The CEO-to-English Phrase Book, a continuing series from Slate

I'm an economics geek, so of course I'm a fan of Slate's Moneybox column as well as The Dismal Science and most of all, Steven Landsburg's gleefully provocative Everyday Economics. I'm also a language geek, so I've been quite enjoying the occasional Moneybox articles which decode CEO speak into plain English titled The CEO-English Phrase Book, thereby combine two geek topics into one.

Terms that have been defined so far:

Comments (10)
  1. Andy says:

    My favorite recently observed business term:

    Simultaneous Legally Unrelated Transactions

    You can figure out the acronym yourself.


    This was a term used by Worldcom and Enron to describe business dealing between the two companies.

  2. Jesus says:

    I noticed that most CEO Speak analyzed Mr. Gross’ analysis is that the result of those awful Republican policies. Therefore, if we kill all the Republicans CEOs would obviously be free to say what they mean…obviously.

  3. alfons says:

    "Pro-active" comes to my mind too..

  4. Steve Hall says:

    My current malevolent favorite is "transitioned".

    E.g., Steve is being transitioned in a couple of months.

    Meaning: Steve is getting RIFed… (Unfortunately true.)

    British version: Steve is being made redundant… (Although I think the British version is also a product of CEO-speak…)

  5. Steve Hall says:

    I just realized that "legacy cost" could be applied to the cost of my vacation payout and severance when I get RIFed.

    Well, at least when I hear it in the hallway amongst HR reps, managers, and bean counters, I’ll know what they’re whispering about!

    Raymond’s blog is TRUELY a source of never-ending useful trivia! (I view Raymond’s blog as sort of a "Hitchhiker’s Guide through Windows and Sometimes Other Things"…taking up where Douglas Adams left off!)

  6. David Candy says: and you can set goals like

    incubate robust ROI

    brand extensible architectures

    leverage collaborative interfaces

    (Gee I’m starting to sound like a MS employee)

    and from

    ‘Recognising that a national framework for comparison of water accounting systems can encourage continuous improvement leading to adoption of best practice..’

    The National Water Initiative

    ‘Filtering. After "ideation" ideas must be "filtered". This process involves the following steps: strategic alignment with the vision on where to take the company, competitive differentiation, first scan attractiveness of the idea, feasibility organisational capabilities to execute cross-department inclusion, consistency of process, buy-in to output.’ Report provided by consultants Booz Allan Hamilton to 7-Eleven Australia..[Thanks to Andrew Manning]

  7. metamerist says:

    If you like Landsburg’s column, these may be worthy of perusal. (Note: Friedman puts a lot of stuff online.)

    Henry Hazlitt’s "Economics in One Lesson"

    David Friedman’s "Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life"

  8. Charlie T. says:

    British readers will know about a 1990’s TV show called Drop the Dead Donkey, a brutally satirical comedy about a TV newsroom. It was filmed a few days before transmission so it would be topical. There was a character called Gus Hedges, the boss of the station, who used to talk nothing but management-speak nonsense.

    Typical quote:

    "Could we interlock brain-spaces in my work area?"

  9. foxyshadis says:

    KJR has a continuing series of management-speak translations every weekly column, though it’s not analysed like these are.

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