Updated Office Jargon
Here are some modern jargon examples, supposedly from the book
"Jargon Watch", published by Wired magazine. I have gotten
slightly different sets of these at least 6 times. This is a combination.
- The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly
inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
- Alpha Geek:
- The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work
group. "Ask Larry, he's the alpha geek around here."
- The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement
by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
- Astroturf Campaign:
- A fake grass-roots political campaign. Posted in RISKS Digest as a potential
future problem in net-based "issue" campaigning, in which massive phony mailings
are easier than ever. (see Microsoft's PR attempt at this early in the
monopoly court case. They were going to pay columnists and others to write for
a country-wide, pro-MS 'grass-roots' campaign... got caught at it though,
- Barney Page:
- Web page designed to capitalize on a current trend (such as Barney-bashing).
"Have you seen the new O.J. Simpson Barney page?"
- Putting up an emotional shield just as a relationship enters that intimate,
vulnerable stage. Refers to the retractable armor covering the Batmobile.
- The brief seizure people sometimes suffer when their beepers go off,
especially in vibrator mode. Characterized by physical spasms, goofy facial
expressions, and stopping speech in mid-sentence.
- Techie euphemism for using the toilet.
- (alternative to mukraking) - A new form of Net-based investigative journalism.
Becoming very popular with as journalists from major magazines and dailies
troll the Net fishing for breaking stories.
- Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project
failed and who was responsible.
- Blowing your buffer:
- Losing one's train of thought. Occurs when the person you're speaking with
won't let you get a word in edgewise or has just said something so astonishing
that your train gets derailed. "Damn, I just blew my buffer!"
- Body Nazis:
- Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone
who doesn't work out excessively.
- A unit of stupidity. "Is it just me, or is there always a high bozon count in Rupert's posts?"
- Brain Fart:
- A byproduct of a bloated mind producing information effortlessly. A burst
of useful information. "I know you're busy on the Microsoft story, but can
you give us a brain fart on the Mitnik bust?" Variation of old hacker
slang that had more negative connotations.
- When computer users get together and discuss things that noncomputer users
don't understand. When the byte-bonded start playing on a computer during a
noncomputer-related social event, they are "geeking out."
- CGI Joe:
- A hard-core CGI script programmer with all the social skills and charisma
of a plastic action figure.
- Chainsaw consultant:
- An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the
top brass with clean hands.
- Chips and Salsa:
- Chips = hardware, salsa = software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the
problem's in your chips or your salsa."
- A section of computer code that is forever being rewritten or changed.
Also can describe text documents. Writings produced by committee are rife with churn.
- Circling the Drain:
- Medical term for a patient near death who refuses to give up the ghost. Used
generally to describe projects that have no more life in them but refuse to die.
"That disk conversion project has been circling the drain for years."
- CLM (Career-Limiting Move):
- Used among microserfs to describe an ill-advised activity. Trashing your
boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.
- Cobweb Site:
- A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated for a long time. A dead web
- A badly written or profoundly useless Java applet. "I just wasted 10 minutes
downloading this stinkin' crapplet!"
- Critical Mess:
- An unstable stage in a software project's life when any single change or bug
fix can result in two or more new bugs. Continued development at this stage leads
to an exponential increase in the number of bugs.
- Crop Dusting:
- Surreptitious flatulence while passing thru a cube farm, or
any other public place, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust this
often leads to PRAIRIE DOGGING.
- AOL cybercop-speak for an immature user who posts vulgarity in a public forum.
"You've got a cusskiddie in the SNES versus Genesis folder."
- Cube farm:
- An office filled with cubicles.
- Dancing Baloney:
- Little animated GIFs and other Web F/X that are useless and serve simply to
impress clients. "This page is kinda dull. Maybe a little dancing baloney
- A corporate euphemism for laying off workers.
- Dead Tree Edition:
- The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic
forms, as in: "The dead tree edition of the San Francisco Chronicle..."
- Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voice mail
of a Vice President at a downsizing computer firm: "You have
reached the number of a deinstalled vice president. Please dial
our main number and ask the operator for assistance. (See also
- Fear associated with entering a Home Depot because of how much money one
might spend. Electronics geeks experience Shackophobia.
- To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of
Dilbert, the geek-in-hell comic strip character. "I've been dilberted
again. The old man revised the specs for the fourth time this week."
- People who are in perfect alignment on an issue, am idea, or a belief system.
Allegedly coined by Rush Limbaugh to refer to his legion of faithful followers.
- Dorito Syndrome:
- Feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction triggered by addictive substances
that lack nutritional content. "I just spent six hours surfing the Web and
now I've got a bad case of Dorito Syndrome."
- Ego surfing:
- scanning the Net, databases, print media, and so on, looking for references
to one's own name.
- Elvis year:
- the peak year of something's popularity -- Barney the dinosaur's Elvis year
- Acronym for Empty Magnanimous Gesture. As in: "We think your idea is great
and would love to fund it, but [insert excuse here]."
- Mock HTML tags (<smile>, <smirk>) used in WWW-related e-mail and
newsgroups in place of ASCII emoticons. "<flame>Someone tell that jerk to
shut up, I'm sick of his vapid whining!</flame>."
- Exercise Bulimics:
- People who compulsively work out after eating and gauge their workout by how
many calories they need to burn off to remove the food they just ate. "Only 2,000
more minutes on the StairMaster to burn off that cherry pie."
- the excessive and self-congratulatory use of useless animation, usually on a web site.
- Flight Risk:
- Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company
or department soon.
- A gruesome job of editing a writer's work by a hurried editor. The frankenedited
piece is usually returned with a note asking the writer to suture it back together
and to breath life back into it (by the next morning).
- Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter
where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions.
"We were so lost in generica, I actually forgot what city we
- Corporate-speak for sleeping with your eyes open. A popular pastime at
conferences and early-morning meetings. "Didn't he notice that half the
room was glazing by the second session?"
- Going Postal:
- Euphemism for being totally stressed out, for losing it. Makes reference to
the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone
on shooting rampages.
- GOOD Job:
- A "Get-Out-Of-Debt" job. A well-paying job people take in order to pay off
their debts, one that they will quit as soon as they are solvent again.
- Graybar Land:
- The place you go while you're staring at a computer that's processing
something very slowly (while you watch the gray bar creep across the
screen). "I was in graybar land for what seemed like hours, thanks to that
- Gray Matter:
- Older, experienced business people hired by young entrepreneurial firms
looking to appear more reputable and established.
- Holy Wars:
- Perpetual BBS discussions that never die, the arguments never change, and no
one's opinions ever budge one iota. Holy wars are fought over abortion, gun control,
Mac versus PC, Windows versus DOS, whether it's ok to spank children, and how
much nudity to allow in the image areas of online services.
- Net acronym for In My Never Even Remotely Humble Opinion. Variant form of IMHO
(In My Humble Opinion) and IMNSHO (In My Not So Humble Opinion).
- Idea hamsters:
- people who always seem to have their idea generators running.
- Used to describe someone who moves through the a workday responding to a series
of interruptions rather than the work goals originally set.
- Inverse Vandalism:
- Making things because you can. "Why did you make MS-DOS?" "Because I could."
- Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying, but you find yourself
unable to stop watching them. Examples include the O.J. trials, Ally McBeal,
Monica Lewinsky, and Bill Clinton's Grand Jury testimony.
- It's a Feature:
- From the adage "It's not a bug, it's a feature." Used sarcastically to
describe an unpleasant experience that you wish to gloss over.
- LRF Support:
- An official-sounding computer feature that can be used to prank a salesperson
or a computer know-it-all. "Does this system come with LRF support?" (LRF stands
for Little Rubber Feet.)
- Keyboard Plaque:
- The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on computer keyboards.
"Are there any other terminals I can use? This one has a bad case of
- Midair Passenger Exchange:
- Grim air-traffic-controller-speak for a head-on collision. Midair passenger
exchanges are quickly followed by "aluminum rain."
