nGen Works | 250 Buzzwords We Love To Hate
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250 Buzzwords We Love To Hate

UPDATE: Have an upcoming meeting? Check out these buzzword bingo cards we created.

A few weeks ago I was working with a couple of friends on a project and the unbelievable happened. One of them said we needed a simple way to explain the paradigm shift we were trying to create. I explained in a calm and orderly fashion that those words had been stricken from the English language. He asked why, and I explained that marketing people are bastards and they ruin everything.

To prove my point, I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends to send me the words they can’t stand anymore. And boy did they.

Here is the list of 250 buzzwords generated that afternoon. Thankfully, “awesome” and “kick ass” weren’t on the list or I would give up talking all together.

See a buzzword listed you think deserves another chance? Maybe there’s one that bugs the crap out of you that isn’t on the list? Let us know in the comments.

  1. accelerate
  2. accountability
  3. action items
  4. actionable
  5. aggregator
  6. agile
  7. algorithm
  8. alignment
  9. analytics
  10. at the end of the day
  11. B2B/B2C
  12. bandwidth
  13. below the fold
  14. best of breed
  15. best practices
  16. beta
  17. big data
  18. bleeding edge
  19. blueprint
  20. boil the ocean
  21. bottom line
  22. bounce rate
  23. brand evangelist
  24. bricks and clicks
  25. bring to the party
  26. bring to the table
  27. brogrammer
  28. BYOD (device)
  29. change agent
  30. clickthrough
  31. close the loop
  32. codify
  33. collaboration
  34. collateral
  35. come to Jesus
  36. content strategy
  37. convergence
  38. coopetition
  39. create value
  40. credibility
  41. cross the chasm
  42. cross-platform
  43. cross-pollinate
  44. crowdfund
  45. crowdsource
  46. curate
  47. cutting-edge
  48. data mining
  49. deep dive
  50. design pattern
  51. digital divide
  52. digital natives
  53. discovery
  54. disruptive
  55. diversity
  56. DNA
  57. do more with less
  58. dot-bomb
  59. downsizing
  60. drink the Kool Aid
  61. DRM
  62. e-commerce hairball
  63. eat your own dog food
  64. emerging
  65. empathy
  66. enable
  67. end-to-end
  68. engagement
  69. engaging
  70. enterprise
  71. entitled
  72. epic
  73. evangelist
  74. exit strategy
  75. eyeballs
  76. face time
  77. fail fast
  78. fail forward
  79. fanboy
  80. finalize
  81. first or best
  82. flat
  83. flow
  84. freemium
  85. funded
  86. funnel
  87. fusion
  88. game changer
  89. gameify
  90. gamification
  91. glamour metrics
  92. globalization
  93. green
  94. groupthink
  95. growth hack
  96. guru
  97. headlights
  98. heads down
  99. herding cats
  100. high level
  101. holistic
  102. homerun
  103. html5
  104. hyperlocal
  105. i _______
  106. iconic
  107. ideation
  108. ignite
  109. immersive
  110. impact
  111. impressions
  112. in the weeds
  113. infographic
  114. innovate
  115. integrated
  116. jellyfish
  117. knee deep
  118. lean
  119. lean in
  120. let’s shake it and see what falls off
  121. let’s socialize this
  122. let’s table that
  123. level up
  124. leverage
  125. like _______ for _______
  126. lizard brain
  127. long tail
  128. low hanging fruit
  129. make it pop
  130. make the logo bigger
  131. maker
  132. marketing funnel
  133. mashup
  134. milestone
  135. mindshare
  136. mobile-first
  137. modernity
  138. monetize
  139. moving forward
  140. multi-channel
  141. multi-level
  142. MVP
  143. netiquette
  144. next gen
  145. next level
  146. ninja
  147. no but, yes if
  148. offshoring
  149. on the runway
  150. open the kimono
  151. operationalize
  152. opportunity
  153. optimize
  154. organic
  155. out of pocket
  156. outside the box
  157. outsourcing
  158. over the top
  159. paradigm shift
  160. patent pending design
  161. peeling the onion
  162. ping
  163. pipeline
  164. pivot
  165. pop
  166. portal
  167. proactive
  168. productize
  169. proof of concept
  170. public facing
  171. pull the trigger
  172. push the envelope
  173. put it in the parking lot
  174. qualified leads
  175. quick-win
  176. reach out
  177. Ready. Fire. Aim.
  178. real time
  179. rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic
  180. reimagining
  181. reinvent the wheel
  182. responsive
  183. revolutionize
  184. rich
  185. rightshoring
  186. rightsizing
  187. rockstar
  188. ROI
  189. run it up the flagpole
  190. scalability
  191. scratch your own itch
  192. scrum
  193. sea change
  194. seamless
  195. SEM
  196. SEO
  197. sexy
  198. shift
  199. sizzle
  200. slam dunk
  201. social currency
  202. social media
  203. social media expert
  204. social proof
  205. soft launch
  206. solution
  207. stakeholder
  208. standup
  209. startup
  210. stealth mode
  211. stealth startup
  212. sticky
  213. storytelling
  214. strategery
  215. strategy
  216. sustainability
  217. sweat your assets
  218. synergy
  219. take it offline
  220. team building
  221. tee off
  222. the cloud
  223. the mayor of _________
  224. thought leader
  225. tiger team
  226. tollgate
  227. top of mind
  228. touch base
  229. touchpoints
  230. transgenerate
  231. transparent
  232. trickthrough
  233. uber
  234. unicorn
  235. uniques
  236. unpack
  237. user
  238. usercentric
  239. value proposition
  240. value-add
  241. vertical cross-pollination
  242. viral
  243. visibility
  244. vision
  245. Web 2.0
  246. webinar
  247. what is our solve
  248. what’s the ask?
  249. win-win
  250. wizard
33 Comments
  • Michael

