Jargon is a Grad’s Best Friend: Need to Know Phrases for New Employees

By Maria PianelliJargon

When you start a new job, you don’t have to move to China to have a foreign language forced upon you. The workforce, especially in the marketing world, is ripe with strange, somewhat clunky phrases, looking to be adopted and spewed to the next generation. At first, these doozies seem to color every other sentence uttered by co-workers, whimsical and impossible to ignore, abnormalities like “synergy” and “low-hanging fruit” and “nuances.”

It’s an epidemic.

‘Why speak in cliche?’ you ask.

‘Not me,’ you declare.

‘What does that even mean!?’ you whine to friends.

But like it or not, in a few short months, you’ll be spurting contagious corporate jargon as well. Until then we at The Inbetween have you covered. Next time an email is lacking a colorful filler phrase, try on one of these babies for size.


Used in a sentence: “You’ll be bottom-lining this presentation from start to finish.”

What it actually means:  A favorite of supervisors everywhere. If you’re assigned this gem, it means you’ll be managing or taking over a specific task or project.

Buttoned Up.

Used in a sentence: “Just want to make sure we’re buttoned up here!”

What it actually means: There’s a fundamental miscommunication here. Let’s reorganize so we’re on the same page.


Used in a sentence: “Try to avoid big buzzwords when writing that client messaging doc. The more specific we are, the better.”

What is actually means: Buzzword itself is a buzzword. It refers to trendy words and terms used to describe clients and their services. The more they’re used, the more they lose their meaning, so it’s best to avoid them if you want to stand out in a sea of media clutter. Common offenders include world class, delight customers, dynamic, and cutting edge.

Circle Back.

Used in a sentence: “Let me check in with the SXSW organizers and circle back with details on that panel submission.”

What it actually means: It’s not necessary to deal with this right now. We can discuss at a later date.


Used in a sentence: “I’ll have that deck on the Kardashian clan over to you by Monday!”

What is actually means: …it’s a fancy way of saying Powerpoint. And assembling one of these will destroy your life, just like in high school.

Deep Dive.

Used in a sentence: “In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of brony conventions.”

What it actually means: Dismiss all your exotic scuba diving imagery now. “Deep dive” is an way to spice up the fact that you’ll be outlining the inner workings of a specific topic in excruciating detail.

Do Some Digging.

Used in a sentence: “Let me do some digging into 90s Nostalgia Monthly and see if they’re a fit for this client byline.”

What it actually means: Unless you’re a private investigator, not as glamorous as it sounds. “Digging” simply means you’ll be spending the next few hours online cyber stalking journalists, researching conferences and reading your way through the last four issues of a publication.

Elevator Pitch.

Used in a sentence: “Let me hear your elevator pitch!”

What it actually means: Imagine you’re standing in a elevator with a prospect that knows absolutely nothing about your business. An elevator pitch refers to the 60 seconds and/or two sentences you have to summarize your mission.


Used in a sentence: “Wanted to flag that the deadline for registration for the Wine and Cheese Fest is June 30th.”

What it actually means: Calling attention to a particular detail or aspect of an email or written document.

Going Forward.

Used in a sentence: “Going forward, we’ll make sure that we don’t send any timely emails during The Bachelor.

What it actually means: Pretty self-explanatory. From this point on, you’ll proceed in a certain matter. Usually this is said acknowledging a change in operation.


Used in a sentence: “Our groundbreaking new technology will alert you whenever a new Beyonce GIF hits the Internet.”

What it actually means: A boastful, often presumptuous claim tagged onto product pitches and announcements that is in the same vein as innovation, cutting edge, visionary and best in class. Use with caution when pitching media or suffer “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” syndrome.


Used in a sentence: “Maria, can you share your insights on the latest dating app?”

What it actually means: One’s comprehensive understanding and perception of a topic. Sometimes comes in the form of an epiphany.


Used in a sentence: “Let’s discuss how we can best leverage the company blog.”

What it actually means: To put to maximum use; to utilize to your full advantage. A constant presence in the PR community.

Low-hanging Fruit.

Used in a sentence: “We should aim our sights on some low-hanging fruit, like Cilantro Lovers Weekly.”

What it actually means: Targets that are easily achievable and don’t require significant effort to obtain. Often refers to low-tier media. Seldom used outside internal meetings.

Moving Parts.

Used in a sentence: “You’ll see that our proposal has a lot of moving parts.”

What it actually means: If you encounter this cautionary idiom, it means the project in question has a lot of different components to manage


Used in a sentence: “Our spokesperson has a thorough understanding of the nuances regarding this issue.”

What it actually means: Industry-speak for “slight and subtle differences in expression or meaning.”


Used in a sentence: “I’ll ping that PDF over to you!”

What it actually means: This overly cute, slightly irritating term refers to sending someone an email or instant message. It pays tribute to the annoying sound electronic devices make when receiving said message.


Used in a sentence: “Wanted to put the Chocoholics’ Anonymous conference on your radar.”

What it actually means: To put in someone’s frame of reference; awareness.


Used in a sentence: 1. “On Valentines Day, singles will flock to Tinder to seamlessly swipe through available men.”

What it actually means: 1. A smooth and continuous transaction that avoids any major speed bumps or complications.

Used in a sentence: 2. “I have back-to-back calls at 2 and 3 with no time in between, so I’m ordering Seamless today.”

What it actually means: 2. An incredible food delivery service that shares the menus of  restaurants in your area and runs your bank account dry. A constant presence in any New York City office.


Used in a sentence: “By working together, we have streamlined the brainstorming process significantly.”

What it actually means: Making organization and specific processes more efficient by easier, swifter methods.

Sync Up.

Used in a sentence: “Do you have time to sync up with our CEO after lunch?”

What it actually means: Catch up, plain and simple.


Used in a sentence: “Great synergy on today’s call!”

What it actually means: Essentially lots of hot air. Synergy refers to interaction and cooperation between two or more parties. By working together, the outcome is greater than if they worked separately.

Touch Base.

Used in a sentence: “Let’s touch base after the long weekend.”

What it actually means: Finding a short span of time to meet up with someone to pick their brain.

%d bloggers like this: