CC: ALL. RE: Office jargon. FYI

It’s important that those of you in the work force are aware of proper formal office terminology so that you’ll be an informed and productive employee for the long term, or at least until Tuesday when you get laid off.

In a recent British study, workers were surveyed about the most annoying office jargon. Coming in at No. 1 one was the phrase “at the end of the day.” This was particularly unsettling to new employees who heard it in response to their question, “When are bathroom breaks allowed?”

The phrase “at the end of the day” is a figurative idiom meaning “after everything else has been taken into consideration.”


“Well you can blame the fax machine for the choking incident, but at the end of the day, Toby should have made sure his tie was out of the way before hitting the send button.”

There are other terms that are only used in an office setting. During a meeting you may hear the following: “Let’s table that for now and revisit it later.”  This is just a nice way to say your idea sucks and we’re going to completely ignore it.


“Thank you for that suggestion, Wendy. Requiring everyone in the office to wear a sombrero each Friday is an interesting idea, but let’s table that for now and revisit it later.”

Then there’s the common business phrase “touch base,” as in, “Let’s touch base next week.” It’s extremely important that new hires understand its actual meaning, otherwise there may be some communication issues. Especially if you have an employee whose last name is “Base.”

“Give 110 percent” is another term that bothers a lot of people.

Boss: “Richard, we need you to give 110 percent on this project.”

Richard: “OK. Then can I assume my next paycheck will be 110 percent of normal?”

Boss: “Uh, let’s table that for now and revisit it later.”

The term: “FYI” is OK, so long as it’s used in the proper professional context. Like, for example, showing new people around the office:

Correct: “Just an FYI, you’ll need to staple the invoice and attach two copies.”

Wrong: “Just an FYI, Doris in accounting has crabs.”

“Dovetail” is a word often brought up in meetings. It means to “combine or interlock into a unified whole.”


“And just to dovetail on that previous point;  I completely agree that Jeremy should not be allowed to bring a live wolverine into his cubicle.”

Jargon like “spitballing” and “brainstorming” are words you’ll hear when management needs a fancy way to justify all the time they waste making horrible decisions.

Boss: “Hey, gang. In our last brainstorming session, those of us on the management team spitballed some cost-cutting measures, and we’ve decided that the company will begin charging employees for the use of toilet paper.”

The term “paradigm shift” is popular among the MBA crowd. You know the type. They have 23 years of business schooling and four degrees, but they couldn’t sell cheap vodka to an alcoholic. So in case you hear this, “paradigm shift” means “a dramatic change in methodology or practice.”


“In light of the unfortunate incident last week in which Daniel from sales tragically lost his left arm, we’ve made a paradigm shift in the employee manual to specifically prohibit any type of horseplay near the paper cutter.”

The acronym ASAP stands for As Soon As Possible. As in: “I need these faxed to the Denver office ASAP!” Or, “Come here ASAP and help me get all this toner ink out of Sandy’s hair.”

The words “attached” “CC” “per” “RE” and “aforementioned” are used in e-mails when you want to appear to be smarter than you actually are:

“CC: All department heads.

RE: Follow-up to the quarterly meeting.

Per our discussion this morning, attached you will find the previously aforementioned video I downloaded off of YouTube showing the Chihuahua having intimate relations with a stuffed animal.”

Of course, there are plenty more examples of annoying office jargon. You have some suggestions you’d like to offer?

Great! But let’s just table that for now and revisit it later.

E-mail Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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