Language is a living thing; a constantly changing and evolving environment in which words and phrases spring into being and live out their lives. Some, like majestic trees, live long and grace the literary landscape with their presence. Others litter the ground like scraggly weeds, stifling clarity and choking eloquence at every turn.
Business writing – a soil particularly well enriched with taurine fertiliser – provides the most fertile environment for such unwanted invaders to take root. Bryan A. Garner, writing in the HBR, has been busy gathering handfuls of the worst offenders (as judged by numerous contributors) in an effort to put this rogues gallery to the scythe.
Bryan urges everyone to "Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. " And when you do, pull it out by the roots!
actionable (apart from legal action)
at the end of the day
back of the envelope
bandwidth (outside electronics)
bring our A game
ducks in a row
hit the ground running
kick the can down the road
let’s do lunch
let’s take this offline
level the playing field
on the same page
out of pocket (except in reference to expenses)
push the envelope
putting lipstick on a pig
seismic shift (outside earthquake references)
think outside the box
throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
throw under the bus
under the radar
verbage (the correct term is verbiage — in reference only to verbose phrasings)
where the rubber meets the road
Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. You’ll eventually learn to spot it — and avoid it — in your own writing. You’ll omit canned language such as Attached please find and other phrases that only clutter your message.