Microspeak: Year-over-year

In economics, the attributive adjective year-over-year means compared to the same time last year. Examples: "Year-over-year sales show a marked improvement." "Expenses continue to fall year over year." (The hyphens disappear when the adjective is used predicatively.)

I have only one citation, but it appears that the term has broadened its meaning inside Microsoft and is now merely a synonym for annual or year after year.

We hold decision-makers accountable year over year for carrying out their plan.

There is no obvious compared to the same time last year going on here. It's not like you are 15% more accountable this year than you were last year. Rather, the sentence merely says that reviewing how well the decision-makers are carrying out the plan takes place every year. (It may not be clear from the sentence above that that's what the sentence means, but it's clearer in the context of the entire document from which the sentence was extracted.)

Comments (17)
  1. John says:

    I have an idea.  Every time someone uses Microspeak you should punch them in the face.

  2. Bryan says:

    Sometimes, I want to be a CEO just so I can put policies in place that forbid this kind of misuse of phrases.

    Or should I say, I continue to on-look my growth potential to leverage my language plan for employee verbiage redundancy scenarios.

  3. laonianren says:

    Microsoft have recently pushed out an update for "inbox printer drivers":


    Which confused me no end.  Is that a print queue implemented as a mail account?  Or a printer driver that prints to a document and emails it somewhere?  Or what?

    I eventually realised they meant "in-box printer drivers", i.e. those that ship with Windows.

    I don’t know if this is Microspeak or idiocy.

  4. Rick C says:

    "I don’t know if this is Microspeak or idiocy."

    It’s idiocy regardless of whether or not it’s Microspeak.

  5. John says:

    I saw that "inbox printer drivers" update today and was also confused by it.  It’s not quite the same, but it reminded me of "crunchies": http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Does-Not-Compute-Crunchies,-Virtual-Returns,–More.aspx

  6. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    In-box vs inbox looks like a result of over-eager proofreading drones at Microsoft. I mean, those guys, who un-abbreviate all trivial abbreviations, following some rigid set of rules. Such as explaining what TCP/IP is.

  7. Jim says:

    I do not think that year-over-year was written intentionally. Just when someone wrote it, their neuron got disconnected.

  8. Mark says:

    I do not think that year-over-year was written intentionally. Just when someone wrote it, their neuron got disconnected.

    At last, the excuse for all occasions!

  9. Adam K says:

    That holds nothing on Facebookspeak, especially when coming from Mark Zuckerberg. The kid’s rhetoric makes Obama sound like a level-headed political vet.

  10. I find your choice for an example very funny and sad at the same time.

  11. JenK says:

    Maybe it’s an eggcorn for "year after year"?

    We can but hope.

  12. streuth says:

    I think I must be fed up with the Labour party here in the UK (democrats). I thought that use of this idiom was a left wing statement of political affiliation.

    (A bit like a secret handshake)

  13. Worf says:

    Or, the word "annually" comes to mind for things done year after year…

    And that inbox printer driver thing… ugh. What’s wrong with "shipped printer drivers" or "included printer drivers"?

  14. Anonymous Courageous says:

    Do you want to impress or confuse clients or Vice versa?………use Techno vocabulary.. It can be called the "Buzzword" writing method. It is simple. There are three columns of words involved, as follows:

    1. Balanced  0. Management    0. contingency
    2. total     1. Organization  1.Hardware(or SW)

    3. integrated 2. reciprocal   2. projection

    4. compatible 3. monitored    3. time-frame

    5. synchronized  4. digital   4. concept

    6. optimal       5. modular   5. programming

    7. responsive    6. transitional   6. mobility

    8. functional    7. Incremental   7. capability

    9. parallel      8. third-gen   8. flexibility

    10. systemized    9. policy      9. options

    Just select any three-digit number; then use the corresponding Buzzwords from the above grid, e.g., 257: "integrated modular capability". Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to you; it won’t mean anything to anyone else either, but they’ll think you’re just smarter than they are so they won’t say anything!! ..

    You can propose "systemized reciprocal options" (929) to achieve "optimal transitional flexibility" (568), so that we can think of an "integrated monitored projection" …………..and your boss will probably promote you or your customer will be blown away with your technological superiority !

  15. James says:

    "year-over-year": so how does that differ from "year-on-year"?

    "inbox printer driver": If it hadn’t been for laonianren’s comment (above) I’d still be thinking that this was some kind of bizarre model-name. So how can any driver be "inbox" after you hava had an OOBE? Surely everything "inbox" is still uninstalled and discarded when all the rest is "out-of-the-box"? We used to have a perfectly good word for Out-Of-The-Box-Experience: we used the word "install".

    Which reminds me, I’d like to meet the guy who coined OOBE. What was he smoking at the time that phrase/acronym was invented? (Full-disclosure: it might not be a happy meeting — see the first comment.)

    All this reminds me of the most devastating critique of a book I ever read, which went something like: "She’s a sociologist, so she never uses two words when she can make do with five."

  16. Joseph Koss says:

    The first thing I thought of was how my XP shipped with a driver for damn near everything common.

    That really is what is important. People like it when their stuff works and they don’t like it when their stuff doesn’t work.

    I find that that is true, year over year.

  17. dave says:

    Which reminds me, I’d like to meet the guy

    who coined OOBE. What was he smoking at the

    time that phrase/acronym was invented?

    Maybe I’m granting wit where none existed, but I always assumed that the initialism was meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek, at least by its originator, if not necessarily by the hoi-polloi.

    Before the Out-Of-Box Experience, there was the Out-Of-Body Experience, occasionally abbreviated to OOBE.

    I’m sure it’s entirely irrelevant that OOBE is sometimes correlated with a near-death experience.

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