The Definitive List of Corporate Cliches

Jul 31, 2015

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A friend of mine works in the legal department of a Fortune 25 company where, apparently, they communicate entirely in bullspeak. Here, alphabetized for your convenience, is the best list I have ever seen of corporate metaphors, catchphrases and cliches you would be embarrassed to utter outside a teak-paneled boardroom. Bonus points to anyone who can use three or more of these in a single sentence:

A head shaker
Adding value
Air time
Albatross around our neck
Ankle biters
At the end of the day
Bandwidth / capacity
Bio break
Blow smoke up your dress/ass
Bubble gum and duct tape
Buttoned up
Cake in the face
Call a spade a spade
Caught with our pants down
Cheap-seat perspective
Circle back/up
Circling the drain
Closer shave
Critical path
Cross to bear
Crossing the goal line
Cube rats
Daisy chain
Dead cat bounce
Dipping your pen in the company ink
Dog and pony show
Don’t take your foot off the gas
Dressing the pig
Drinking the Kool-aid
Finding the right dance partner
Fire drill
Flag that for you
Get some more color around this
Give away the farm
Go pound sand
Herding cats
Holding pattern
In my back pocket
Jump on a call
Katie bar the door
Keep my neck out of the noose
Kick the can down the road
Kill the goose that lays the golden egg
Land grab
Let’s punt this one
Lipstick on the pig
Long in the teeth
Make hay while the sun shines
Monday morning quarterbacking
Moral high ground
Not married to that approach
Pass the baton
Putting out fires
Raked over the coals
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic
Say grace over this
See what sticks
Sell this up the food chain
Sharpen our pencils
Squeeze the stone
Stick a fork in it
Take a first pass
Take a quick dive
Take a step back
Take this offline
Taken to the woodshed
Talking the same language
That ain’t my circus and those ain’t my monkeys
That has (no) legs
The shit runs downhill
Treading water
Trench warfare
War room
Wave the white flag
Wet behind the ears
Wet my beak
Wind down
Window dressing

What corporate cliches would you add to the list, freelancers? Can you make up one of your own?

Deborah Gaines writes about the freelance life, among other things, for Huffington Post and manages corporate writing projects through her consulting practice, Deborah Gaines Associates.