The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary: C-words

Do you wonder where your co-workers picked up all the ridiculous things they say? From fresh-faced interns to top management, everyone drops one of these gems occasionally. We can only hope that you're not here to actually add buzzwords to your vocabulary.

C-level [adj.]Describes the people at the top of a company that get fancy 'C' titles such as C.E.O., C.F.O., C.O.O.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cabinet condom [n.]Tape applied to the button of a filing cabinet to prevent it from being locked (since the key has long since disappeared.)Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cadence [n.]A far too poetic way to describe how often a scheduled event is repeated. "If we just hit the right cadence on our sprint meetings…"
Suggested by brat.
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Cafeteria plan [n.]A package of benefits that allows the employee to make choices.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter


Calendar tickler [n.]A calendar entry with a reminder alarm. Usually sent as an Outlook meeting request."Put a tickler on my calendar so I won't forget to join the call."
Suggested by Erika S.
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Call on the carpet [v.]To discipline.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Can I stir fry an idea in your think-wok? [exp.]Could I have your opinion on this issue?Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cannibalize [v.]To launch a new product that takes market share away from one's own established products.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Capsizing [v.]Laying-off employees (downsizing) to the point where an organization can no longer function.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Captive lunch [n.]When management wheels in the sandwiches at 12pm, just when you thought you could escape to run a few errands.
Suggested by Tom T.
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Care [n.]Synonym for 'concern'. Used by managers who don't want to admit to having concerns. "I have a care about this budget decrease."
Suggested by NoTable.
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Career Limiting Move (CLM) [n.]An action or comment that could hinder the future progression of one's career.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Career suicide [n.]An action that causes you to lose both your current job, and any chance you'll find another one in your field. "If you blow the whistle on this operation, it'll be career suicide."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Carpool tunnel syndrome [n.]The semi-conscious state that is the result of repeated early morning ride sharing.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Carrots and sticks [n.]Incentives and punishments. "If you want to motivate these clowns, try less carrot and more stick."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Carte blanche [exp.]The freedom to make any and all decisions.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cascade [v.]Disseminate, for people who aren't comfortable saying the word disseminate.
Suggested by Robin G.
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CFO [n.]Chief Finagle Officer. The person who's responsible for manipulating a company's finances to avoid legal penalties.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Chainsaw consultant [n.]An individual brought in to do management's dirty work at lay-off time.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Change agent [n.]A clever title for a consultant (or employee) who sees himself as a catalyst for improvement. Often involves encouraging the adoption of new technologies.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Change management [v.]The act of guiding a company through internal or external changes.
Suggested by Clive N
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Charm school [n.]A derogatory term for new manager training. "After the harassment case, my boss was shipped off to charm school."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Chartists [n.]Market analysts who have made a career of graphing financial data.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Chasing butterflies [v.]A state of distraction experienced by those who are easily distracted. "Jim never finishes anything; he's off CB again."
Suggested by Brian.
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Chasing down smokestacks [exp.]Placing sales calls to industrial companies.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Checked Eskimo [v.]When a clearly unqualified individual lands a job or promotion they should have had no chance at getting, that person must have "Checked Eskimo" on the application.
Suggested by David.
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Cheese chew [v.]Performing an unwelcome chore to please another.
Suggested by Rob T.
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Chicken shop [n.]A department or company that produces substandard work. "Their parts had a 20% scrap rate last quarter. I'm never dealing with that chicken shop again."
Suggested by Rod SW.
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Chime in [v.]A timid little way of indicating that you have a point to make. "Can I just chime in on that one?" Alternative: Just start talking.
Suggested by Jerry P.
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Chinese fire drill [n.]A project or meeting that is characterized by frantic confusion.
Suggested by Jacada.
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Chinese wall [exp.]Procedures to guard information.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Circle-back [v.]Revisiting an issue after it has been addressed. Using this one habitually could lead you to say something like, "I'm heading to lunch now, but we'll circle-back later."
Suggested by Randi
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Circular file [n.]The garbage can. "Toss that company newsletter in the circular file for me."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Circular firing squad [n.]A dysfunctional group that's on the verge of collapse because of infighting and bickering.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cleans up well [adj.]Describes a technician or software developer who can actually speak with the customer without embarrassing the company.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Clock tower attrition [n.]Rapid-fire job cuts at the hands of an overzealous manager.
Suggested by kramtronix.
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Clocksucker [n.]A completely unproductive employee; a waste of company money.
Suggested by Lee.
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Close of play [n.]The deadline for the submission of an order or application, as spoken in parts of the world where cricket lingo and business jargon are equally familiar.
Suggested by Bill F.
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Coal face [n.]The department that actually works to deliver products and interact with clients. "Give me an opinion from someone at the coal face."
Suggested by Joel
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COB [n.]Close Of Business. That magic moment that comes but once each day -- quitting time.
Suggested by our spies at a Fortune 100.
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Cold towel [n.]To put on hold. "Let's cold towel your feedback until you get back next week."
Suggested by Gordon.
