The Ultimate List of 119 Most-Hated Business Buzzwords

September 30th, 2019

What is a business buzzword, and what makes them the worst?

Words become annoying buzzwords when they get overused, frequently misused, or are just plain vague. Terms with a perfectly good plain-English counterpart are especially hated. It’s a classic mark of jargon! If there’s a different word that you would say if you weren’t at work, check yourself: you’re probably using business jargon.

Based on a recent TrustRadius survey of over 700 professionals, here is the ultimate list of the 119 most-hated business buzzwords. These corporate cliches, in order of most-mentioned to least-mentioned, are full of juicy jargon, vague terminology, obscure metaphors, and problematic turns of phrase. 

The 119 Worst Business Buzzwords for 2020

  1. Synergy
  2. Think outside the box (and other variations, like “step out of the box,” an “out of the box” idea, etc.)
  3. Take it offline
  4. Circle back
  5. Low-hanging fruit
  6. At the end of the day
  7. Cloud, and cloud-based
  8. To not know what you don’t know
  9. Big Data
  10. Move the needle
  11. Leverage
  12. Agile
  13. Best Practice
  14. Digital transformation
  15. Deep dive
  16. Bandwidth
  17. Customer journey
  18. Moving forward–and its close cousin “going forward”
  19. Next level, up-level, level up
  20. Reach out
  21. Touch base
  22. Wheelhouse
  23. Disruptor
  24. Alignment / Aligned
  25. Right
  26. Bottom line
  27. Acronyms (FYI, ROI, KPI, etc.)
  28. Disruptive
  29. Value (as in value-add, driving value, value proposition, corporate values, or value drop)
  30. Ping
  31. Lean, and lean-in
  32. Paradigm (as in paradigm shift or breaking the paradigm)
  33. Partner–the verb (“Partner with us”) and the noun (“Business partner”)
  34. Ideate / Ideation
  35. Ask, used as a noun to mean “request”
  36. Learnings
  37. Holistic, especially in the phrase “Holistic approach”
  38. Culture (as in “company culture,” “corporate culture,” “startup culture,” or “creating a [inset adj. here] culture”)
  39. Thought leader / Thought leadership
  40. Content (whether “Content is king” or “snackable content”)
  41. Growth hacking (which is essentially just marketing)
  42. Buy-in
  43. Pain point
  44. Swimlane, or even just “lane,” particularly when someone is telling you to stay in yours.
  45. Best in class / Best of breed
  46. Game-changer
  47. Teamwork, team-building, and team-players
  48. Next-gen
  49. Hard stop
  50. ROI (“Return on investment”)
  51. IoT (“Internet of things”)
  52. Innovative
  53. Influencer
  54. Single pane of glass
  55. Customer-centric
  56. All hands on deck
  57. Net-net
  58. Put a pin in it
  59. Stakeholders
  60. Strategic
  61. Metrics
  62. Machine Learning
  63. Pivot
  64. On the same page
  65. Advertainment
  66. Collaboration
  67. Intelligence, whether it’s “artificial intelligence,” “business intelligence,” “emotional intelligence,” “market intelligence,” “competitive intelligence,” or otherwise.
  68. Automation
  69. Blockchain
  70. Intuitive
  71. Analytics
  72. Platform
  73. Open the kimono
  74. Unpack
  75. Giving 110%
  76. Tables of all sorts: table stakes, bringing something to the table, or tabling it for later
  77. Quick win
  78. Onboarding (and “get everyone on board”)
  79. Scrum
  80. Boil the ocean
  81. Story (in context of “storytelling,” “user stories,” or making a “long story short”)
  82. On your plate, or having a “full plate”
  83. 30,000 ft. view, 10,000 ft. view, and other escalations of a top-down view
  84. Core competency / Core capabilities
  85. Rockstar
  86. Loops: “looping back,” keeping someone “in the loop,” or the dreaded “feedback loop”
  87. Free, and even worse, freemium
  88. Blue sky
  89. Integration
  90. Engagement
  91. Actionable
  92. Efficiency
  93. Socialize
  94. Diversity
  95. Verticals
  96. Bio-break
  97. Bleeding edge
  98. Optimize
  99. Scalable
  100. Organic
  101. Omni-channel
  102. Empower
  103. Win-win
  104. Optics
  105. DevOps
  106. Data-driven
  107. In the weeds
  108. Double click (as in to “double-click” into something)
  109. On your radar
  110. Ducks in a row
  111. Drill down
  112. Space (as in “playing in” a particular “space”)
  113. Fast in various forms, such as “fast-paced,” “fail fast” or “cheap, fast, and good”
  114. Top of mind, mindfulness, and mindshare 
  115. KPI (“Key performance indicator”)
  116. ASAP (“As soon as possible”)
  117. Giving back your time 
  118. Per (“per se,” “per my last email,” etc.)
  119. FYI (“For your information”)

Whew! That’s a lot of jargon.

Why TrustRadius cares about business buzzwords

You might be asking yourself, “Why does a review site care about how many business buzzwords I hear every day at work?” Well, the words and feelings you have at work are the lifeblood of our business. That’s exactly what a review is, after all. (And ours are some of the longest in the industry–over 400 words on average.)

We’re in a unique position. We connect professionals who buy and use business technology with each other. We also connect them to the vendors that provide the products they use. There’s a lot of communication happening in those relationships. Some of it is on a one-to-one basis, but much of it is on a one-to-many basis. 

The use of buzzwords in the tech industry is especially rampant. The tech marketing lingo vendors project to their prospects and customers is even worse. But this is exactly why people love reviews. They’re relatable, candid, and easy to read. They haven’t been run through a buzzwords marketing machine. Reviews are written by humans who have used the technology products for their own business, and have some advice to share.

We did this survey because words matter. In our business, we’ve seen that the more real, specific, accessible, and personal words are, the better results we (and our customers) get

What do you think are the most annoying business buzzwords?

Did you see your (least) favorite term on the list? Or were the worst offenders missing? Take the survey for yourself here. You’ll be able to see how we sourced this list, and make sure your opinion gets heard!