02 April 2014

Lesser known modern office jargon

Following on from the Metro's list of office jargon we hate, we've pulled together a list of lesser-known phrases. How many of these have you used?

The Metro’s topic for ‘Today’s Talker’ was office jargon we hate. It included words like blue-sky thinking, idea shower, going forward, getting the ball rolling and of course thinking outside of the box.

This use of management jargon tops the list of office bugbears, as we highlighted last year. But there’s plenty more workplace waffle – we’ve picked our favourites of some lesser known terms below. Have you heard of, or perhaps used, any of these?

Descriptions for types of workers

Office workers are often referred to as desk jockeys, worker bees, corporate cadavers or Dilberts, amongst others. But have you heard of the following descriptions?

The digerati

The crowd that knows everything there is to know about computers

A double dipper

Someone who retires, but then starts another career

A fly-tipper

A manager who dumps work on the desks of his or her employees when they’re not around to avoid a confrontation

A lightning rod

Someone who is a common target for blaming or dumping work on.

A macromanager

A manager who tries to busy him or herself with work outside of their job role or department.

A peacock

Someone who feels the need to display all their awards and certificates to demonstrate their brilliance

A stepford worker

A member of staff who has become an unthinking clone.


Not an acronym for a small business – this can also stand for subject matter expert. You’re bound to know one and they’re always keen to show how much they know.

A cybernator

Someone who falls asleep at their desk

A 404

A worker who is clueless – used after the 404 messages you get online if a webpage is no longer available.

Other great jargony words

Have these found your way into your workplace conversations?


Having breakfast at your desk.

Performing a Muppet shuffle

This is where managers move underperforming workers to unsuspecting departments.


Sweeping up lots of small, often administrative jobs into one role.

Malicious obedience

When a member of staff carries out their manager’s requests to the letter, knowing their boss has missed something or hoping that it will result in a disaster.

Performing a work sandwich

Printing off personal items in between two work-related documents to hide the evidence.

Realising it’s an ohnosecond moment

The point at which you suddenly realise you may have made a terrible mistake.


When someone manipulates staff in a discussion towards particular outcomes under the disguise of facilitating the conversation. (Combination of facilitate and manipulate).

Safe harbour

The only area you can get a bit of peace and quiet - usually refers to the toilets.

Prairie dogging

Where something interesting happens and several heads pop up at the same time to hear or see what the excitement is about.

OT mail

Hands up who’s done this one? This is when you send your superiors an unnecessary email to subtly let them know you’re working overtime.


When you zone out and have a glazed expression on your face, often during a meeting.

Boil the ocean

To do the impossible

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