    May 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I’d like to nominate “Thrown under the bus” as an honorary phrase that should be ended immediately.

  • Jana

    May 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Why isn’t “cloud” on there? If I took a shot every time someone used that word without having any idea what it meant, my liver would need a transplant.

  • Cahil Bey

    May 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    ‘Buzzword’ is a buzzword, too.

  • Carl Smith

    May 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Michael, I second the nomination.
    Jana, check out #222 – “the cloud.”
    Cahil, it is indeed.

  • Ben Paluba

    May 13, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    You forgot, “Bespoke”

  • John V.

    May 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    The size of this list and especially the inclusion of harmless terms like “algorithm”, “optimize”, “pipeline”, “real time” and many more make me thing that whoever made this list has no clue why we use those words.

    One’s “buzzwords” are another’s “terms of the trade”. We can’t understand each other without these terms. Silly.

  • Eileen

    May 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    UGH YES to #60, because I think it’s the only one on the list that is a casual business-bullshit reference to the murders 909 people.

  • Carl Smith

    May 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Ben, “bespoke” is a new one for me. How do people use it?
    John, sadly this list was made by a bunch of different people in different locations and different occupations. A majority are in the web industry, but many others chimed in. I think you’re right we need these words and right again that it’s a few that use them often and inappropriately that causes the difficulty. After being used incorrectly or overused their value drops. But what is the replacement for algorithm? I have no clue.
    Eileen, that is so true and I forget that. Just like “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” it was a tragedy that has become a common phrase.

  • Matthew Oliphant

    May 14, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I’m curious about what “bespoke” means, too.

  • Janis Graubins

    May 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Definitely “revolutionary” tops them all. Had a discussion recently with a PR specialist, who does work for tech companies and she said that this is just the word you do not want to use – it’s just too much used everywhere.

  • Slane

    May 15, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t see “enchant” on this list as in “Create enchanting experiences for your fans.” I’d love to see alternatives cause it would be fun – e.g., instead of proactive say “plan ahead” or “Not waiting until the last minute like we usually do and we’re forced to make a decision.”

  • Daan

    May 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Interesting list! The greatest omission, as far as I’m concerned, is “entrepreneur” or any variations thereof. Don’t people get sick of other people calling themselves “entrepreneurs” or looking for those in job specs?

  • Carl Smith

    May 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Revolutionary, enchant and entrepreneur definitely have a spot on the list.

    Thinking maybe we should have a contest to name the biggest buzzword of 2014. :)

  • Phil Hertzler

    May 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I guess this is a funny list, and maybe that’s the point, but it seems a bit unproductive to simply call people out for using these terms. Buzzwords can be a bit hollow, but sometimes they can be frame up an idea that might take many more words to express. That shared understanding might actually be helpful to a team trying to navigate unfamiliar territory with a client. We chuckle about buzzy terms too, but I still feel an obligation to… eh… _unpack_ (#236) exactly why a term was used.

  • Adam

    May 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Any word ending in “izr”.

  • Mary McDonald

    May 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Onboarding! (Which may have legitimate applications when putting cattle on trains or people on Carnival cruises, but not for new employees.)

  • Carl Smith

    May 22, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    @Phil, I was actually curious how other people felt more than calling anyone out. Although we did have some fun with the copy.

    @Adam, “izr” indeed!

    @Mary, I KNOW YOU!

  • BrianSJ

    May 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Transformational

  • Keith

    May 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks for the article! I’ve seen a few of these lists pop up lately, and this is a good one. What I’d really like to see, though, is a list of alternatives; it’s fine to list the terms that annoy people, but wouldn’t it be helpful to provide a different, and less annoying way of saying the same things? For example, instead of “evangelist” try “advocate,” or “promoter” (although, I’m not really sure if those are any less annoying…)

  • KM

    May 27, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    “Circle the wagons”, “Singing from the same hymn sheet”, “Methodology”, “Scalable Methodology”, “Raise the bar”, “Coping mechanisms”…
    off to top myself now! 0_o

  • Hilary

    May 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I vote for “deck” to be added!

  • Lena

    May 27, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I cast my vote for “buzzword” as well.
    I would add “passion” or “passionate about” – nowadays whenever I end up on someone’s About Me page the first thing I notice is the expression “passionate about”.

    And along with “entrepreneur” I’d add “serial entrepreneur”.

  • Grey

    May 27, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    “perfomant”, and in this job posting: “You should be equally in love with building performant applications…”
    “wheelhouse”, frequently used on the cooking competition shows I watch: “That’s in my wheelhouse.”

  • Heather

    May 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Where’s “robust”?

  • carissa

    May 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    if entrepreneur is on there, the new Colorado term “ganja-preneur” probably needs to be added…and maybe “resonate” would make the list.

  • Ted Goas

    May 27, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Have you seen Mule Design’s Unsuck-It (http://unsuck-it.com/)? There’s a lot of overlap with what’s above, but there are likely a few gems within. Plus it’s a fun site on which to spend a few minutes clicking around.

  • Fresh

    May 27, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    How about “literally”, the term that is misused on just about every podcast nowadays? People seem to think the term is synonymous with “truly”, when in fact it is specifically meant to clarify that a phrase is not a figure of speech.

  • petroglyphic

    May 27, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    “bespoke” means “made to order” and in its real life referred to clothing, particularly tailoring.
    Another vote for any word or phrase containing either “entrepreneur” or “team”.
    Daan – I agree that many of these words are useful in their original meaning. When they become buzzwords they are often used to try to apply the appeal of the original concept to situations where it’s completely unjustified – so if you call a group of people who are working on the same project a “team” it sounds like they’re working together even if the reality is that they’re taking every available opportunity to stab each other in the back .

  • Wendy Brand

    May 27, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Whenever I hear “outside the box” I want to regurgitate. If you use that phrase, you certainly aren’t thinking outside of anybody’s box!

  • Carl Smith

    May 28, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Wow, welcome to the post everybody. Appreciate these additions. Looks like we could hit 500 words with no problem. :)

  • Sir

    Jun 4, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Another to add – “Kickstart”

  • Linda Kolker

    Jun 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    “Walk the walk” and “When it comes to” really annoy me.

  • Carmela

    Jul 24, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    “flavor profile”…ugh