An A-Z of Modern Jargon

Yesterday a colleague who had been faced with a lot of long documents filled with confusing language came out with a great phrase:

I didn’t know where to start. So, I didn’t

There’s some science to this. Faced with choice overload and unfamiliar phrases one of our automatic responses is to shut things down and move onto something easier.

On Wednesday I was listening to Andy Hollingsworth of the Behavioural Insights Team talk about inertia being a big driver of our behaviour. How removing very small irritations from a process or communication can help people understand you.

It made me think about jargon and how we can unintentionally alienate people.

Defenders of jargon say it acts as necessary professional shorthand – it conveys complicated ideas succinctly. Used well, it does.

The danger comes from using it out of place, especially when dealing with the wider public. It can often distort or confuse.

I’m often guilty of this – words around innovation and design can be especially arcane – often dressing up a simple idea.

So I’ve put together a graphic of jargon and phrases that we could all do with using less often.


You might agree or disagree or want to add more – let me know!

7 responses to “An A-Z of Modern Jargon”

  1. Great list, Paul. My suggestion would be:
    Zero Sum Game – we should never have started this project

    1. And I tried so hard to think of a Z….

      1. Zumba – Lots of people wiggling and shaking their arms in the air whilst moving in different directions, oh yes in a co-ordinated way!

  2. We take any word misuse it to our own ends and it becomes a misnomer. Affordable Regeneration are the two that I cry over

  3. oh I missed out engage/involve/consult

  4. […] We need to bust myths. Slay Zombie Projects.  And wage war on jargon. […]

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