Bingo – why business words are like bell-bottoms

I’m sure we’ve all been subject to a torrent of cringe-worthy office clichés at some point in our working lives. I mean how often have you sat in a meeting and …

8th July 2008 at 9:01 am

I’m sure we’ve all been subject to a torrent of cringe-worthy office clichés at some point in our working lives. I mean how often have you sat in a meeting and heard someone utter one of these unforgivable words or phrases

‘Moving Forward’



‘Touch Base’

‘Close of Play / End of Play’

‘Blue sky thinking’

‘No idea is a bad idea’

‘Ball rolling’

And possibly my all time favourite most hated phrase ‘great stuff’! This is possibly the most heinous of all as it sounds so unsympathetic, insincere and like you haven’t really been paying attention. For example ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, great stuff let’s touch base on this by close of play to work out all the actionable points to get this moving forward.’ What??

Where did these phrases originate and how did they evolve into such exhausted clichés? Lucy Kellaway, started a campaign against office jargon recently. Unfortunately the dark side of office lingo was too strong for the force of articulate speach. She has admitted defeat by saying in her article on the BBC News website:

For the last few months I’ve been on a mission to rid the world of the phrase ‘going forward’. But now I see that the way forward is to admit defeat. This most horrid phrase is with us on a go-forward basis, like it or not.

She goes on to say that she reached this sad conclusion when listening to Farming Today and a man from the National Farmers’ Union uttered the phrase ‘going forward’ three times in the space of 28 seconds.

All in all words may be fashionable, but you really do need to know when your proverbial bell-bottoms should be consigned to your nearest Oxfam shop.  That’s another blog post done, so I’m off to challenge the restrictions of receptacle thinking …

Simon Lawrence

Simon is the founder and CEO of Information Arts one of the UK's leading business-to-business marketing consultancies set up in 2000. Simon has over 17 years experience within the industry and is widely regarded as a leading expert in businesses marketing to other businesses.

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  1. Benjamin says:

    Going forwards I’ll use some blue sky thinking to avoid all of these cliche phrases. We really need to better leverage the English language. Anyway, I’ll touch base before the end of play with some new phrases to get the ball rolling. 😉

  2. Bill D says:

    Great subject and great blog. If you ever watched the movie MASH it made fun of the military jargon of the day that was also meaningless. Such jargon appears to be a constant, only the words change to suit the times.

  3. Bingoforfun says:

    What about ‘silver bullet’ or ‘go big or go home’? Used in my old office all the time and made very little sense!

  4. […] my last blog post I wrote about the unforgivable use of so-called ‘buzzwords’ in the office. They drive us all […]

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