The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary: S-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.

Sacred cow [n.]A program or product that may be unprofitable, but cannot be questioned.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sacrifice [v.]Yet another gentle name for firing people. "We'll have to sacrifice a few customer service positions."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Safe harbour [n.]The office bathroom. Borrowed from nautical terminology, this refers to how it is often the only place one can find a moment of peace at work.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Salt mine [n.]Menial work.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter


Sandbag [v.]1) An unethical attack.
2) A tactic used by salespeople in which closing is purposely delayed into another time period (such as the next month), to improve their overall commission.
Suggested by Ryan.
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Sausage and the sizzle [AUS-exp.]A sales term for the extra effort required to close a deal. "John you've got the sausage, but where's the sizzle?"
Suggested by Guy from Melbourne.
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Scab [n.]A union term for undesirables such as strikebreakers and non-union employees.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Scarlet letter [n.]A symbol of shame.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Scooby Snacks [n.]Token compensation. "The gift certificates they gave us instead of a Christmas bonus were total scooby snacks."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Scope creep [n.]The tendency of a project's purpose to expand to suit the ambitions of the pushiest stakeholder.
Suggested by Ellen B.
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Screw the pooch [v.]To avoid doing anything productive. "Are you going to sit there and screw the pooch all day?"
Suggested by Natalie R.
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Scrub [n.]An entry-level employee. Usually replaceable.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Scuttlebutt [n.]Gossip or rumours.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sea legs [n.]The point when a new arrangement becomes stable and comfortable. "We're still establishing our freemium sea legs…"Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Seamless [adj.]Describes a system so well integrated that it seems like a contiguous whole. Even if it's all paperclips and chewing gum inside.
Suggested by Robert S.
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Second .coming [n.]The re-emergance of Internet business as a viable way to make money.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Security theater [n.]A very visible display of security to compensate for a true lack of it.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sense-checking [v.]The formalized process of ensuring that something is reasonable, or 'makes sense.'
Suggested by Simon H.
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Serial entrepreneur [n.]A person who starts several (not necessarily successful) business ventures.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Serving suggestion [n.]A recommended quantity (non food-related). "Hit me with your serving suggestion on the social media ad buy."
Suggested by B. Potter.
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Shanghaied [adj.]1. Forced to work a job on a ship overseas.
2. Forced to watch your job as it's shipped overseas (to China).
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Sheep dip [n.]A tedious corporate briefing where attendance is mandatory & recorded for all employees. "I can't handle another sheep dip today."
Suggested by Paul K.
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Sheep it [v.]To follow a ridiculous company policy without complaint.
Suggested by Kevin.
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Shelfware [n.]Purchased or developed software that is never actually used. "150 grand later and all we've got to show for it is a fancy piece of shelfware."
Suggested by Gordon M.
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Shield time [n.]The time spent in a vehicle (behind a windshield) with a coworker or boss.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Shiny objects [n.]A derogatory reference used by bitter salespeople when they lose a prospect to the 'product of the week.' "These idiots don't know what they want, they're just out there chasing shiny objects".
Suggested by Shawn M.
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Shirt size [n.]The quantity of effort required. "I need a ballpark shirt size on this contract so I can schedule you clowns." Protip: It probably won't be small.
Suggested by Geraldo.
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Shoot the puppy [v.]To take an unpopular action. "We have to downsize the department, but I don't want to be the one to shoot the puppy this time."
Suggested by Graham.
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Shotgun approach [n.]A wide, untargeted strategy.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Shoulder tap [n.]An informal request made in passing. A good reason to avoid the boss in the elevator, hallway, kitchen, parking lot, and bathroom AKA shoulder tap central.
Suggested by Fuehrer.
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Show pony [n.]Someone who superficially presents well but lacks real depth. "The conference floor was nothing but show ponies and booth babes."
Suggested by Tony.
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Shrink [n.]Retail losses from shoplifters.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sidebar [n.]A whispered conversation between co-workers during a meeting or presentation. "Don't let me interrupt your little sidebar ladies, but we have 30 more slides to get through here."
Suggested by Trickyn.
