Buzzword Wankwords and other ‘Toppers’

We’re all guilty of using the occasional buzzword/wankword cliché at work…
Having watched numerous (mainly American) movies and TV shows about ‘big business’ some of them probably sounded cool first time around.

But let’s be honest… keep using these words and phrases and you will seriously hurt your credibility.

Known as ‘toppers’ (because you’re topping the other person) they’re annoying, confusing and often meaningless — and when you’re communicating with busy people in the business world, they don’t have the time to decipher your stupid TV BS.

“These days, you need to avoid business jargon and be clear in order to get your point across,” says Sarah Ball-Palsi, president of the Talk English Proper Society.

She says most clichés were once a fresh, creative way of expressing a popular thought or common idea: “But because of excessive use, each phrase has lost its originality, impact, and even meaning – much like Shakespeare. Does anyone really know what the f**k he’s on about?”

Here are Sarah’s favourite overused business wankwords, and how to replace them with what you really mean:

“110%” (or any percentage above 100%)

“Obviously this means just going that extra mile (itself a wanky phrase) but it has no logical, mathematical sense because percentages themselves can be meaningless if there’s no base figure to judge it on. Just say ‘try harder you stupid f**ker or we’ll get sacked.”

“Drink it don’t think it”

“Do you really want to refer end of the world suicide cults?” Ball-Palsi asks. “If not, say what you really mean. Either, “I agree and give you my full support,” meaning “For f**k sake, this is bollocks
but we’ll have to do it.”

“It is what it is.”

”Is what what is?” says Ball-Palsi. Not only can this phrase sound flippant and meh, but what is “it?” A situation? A decision? A dog’s cock? Instead say, “We can’t change the fact that… etc, therefore, I recommend…” or alternatively “this is a load of bull**it but let’s get on with it.”

“Do more with less.”

“This wankword is vague at best,” says Ball-Palsi. “Do more of what with less of what? Shagging women with my miniscule penis?”

At it’s worst, this phrase is a corporate insult for, ‘Do more work with less tools,’ as though the poor twat is not already doing so!”

Instead, be specific, make your argument, and say exactly what you mean. “Listen there’s no more cash. See what you can do and we’ll get out of it somehow.”

“Tee it up.” 

This for golf wankers and if you’re one of them, still avoid it. Instead say, “Bob will now show us some f**king pie chart or some such to fully explain the shit we’re in.”

“Take it offline.”

“What does ‘offline’ mean?” asks Ball-Palsi. “Not on the internet?”

Be clear about your intended action:  “Hey, I’ll send you a follow-up email with those details by noon tomorrow.” Or ““Listen c**t, be outside at 5pm and don’t expect a f**king kiss”

“Open the kimono.” 

“Do you really want to expose your bell-end or muff  to the office whilst in-expertly wearing a traditional Japanese robe?”

“Replace this f**king odd and tasteless expression with words you actually mean,” Ball-Palsi suggests. Something like “What the f**k are you talking about, you tit?”

“Take it to the next level.”

“Are playing f**king Tetris?” asks Ball-Palsi. “ Or are you referring to specific, measurable performance levels, which are familiar to the listener? “

Instead say, “Listen, we need to sell 30% more this year or your next level will be down the dole office”

“It’s a paradigm shift.”

“What twat can even pronounce this word, never mind understand it?” This term is overused corporate jargon from the 1890s. Instead say, “big f**king changes,” or “massive f**k-up.”

“Low-hanging fruit.”

“Are you talking about your unshaved monkey testicles?”

While it’s quite amusingly descriptive, don’t refer to a prospect or customer as ‘fruit’ ready to be effortlessly picked,” says Ball-Palsi. “Instead say, “These f**king muppets will buy anything as
long as we market it as a time-saver” etc.

“Let’s circle back.” 

“Are you Clint Eastwood on horseback being chased by the sheriff’s posse through a valley? No? Well stop talking like the f**king cowboy you probably are. Be cool and just “Let’s discuss this issue in the pub later. And it’s YOUR round.”

“Bite the bullet.”

“Sounds a bit gay this one,” says Ball-Palsi.  “Even though soldiers bit a bullet during the war to distract them from the pain,” she explains. “Instead, say it clearly: ‘Make a tough decision,’ or ‘Take it up the ass, motherf**ker.’ (which also sounds a bit gay actually)…

“Run it up the flagpole.”

“What f**king flagpole?” Ball-Palsi says this old number has been around since the 1950s when most offices had a flagpole.

“These days, most offices have a microwave so Instead be cool and make up a new one like ‘Stick it in the f**king oven and see if it burns”  or just say, ‘Let’s pitch this bollocks and see if anyone believes it.'”

“At the end of the day.”

Unless you’re speaking about an actual event occurring at 6 p.m., say, “Finally,” or “Ultimately,” or “When everything else has been taken into consideration.” Or just “Get it f**king ready by 6 p.m. you lazy c**t.”

“Think outside the box.”

The king of all buzzword/wankwords…  “What f**king box? The one I keep my stash in?”

“This effort is as 1970s as hippies and flares,” explains Ball-Palsi. “Youngster unfamiliar with this one are likely to think you mean your arsehole. Instead say, “Think differently,” or “Google the internet and get me the f**king answer you twat.”

“Peel back the layers of the onion.”

“Listen Jamie Oliver, no twat’s interested in your cooking techniques – or foreskin,” says Ball-Palsi.

The meaning of this predictable wankword is more clearly expressed by saying, “Please let’s take a closer look.” So just say that  or “Open your eyes you dick. You’ve made a total c**t of it.”

Then stick an actual peeled onion in his/her stupid face.

“Limited bandwidth.” 

“Are you using a 1960s wireless that only picks up Radio Luxemburg on long-wave? Then avoid using this technical computing term to tell someone you’re too busy to help. Instead say, “I’m swamped mate” or even just a simple “F**k off” can be quite effective.


“I don’t even know what this bollocks means,” says Ball-Palsi. “Something like with just a little cooperation, we can make it through as a team.”

“Just say “Give me a f**king hand you arsehole and maybe we can get to the pub a bit quicker.”

Every time you speak or write you have an opportunity to express an idea, suggestion, or insight that is distinctively your own, Ball-Palsi says.

“It may be easier and quicker to fill your speech with familiar buzzword wankwords, but, clarity is the goal. You’ll gain more credibility and engage with listeners more effectively when you say what you mean in your own words – you c**t.”