2017 has been the year of the buzzword, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of private business.
Buzzwords, which are pithy words and phrases meant to convey one’s intelligence or savvy, often do just the opposite. “People who want to appear up-to-date, or ‘cool,’ adopt the buzzword–whether they fully understand it or not,” notes Tony Thorne, a linguist and visiting consultant at King’s College in London, where his research focuses on slang and generational divides. “The buzzword is over-used, and becomes a cliché. It may be ridiculed and mocked, but some people will go on using it nevertheless.”
The good news is that buzzwords eventually go out of style, but that can take a while. Consider that the adage “think outside the box” has been trending for more than a decade–and that one of Macmillan’s Dictionary’s top words of 2017, “maximalism,” was on an early list of buzzwords published by Thorne in 2006.
To save you–and the people you love–some time, Inc. parsed the dictionaries, the social media networks, and the piles of press releases that reporters get on a daily basis. Without further ado, in order from least to most offensive, here are the worst buzzwords of 2017:
If you think you’ve been hearing this one for entirely too long, you’re not mistaken…all the more reason it makes no sense in 2017. The label is commonly applied to software upgrades, but as the best programmers know well, whatever is “nextgen” of the moment will hardly be “nextgen” by the time it’s downloaded. Nix.
24. Deep Dive
Attention, scubas: A dive is, by definition, plunging into the murky depths of a subject. Your “deep dive” doesn’t sound cool, it’s redundant. (If you were truly “diving deeply” you might have understood that.)
A derogatory term for someone perceived as too sensitive to have their worldview challenged, “snowflake” is a buzzword championed by the alt-right. If you’re really that interested in the uniqueness of frozen matter, we suggest a lefty alternative: The broflake.
-; Kerr Griffin (@kerr_griffin) June 1, 2017
22. Ping me
Don’t “ping me,” please. Send me an email. I’m not a plastic ball.
21. Gig Economy
Short-term labor is practically the new norm, so you might as well just start saying “economy.”
What are we, in a granary? Altogether now: Departments.
Your users aren’t getting married to your service. Honestly, they probably don’t even like it that much.
18. Growth Hacking
I almost feel like this needs no description, but please, if you’re experimenting across marketing channels, just. say. that.
Why no, I do not have the range of frequencies occupied by a modulated carrier signal to pick up that menial task you’ve thrown my way.
16. Customer Centric
Honestly, if you’re anything-else-centric, just file for Chapter 11 right now.
I was paddling along the river Thames one morning when I realized… oh wait.
14. Initial Coin Offering
If Paris Hilton endorses it, you probably shouldn’t.
Short for “strategic communications.” It’s the name of my future robot puppy, not your operational regime.
12. Hive Mind
Tapping into the collective consciousness is weird enough without a buzzword. Lose it.
11. Pivot to video
If it didn’t work for Ross…
“Why, sir! You’ve lost your sailor’s cap in the —” is the only acceptable preceding clause.
Short for “business method.” I heard bizmeth goes for $50 an ounce in San Ysidro. That’s probably too expensive for your company to justify.
8. Core Competency
Lots of people — for instance, quite a few in Washington — don’t possess this. But everyone should.
7. Paradigm Shift
…is the next movie from director M. Night Shyamalan. Not the way to describe changes in investor perception of the tech IPO.
God is Omnichannel. Your marketing, not so much.
If you were really doing it, you wouldn’t have time to talk about it.
4. Digital Native
We’re Internet users, not confused Italian explorers of the 16th century.
3. Ripe for Disruption
No industry is so juicy that it deserves the analog.
Just because you have 4 million followers doesn’t mean you’ve changed my mind.
A holdover from 2016, cuck still seems to be in common Twitter parlance. It’s a shorthand for perceived weaknesses–particularly for men who may be submissive to women–but generally demonstrates the user’s own misogyny. Inc. begs of you, reader: Don’t use it.