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Sideways [adv.]The direction of failure. "If this launch goes sideways, they'll liquidate the entire department."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Signature basis [n.]Solely based on one's name and reputation.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Silo [n.]The conceptual area to which one's work is confined. "Don't worry, customer service is outside your silo."
Suggested by Lee K.
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Silver bullet [n.]An infallible business solution.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Silver ceiling [n.]The barrier to promotion that many older employees face.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Simmer [v.]To allow time for considering and contemplating a topic, whether to let emotional reactions cool down or to encourage new ideas. "Give them a week to simmer on the new policy before requesting feedback."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Single pane of glass [n.]A marketing claim that everything can be monitored and controlled from one display. "Networking perfection. On a SPOG."
Suggested by Ray B.
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Skiing off-piste [v.]Completing a common task in an unconventional manner, usually at great personal risk if it all goes wrong.
Suggested by Dangerous Pete
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Skills ecosystem [n.]The total collection of individual team-members' skills, which are hoped to be mutually supportive. Usually refers to skills that are someone else's problem for providing or training.
Suggested by Darren F.
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Skillset [n.]A collection of abilities, commonly matched to a set of requirements. Even more commonly embellished by job-seekers.
Suggested by David.
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Skip-level meeting [n.]When a member of senior management meets with low-level workers directly to see who's brave enough to ask a question (or offer dirt on their supervisors).
Suggested by Kurt.
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Skull session [n.]A collaborative meeting to generate new ideas (a brainstorm by any other name…). "Skull session. My office. Oh-nine-hundred."
Suggested by Brendan
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Slave trader [n.]An affectionate term for the human resources crowd.
Suggested by BitHacker.
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Sledule [n.]A project schedule that continually slides to the right due to poor planning and underestimated tasks.
Suggested by Kenny B.
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Small cap [adj.]Insignificant or low priority. "You're a small cap man and you think small cap."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
SME [n.]Subject Matter Expert. The resident guru for a given topic. "I can't remember how to work this damn photocopier. Who's the SME for this machine?"
Suggested by our spies at a Fortune 100.
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Smell test [n.]A disgusting little term for using common sense to make a quick judgment. Anyone else cringe every time you see it in print?Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Smirting [v.]Taking the opportunity to flirt with co-workers while huddled together for an outdoor cigarette break.
Suggested by John I.
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Socialize [v.]To facilitate group discussions about an issue. "Let's give them time to socialize the new material with their teams."
Suggested by Asiya.
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Soft pedal [v.]To give a false impression that progress is being made."We soft pedaled the client until we had more time available."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Soundbites [n.]Key points delivered in small amounts. "Stop running your mouth and just give me the soundbites."
Suggested by Ronnie I.
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Soup to nuts [exp.]From the start to the end of a project, in reference to the first and last courses of a formal meal. "How can we get from soup to nuts on this one?"
Suggested by Jonathan S.
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Space [n.]A consultant's designated area of expertise or focus. The term is normally used with some form of the verb 'play.' "Our SME plays in the outsourcing space."
Suggested by w3.
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Space [n.]A really douchey way to refer to a market or industry. "We're looking at full saturation in the tablet space by Q3."
Suggested by Corinne F.
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Speaker-phone voice [n.]The characteristic volume level that people feel they must use when on speaker-phone.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Speaks to [adj.]1) Evokes: "This image speaks to the bravery of the troops."
2) Represents: "This bold logo speaks to the fact that we're bold."
Suggested by Mike T.
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Special Projects [n.]Tasks given to formerly favored executives that have screwed up. Lets them pretend to have a real job while looking for a new position.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Special sauce [n.]Anything of a proprietary nature.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Spend [n.]An amount of money paid out. "What was our total ad spend last month." ...And I'm spent.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Spitball [v.]1) To estimate.
2) To conceive an idea; brainstorm. "Let's run through your sales deck and spitball a new angle."
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SPOC [n.]Single Point Of Contact. An acronym that recognizes the efficiency found in appointing one person to speak for a group. "I'll have my SPOC get in touch with your SPOC."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Spokesweasel [n.]A public relations agent. He usually possesses a remarkable gift for spin.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Squeeze the sponge [v.]To extract every last bit of knowledge that an employee gained during a company-funded training event. "Let's review your conference notes. I want each department head to sit down with you and squeeze the sponge."