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Color outside the lines [v.]To ignore established rules / limits of behavior. Pseudo-profound boss says, "The lines haven't changed, your coloring has."
Suggested by Catherine
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Column-shaking [v.]Threatening to uproot the traditions (or bad habits) of a company, usually with new and unconventional ideas.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Come to Jesus meeting [n.]A term of southern American origin that refers to a serious meeting with an individual or team. These meetings often involve ultimatums for performance improvement.
Suggested by aclassicgirl.
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Commonplate [v.]To present a topic for consideration, so that all members of a group have the same information (ostensibly, as if everyone were eating from a 'common plate'). "Now that I've commonplated the issue, can we come to a reasonable decision?"Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Community property [n.]The shared assets of a married couple.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Comp [adj.]The cool way to say complimentary.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Compliment sandwich [n.]A pointed criticism delivered between two compliments to dull the blow. Build them up, tear them down, then leave on a positive note.
Suggested by Jeff B.
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Cone of Silence [n.]Indicates a private, confidential conversation. "I have something important to share with you. Can we put on the Cone of Silence?"
Suggested by Jonathon T.
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Connectivity [n.]The extent of one's professional network. "The right equity partner will deliver on their connectivity from day zero."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Contemplation [n.]Thought or group consensus. "Just spoke with management and the contemplation is that we're behind schedule."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Contraction [n.]Widespread layoffs. "In order to prepare the organization for sale, all employees should brace for further contraction."
Suggested by Elizabeth M.
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Contrarian [n.]An investor who makes decisions in opposition to mainstream ideas.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cook the books [v.]A fraudulent attempt to falsify company records.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cookie-cutter [adj.]A generic person, product or approach. "I'm so tired of these cookie-cutter business grads. When are we going to find someone with a brain in their head?"Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cooperative competition [n.]A classic management oxymoron presumably referring to mutual benefits experienced by two competing firms.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Coopetition [n.]The ruthless struggle between an organization's departments for limited budget dollars, staff and equipment, despite the fact that everyone involved should be supporting the overall mission. Symptoms include the hoarding of copy paper, conference room time-slots, and the IT guy.
Suggested by Aidan.
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Core competencies [n.]A company's most successful skills and activities. Often leveraged.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Corporate memory [n.]The entire set of company files and records. "Never in corporate memory has the board been so disrespected."
Suggested by Eimear B.
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Cost containment [n.]An attempt to reduce expenditures.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Counterposing [v.]When ground-level staff outwit management by using more jargon, more pointless questions, and more vague commitments than their superiors.
Suggested by Captn Freedom.
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Covered-off [adj.]Describes something that has been completed or otherwise taken care of. "Let's make sure those requirements are covered-off."
Suggested by Garry.
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Cowboy [n.]A worker that is difficult to supervise.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
CPB [v.]Conducting Personal Business. Using company resources and time for things that aren't work-related (there's a good chance you're doing it right now).Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
CPS [n.]Cheap Plastic S***. Promotional items (often made of plastic) distributed through advertising, corporate gifts, trade shows, or other give-away programs.
Suggested by Jocelyn S.
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Craft [n.]An insufferable way to refer to your line of work. "First of all, data entry is not a craft. And you're really not much of a honer."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Createalytics [n.]The art of manipulating data to support a preconceived decision.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Creative [n.]An art or design asset. "Call the vendor and push a rework on the creative."
Suggested by Jamie
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Critical mass [n.]1) The point reached by a new idea or product just prior to explosive market growth.
2) The point when an issue can no longer be avoided and must be addressed immediately.
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Criticality [n.]An extreme level of importance. Whatever your colleague meant, there's a good chance she's not talking about a nuclear accident. "I cannot emphasize the criticality of this issue enough."
Suggested by Shane H.
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Cronyism [n.]Playing favourites among close associates.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cross sabers [v.]To have a conflict.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cross-pollination [n.]The generation of ideas that can occur when individuals from diverse backgrounds are brought together. "By removing your cubicle walls, we hope to cultivate the opportunity for cross-pollination."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cross-training [v.]Learning a colleague's job so you can perform it, in addition to your own, when they disappear during vacation, maternity leave, or the latest round of layoffs.
Suggested by Isabella.
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Cubicle vultures [n.]Those who gather office supplies from the desk of a fired co-woker.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Customer intimacy [n.]A measure of how well a company knows its client base. Protip: Never say "customer intimacy" in front of the customer.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cut the mustard [exp.]To perform adequately.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
CYA [v.]Cover Your Ass. To exercise caution to avoid blame. "You better CYA on this one. We can't afford the bad press."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cybernate [v.]To control via a computer.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Cyberslacking [v.]Wasting company time by casually browsing the Internet or instant messaging.
Suggested by Mike.
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Cycle [n.]An employee's time, broken down into sections. "I'll have to check if she has any available cycles for this task."
Suggested by Renee.
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Have one to add? Click here to suggest a word.