliverables

26. Take that offline

27. Ideation

28. Move the needle

29. Reach out

30. Circle back

31. Actionable

32. Break out

33. Take outs

“Touch base”, “no-brainer”, “outside the box” and “go the extra mile’” all topped the most hated lingo, so we’ve looked into where these monstrosities came from, how they came about and why they’re so widely used.

Touch base
It’s official, the UK public despise the phrase “touch base”, which originates from baseball. The American sport is famous for its four bases which the player must run around in order to score points. Touching base is a vital aspect of the game, as without it, the player can’t advance. In business terms, this has come to mean “let’s make contact”, “cover all possibilities” or “check-in with each other”.

No brainer is another disliked piece of office lingo. Americans coined the phrase in the 1950’s to refer to things that require little mental effort. It can also be used to describe an easily made decision. Looking at the results of our survey, perhaps the easily made decision would be to omit “no-brainer” from your next email.

Outside the box
This usually refers to “thinking outside the box”, and once again Americans are to blame for this one-we’re starting to see a pattern here! This phrase was born a little later than “no-brainer” in the 1960’s and has become one of the biggest business clichés. Although we’re sure you know it, the phrase means to “think creatively” or “in an unconventional way”.

Going the extra mile
This phrase, which means “to do more than is expected of you” actually has religious origins. It originates from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Ch 5 v 41) which refers to a law that would allow Roman soldiers the right to ask any Jewish citizen to carry his belongings for a mile. Jesus used this example to show his followers that they can do more than is expected of them, by taking Roman soldiers’ belongings for an “extra mile”.

Business jargon around the world
It seems the UK has an unwanted abundance of business jargon, which got us wondering whether other countries have to endure the same tiresome office lingo. We have to admit, there is comfort in knowing that Germany has phrases such as “now it’s about the sausage” and Greek’s often exclaim “he cooked the fish on his lips”.

Show more
Show less
Nine cows, one hair

Nine cows, one hair

Jiu Niu Yi Mao
This phrase originates from China and is used to describe something that has little impact e.g. “there’s no point including that in the index, it’s would be like nine cows, one hair”.

Show more
Show less
Now it’s about the sausage

Now it’s about the sausage

Jetzt's geht's um die Wurst!
This phrase originates from Germany and is used to describe the final stages of a project e.g. “everyone, it’s time to knuckle down. Now it’s about the sausage.”

Show more
Show less
Sliding in on a shrimp sandwich

Sliding in on a shrimp sandwich

Glida in på en räkmacka
This phrase originates from Sweden and is used to describe someone who has things easy e.g. “who do you think you are, sliding in on a shrimp sandwich” or “he’s just sliding in on a shrimp sandwich, isn’t he?”

Show more
Show less
What does gingerbread have to do with a windmill?

What does gingerbread have to do with a windmill?

Co ma piernik do wiatraka?
This phrase originates from Poland and is used to ask what one thing has to do with another e.g. “you may say that but what does gingerbread have to do with a windmill?”

Show more
Show less
He cooked the fish on his lips

He cooked the fish on his lips

έψαχνε ένα ψάρι στα χείλη του
This phrase originates from Greece and is used when someone makes life difficult for themselves e.g.
“Why has he made it so complicated? He’s cooked the fish on his lips”.

Show more
Show less

French Business Jargon

To give one’s tongue to the cat
Donner sa langue au chat
Meaning: To give up

To come in like a hair in the soup
Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe
Meaning: To enter a situation at the worst time

To have bread on the cutting board
Avoir du pain sur la planchet
Meaning: We’ve got work to do

Show more
Show less

Spanish Business Jargon

Smash the file
Dar carpetazo
Meaning: to put a project to one side

Drain the lump
Escurrir el bulto
Meaning: shifting responsibility to someone else

Show more
Show less

Australian Business Jargon

Fair suck of the sauce bottle
Meaning: wishing to be treated fairly

Show more
Show less

Greek Business Jargon

The feet revolted and want to hit the head
Τα πόδια επαναστάτησαν και θέλουν να χτυπήσουν το κεφάλι
Meaning: denouncing authority

Where are you going, barefoot on thorn?
Πού πηγαίνεις, ξυπόλητος στα αγκάθια;
Meaning: why are you taking on such a difficult task?

Show more
Show less

Indonesian Business Jargon

Keeping father happy
Asal bapak senang
Meaning: hiding bad news from the boss

Rubber time
Jam karet
Meaning: flexible timing

Show more
Show less