Suggested by Jon F.
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SSSD [n.]Same Sh** Same Day. Working the third shift often means leaving at 6AM and returning the same calendar day at 10PM, only to encounter the SSSD.
Suggested by JC.
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Stakeholder management [v.]The art of acquiring enough opinions from people, groups, or leaders within a company to deflect blame if a project doesn't meet expectations and/or outright fails.
Suggested by Laurie R.
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Stakeholdering [v.]The process of seeking support, approval, or clients for an upcoming project. "I spent the entire Christmas party stakeholdering upper management on my Q1 initiatives."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stall nap [n.]A short, pants-optional sleep taken in the office bathroom. Watch out for the telling red forehead spot afterwards. See: Safe harbour.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Standing room only [exp.]Where buyers are led to believe there are many others interested in an item.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Starter marriage [n.]A brief first marriage ending in divorce.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Statistical massage [v.]To present numbers in a way that conveys a desired message.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stealth parenting [v.]Running errands for your kids after telling your boss that you have a business obligation.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stepford Worker [n.]An employee that has bought the corporate party line completely and become an unthinking clone. Surprisingly desirable in the business world.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stick to your knitting [v.]1) To focus on one's main areas of business, often at the expense of other departments.2) To be steadfast.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stick-around [n.]A meeting that takes place directly after another, in the same location. "We had an two hour stick-around after the project meeting yesterday."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Strap-on [v.]To try something. "Before you judge my idea, why don't you strap it on for a while."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Strategic incompetence [n.]Feigning an inability to complete a particularly boring or demeaning task.
Suggested by EC Nottus
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Strategic planning [n.]Pointless tautology used when the word 'planning' doesn't quite sound impressive enough by itself.
Suggested by Rob.
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Street, the [n.]The finance district of major economic centres.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stress puppy [n.]A person who is continuously anxious and lives for any sympathy gained from complaining about it.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Stretch assignment [n.]A project given to an employee that is beyond their current skill level. Neatly avoids the cost of an actual promotion.
Suggested by Robert
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Sunset [v.]To slowly retire a product line. "We need to sunset last year's model over the next two months."
Suggested by Johnny P.
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Sunshine enema [n.]The spin campaign given to the remaining shell-shocked, fear-crippled employees after massive layoffs in an attempt to boost morale (i.e. productivity).
Suggested by Tom T.
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Super [n.]Supervisor, for those who are too lazy to say the whole word.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Surface [v.]To raise an issue. "Don't forget to surface your concerns with the VPs."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Surplused [v.]Yet another way to describe being fired. "We surplused a few people last week." Good lord.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
SWAG [n.]Scientific Wild-Assed Guess. An estimate ostensibly supported by some kind of analysis, however fudged or misapplied. "We arrived at our conclusion using the SWAG method."
Suggested by David & Tom.
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Swampland in Florida/Arizona [n.]A sarcastic offer made in response to perceived gullibility/ignorance. "If you believe that, I've got some prime swampland in Florida for you..."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sweat equity (AKA swequity) [n.]An intangible asset earned by the hardworking, under-paid employees of small start-up companies. These individuals are often promised an eventual reward tied directly to the success of the enterprise. "I know I can't exercise the options until next year, but the 80-hour weeks are building swequity."Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Sweat the asset [v.]Getting the most out of your hard-working employee. "Our productivity systems ensure that you sweat the asset to the max."
Suggested by LW.
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Sweetheart deal [n.]An arrangement where existing clients receive more favorable terms than new clients. See also: Ponzi scheme.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter
Swim lane [n.]1) A visual element showing task assignments in a process diagram.
2) Field of responsibility.
"Listen, client management just isn't in my swim lane.
Suggested by Chad.
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Sympvertizing [n.]Advertising that attempts to sympathize and identify with the consumer.Share this term on FacebookShare this term on Twitter


Have one to add? Click here to suggest a word.