Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What word or phrase made you crazy last year?

I'll never forget the first time I heard someone say, "We need to drill down to the granular level to find that information." As an English major who became a marketer, I was fascinated by the image of drilling into a pile of data, like a team of oilmen on an ocean rig, to find answers. The metaphor intrigued me.

But then, as the morning meeting progressed, I heard the words used maybe five more times. By the end of the day, I'd heard "drilling down" used probably ten more times. And, by the end of the week, I had heard it so much I was ready to scream the next time I heard anyone say they were going to drill down for anything! The phrase had changed from a fresh image into a stale cliche, an old, moldy donut of language left for the rats to pick over.

Unfortunately, especially in the business world, occasionally some poetic soul invents a new way of comparing things and the copycats rush to use it... over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over....well, you get the point.

That thought led me to wonder what words or phases made you want to scream last year because they had become trite, worn out, overused, hackneyed and cliched buzz. If nothing comes immediately to your mind, I'll nominate a couple for your consideration: "death panel", "tweet", "google", "rogue", "ping", "win-win", "touch base", "Web 2.0", "social media marketing", and "whatever."

I know that "google" has become a verb and "tweet" is rapidly approaching that status, but, still.... Anyway, let me know what language is bothering you! Do some drilling down! It's your deliverable for the week! It will produce a win-win for all of us!


  1. "At the end of the day"
    "Drive change"
    "Due to economic reasons..."
    "Strategic alliance"

    There are so many others...I hate "businessy" talk. I think about playing buzz word bingo every time I hear an executive talk or get and email from them.

  2. Deep dive.
    (When drilling down simply won't do.)
    Rich Odato

  3. That's deep! ....and a new one on me!

  4. Ed, i have a question about the word "Franchise", could you tell me please why this word is used often in America?? 'coz i am confused about the meaning and i come from China but sino-english dictionary cannot explain it clearly.
    could you tell me the root in "franchise" ? and i heard on TV that it was also used as a verb. what does this word mean in the context exactly? any examples?

  5. thanks a lot in advance , haha.....=)

  6. Great question! As a noun, "franchise" means a business you own as part of a bigger operation. For example, if you own a McDonald's franchise, you make a lot of money selling hamburgers but pay the International McDonald's company to use the brand name, materials, promotions and so forth. When McDoanld's franchises (verb) its business, it sells it to people like you and then you own a franchise (noun). Get it?

  7. I can't stand these two:
    bottom line
    to think out of the box

  8. I can't stand the word surreal. This word is uttered all too often by Hollywood entertainers especially during interviews or at award shows. When I hear a movie star say their experience was surreal, it feels like sharp nails on a chalkboard to me. The next time you watch the grammys, oscars, or golden globes, count how many times you hear the word surreal.