Microspeak: fit


In Microspeak, fit is a predicate noun which is never used on its own but always comes with a modifying adjective. For something to be a good fit is for something to be appropriate or suitable for a particular situation. The opposite of a good fit is not a bad fit, because that's pejorative. Rather, something that is not a good fit is referred to as a poor fit.

The purpose of a previewer plug-in is to allow users to view the media without opening it. An image editing tool would not be a good fit for the previewing feature. (Alternatively, "would be a poor fit for the previewing feature.")

To be a good fit with a particular group is to mesh well with that group's existing practices and conventions.

The Datacenter Edition of the product is a poor fit for most small businesses.

The group in question need not consist of people.

The results are obtained incrementally, which makes it a good fit for IQueryable<T> and LINQ.

Microsoft Human Resources loves to apply the concept of "fit" to people fitting into a job position.

Comments (19)
  1. JK. says:

    Is this really Microspeak, I contend that it is just speak.

  2. Bradley says:

    Agreed, I hear this use all the time, particularly regarding prospective employees, ie, "I don't think Bob would be a good fit for our company."

  3. Ralf Haring says:

    The first definition on Google for the noun form is "The particular way in which something, esp. a garment or component, fits around or into something." This really isn't a particular phrase used only in Microsoft.

  4. Rob Paveza says:

    @Ralf Haring: On what search engine is that?

  5. LazerFX says:

    fit/fit/

    Adjective:

    (of a thing) Of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose: "the meat is fit for human consumption".

    Verb:

    Be of the right shape and size for: "those jeans still fit me".

    Noun:

    The particular way in which something, esp. a garment or component, fits around or into something.

    A sudden uncontrollable outbreak of intense emotion, laughter, coughing, or other action or activity: "in a fit of temper".

    Synonyms:

    adjective.  suitable – proper – apt – appropriate – fitting – right

    verb.  suit – adjust – match – adapt

    noun.  attack – spasm – bout – paroxysm – access

    Sounds like that's a standard usage to me.

  6. df says:

    Yes, I've heard Microsoft has an interesting definition of 'FIFO' which involves the word "fit" :P

  7. JM says:

    The Microspeak (or business-speak) seems to be the ritualistic formal use of "fit" in the stock expressions "good fit for X" and "poor fit for X", even where common speak would prefer "(un)suitable" or something more specific like "overkill" or "incompatible in design". "Poor fit" in particular seems to be a euphemism for "unsuitable", and "good fit" either a more committed way of saying "applicable" or a less committed way of saying "the obvious solution". The meaning is not unusual, the usage is.

    Compare "An image editing tool obviously doesn't meet the criteria", "The Datacenter Edition is massive overkill for most small business", "The results are obtained incrementally, so we can make good use of IQueryable<T> and LINQ".

    Conversely, "this criminal is a good fit for the electric chair", "a hedge clipper is a poor fit for haircuts", "an Intel processor is a poor fit for an AMD motherboard".

  8. Willem van Rumpt says:

    Seriously?

    You consider this an Microsoft brewed addition to the English language?

    [Hardly. Microspeak is not just "words invented by Microsoft"; it's "peculiar usage that you see a lot at Microsoft." (And which you should therefore be familiar with if you communicate with Microsofties.) -Raymond]
  9. Simon Buchan says:

    @JM here seems to get the implication. But yeah, Raymond might get less self-assured comments if he also provided the "normal human" alternative in these posts.

  10. Danny says:

    @Ray

    Microspeak is not just "words invented by Microsoft"; it's "peculiar usage that you see a lot at Microsoft

    </quote>

    Is "Body" then Microspeak as well? I believe you do see a lot of "Body" used in peculiar ways also. Or any other common words that made a new definition since computers and the IT in general came into action since mid 80's? (Head – another human part, same HTML category; Brain – nicest one would be brainstorming – the most common IT related would be the one teachers tell in school as 'CPU is the brain of PC'; and the list can go on forever)

    Q.E.D.

    [If those words were used at Microsoft at a higher rate than in the general language, then I would include them, but my impression is that that is not the case right now. (By your criterion, "totally" is not Valspeak since it is used in the general language with the same meaning. Nevermind that it is used in Valspeak far more often than in the general language.) -Raymond]
  11. '… Then again—"before she had this fit–" you never had fits, my dear, I think?' he said to the Queen.

    'Never!' said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)

    'Then the words don't *fit* you,' said the King, looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.

    'It's a pun!' the King added in an offended tone, and everybody laughed…

  12. Danny says:

    Are you telling me that "Body" is not used at Micro$oft at a higher rate then in the general language? Do I really need to point you at http://www.microsoft.com pages and see what is the rate of the word <BODY> in there? Or to send you to pay a visit to those who are working on web applications (intern or external ones? I believe their number are in tens of thousands, which dream HTML even in coma? (God forbid to be the case)

  13. mike says:

    This is also well-known in publishing circles as the delicate text for rejections: "This material is not a good fit for our current needs."

  14. chentiangemalc says:

    Poor Raymond. Forgot pre-emptive nitpicking disclaimer.

  15. Drak says:

    @Danny: What you're getting at is jargon. This 'fit' business is used all over Microsoft apparently, and a Microsoftie (as Raymond puts in :) is expected to understand it.

  16. I would propose the following working definition of "Microspeak"-ness:

    Let M be the event that a person works at Microsoft.

    Let W be the event that a person uses a (given) word w.

    Then a word w is "Microspeak" iff P(M|W) > P(M).

  17. Ralf Haring says:

    @Drak, what seems to have caused a bit of head-scratching is that it is an everyday phrase that anyone anywhere is expected to understand, not an unusual use of language that is particular to MS. It's just English.

  18. Drak says:

    @Ralf (namesake :): True, but I doubt most of my non-speaking-english-while-growing-up-colleagues would have any idea :P

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