19 “Important” Corporate Jargon Phrases (and what they really mean)

Date:February 19, 2024

There’s a good chance that you’ll hear a lot of confusing acronyms, words and phrases during the first months of your professional career. You might be embarrassed to admit that you have no idea what your boss means when she asks for “the KPI deck by EOD”. To help you along, here are 19 common examples of corporate jargon, what they mean, and in some cases, what they really mean.

1. Buy-in

In a sentence: “We need to get everyone’s buy-in before we proceed with this project.”

What it means: Before we can continue, we have to make sure that everyone agrees with the plan.

What it really means: We don’t want to put in hours of work just to have our project shut down by someone who doesn’t support the idea.

2. Balls in the air

In a sentence: “With the upcoming product launch and important client presentations, I’ve got a lot of balls in the air right now.”

What it means: I’m managing multiple tasks or projects simultaneously.

What it really means: I’m going the extra mile to do a good job here. Also, don’t give me any more tasks, or I’m going to cry.

3. Brain dump

In a sentence: “Let’s schedule a meeting for a brain dump on new product ideas.”

What it means: Let’s brainstorm and write down absolutely everything that comes to mind. There are no bad ideas.

What it really means: Please come up with brilliant and original ideas. If you say something stupid, the silence will be deafening. (Just kidding, the only thing worse than saying something stupid is contributing nothing at all, so just go for it!)

4. Core competencies

In a sentence: “Our core competencies are training, coaching and talent development.”

What it means: Core competencies are the defining characteristics that make a business or an individual stand out from the competition.

What it really means: The most important traits you need to succeed in a certain task.

5. Deep dive

In a sentence: “I’ll deep dive into this and let you know exactly how it impacts us.”

What it means: I’ll do a thorough analysis and find out everything there is to know about this.

What it really means: I’ve never heard of this and will now ask ChatGPT to explain the concept to me like I’m 10. Then I will do some more in-depth research.

6. Game changer

In a sentence: “This new app we’re developing has the potential to be a game changer in the industry.”

What it means: This is something new that will significantly affect the existing situation.

What it really means: We are very proud of ourselves and will be expecting lots of praise. Oh, and a raise, too.

7. Good to go

In a sentence: “The marketing campaign is good to go; we can launch it next week as planned.”

What it means: When a task, project, or action item is good to go, that means it’s been approved and can be sent ahead.

What it really means: If anyone has a problem with it, they can now take it up with your manager.

8. That will not fly

In a sentence: “Submitting the report without proper data validation will not fly with management.”

What it means: That is unacceptable and will not be approved.

What it really means: I wouldn’t try this if I were you.

9. Jump the shark

In a sentence: “Adding unnecessary features might cause the project to jump the shark.”

What it means: This serves no purpose and will actually cause the project or product to decline in relevance and quality.

What it really means: This is about as useful as a G-force meter in a Subaru.

10. Low-hanging fruit

In a sentence: “Let’s pick the low-hanging fruit first for some quick wins.”

What it means: Let’s focus first on these easily achievable goals or tasks before we dive into the more complicated action items.

What it really means: Pay special attention to the context, because this one’s tricky! It can actually mean two things: 1) work smarter, not harder; or 2) we can see you’re only doing the bare minimum and you need to put in more effort.

11. Park it

In a sentence: “We have limited time in this meeting, so let’s park this issue for now and continue to our next discussion point.”

What it means: To set aside a discussion or postpone a decision to a later time.

What it really means: I don’t want to talk about this right now. Or possibly ever.

12. Trim the fat

In a sentence: “In order to meet our quarterly targets, we need to trim the fat from the current project plan.”

What it means: Reducing unnecessary expenditures to save money. It can also mean removing redundant elements to improve efficiency.

What it really means: The idea is too expensive, it doesn’t fit the budget.

13. Silver bullet

In a sentence: “Artificial intelligence alone is not a silver bullet for optimising our processes.”

What it means: A simple, effortless solution to a complex problem.

What it really means: Some mythical, miraculous wizardry that will eliminate all your problems in one fell swoop. Its existence is about as certain as that of the Yeti.

14. Bleeding edge

In a sentence: “We use bleeding edge technology to always stay one step ahead of the competition.”

What it means: Like ‘cutting edge’, bleeding edge is used to define an innovative product, idea or service.

What it really means: We’re not sure we even understand it ourselves yet.

15. Let’s align

In a sentence: “Before we proceed with the client meeting, let’s align on the key talking points and objectives.”

What it means: Ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings or differing interpretations.

What it really means: You know what I want you to do, don’t mess up.

16. Synergy

In a sentence: “The synergy between the marketing and sales teams has resulted in a significant increase in revenue.”

What it means: Synergy refers to the positive outcome of collaboration between different departments or teams.

What it really means: I could’ve just said ‘teamwork’, but I wanted to be fancy.

17. Circle back

In a sentence: “I’d like to circle back to what you said before about trimming the fat.”

What it means: I have some questions, concerns or remarks about this thing you said earlier and would like to address them now.

What it really means: Nice try changing the subject, Janice. I see you.

18. EOD

In a sentence: “I’ll need that report on my desk by EOD.”

What it means: EOD stand for ‘end of day’ and refers to the conclusion of a workday.

What it really means: Drop everything you’re doing and take care of this first. No buts!

19. Hard stop

In a sentence: “I have a hard stop at 3 PM, I’ve got another meeting lined up.”

What it means: This meeting has to stop at the agreed upon time because I need to be somewhere right after.

What it really means: It’s Friday and I have a pitcher of margaritas and a bag of chips waiting for me at home.


We know, some – okay, all – of these corporate jargon phrases are pretty cringe. You probably think: I am never going to use these. I’ll just speak like a normal person. Trust us: yes, you will; and no, you won’t. At least this list gives you a nice head start for that meeting, in which you’ll be announcing you’d like to circle back to that low-hanging fruit because you have a hard stop at 4. Thank us later.

About Projective Group

Established in 2006, Projective Group is a leading Financial Services change specialist.

We are recognised within the industry as a complete solutions provider, partnering with clients in Financial Services to provide resolutions that are both holistic and pragmatic.  We have evolved to become a trusted partner for companies that want to thrive and prosper in an ever-changing Financial Services landscape.