- Mouse potato:
- The on-line, wired generation's answer to the Couch Potato.
- NIMQ (pronounced "nihm-kyoo"):
- Acronym for "Not in My Queue." Said in response to suggestions to take on additional
tasks or projects when you're already overwhelmed. Similar to the more common "It's not my job."
- Non-Linear Behavior or NLB:
- (from Chaos Theory) - Used to describe emotional or irrational flaming on the Net.
"That gun-control topic is overwhelmed by NLB."
- (No Response Necessary) - A proposed e-mail conversation to prevent endless back-and-forth
acknowledgements: "Thanks for the info." "You're welcome ... hope it helps." "I hope so too.
Thanks." By putting NRN at the bottom of your mail, you absolve the reader from having to
reply, thus saving precious e-mail time.
- Nickname for AOL's less-than-full-featured Web browser.
- that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize you've just made a big
- Open-Collar Workers:
- People who work at home or telecommute.
- Indoor pay-to-play kid parks such as Discovery Zone. Substitute for the now mostly
extinct public playgrounds that previous generations used for free.
- Tech support shorthand for "Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard."
(Techies are a frustrated, often arrogant lot. They've submitted numerous
acronyms and terms that poke fun at the clueless users who call them up
with frighteningly stupid questions. Another variation on the above is
ID10T: "This guy has an ID-Ten-T on his system.")
- Percussive Maintenance:
- The fine art of whacking the crud out of an electronic device to get it to
- To quit unexpectedly, as in "my cellular phone just perot'ed."
- Power Luser:
- Computer user with the uncanny ability to screw things up so bad that either the
damage is irrevocable or restoring from the last back-up is the only hope.
- Prairie Dogging:
- When someone yells or drops something loudly in a "cube farm" (an office
full of cubicles) and everyone's heads pop up over the walls to see what's
- Salmon Day:
- The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get
screwed in the end.
- Seagull Manager:
- A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, "poops" over everything and
- Send Storm:
- A deluge of private chat messages while one is trying to do something else online.
"Sorry, I'm currently the victim of a send storm. I'll be with you in a moment."
On AOL, this is called "being IMed to death" (IM stands for Instant Message,
AOL's private chat feature).
- Stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies
turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
- Square-headed Girlfriend:
- Another word for a computer. The victim of a square-headed girlfriend is a
- Squirt The Bird:
- To transmit a signal up to a satellite. "Crew and talent are ready. What
time do we squirt the bird?"
- Starter Marriage:
- A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.
- Stress puppy:
- a person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.
- Swiped Out:
- An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn
away from extensive use.
- Telephone Number Salary:
- A salary (or project budget) that has seven digits.
- Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.
- People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs.
"We had about three serious students in the class; the rest were tourists."
- A sexual relation of dubious standing. "This is Dale, my...um...friend..."
- Under Mouse Arrest:
- Getting busted for violating an on-line service's rule of conduct.
"Sorry I couldn't get back to you. AOL put me under mouse arrest."
- Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voicemail of a vice president at a
downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of an uninstalled
vice president. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for
assistance." See also Decruitment.
- Value-Subtracted Reseller:
- A company that buys components from other companies and puts them together
in a system that's less than the sum of its parts. Opposite of value-added reseller.
- Vulcan Nerve Pinch:
- The taxing hand position required to reach all of the appropriate keys for
certain commands. For instance, the warm boot for a Mac II involves
simultaneously pressing the Control key, the Command key, the Return key
and the Power On key.
- Well Off Older Folks
- World Wide Wait:
- The real meaning of WWW
- Xerox Subsidy:
- Euphenism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
- Yuppie Food Stamps:
- The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when
trying to split the bill after a meal: "We all owe $8 each, but all
anybody's got is yuppie food stamps."
- Someone who is clueless, from the World Wide Web error message "404 Not
Found", meaning the requested document couldn't be located -- Don't bother
asking him, he's 404.
If these don't help you figure out what the heck your co-worker
just said (or meant), you might try the
Dictionary of Management Jargon,