There’s just no escaping office jargon. It pops up in meetings, memos, and emails. It’s kind of like a foreign language that involves mysterious terms like “synergy,” “actionable,” “incentivize,” and “closing the loop.”

Over time, you can pick up on it. The more you’re exposed to it, the easier it is to understand. But just in case you’re new to the business world, here’s a list of a few of the common phrases that you’ll encounter at the office and what they mean:

  • Learning experience – You made a mistake, but it’s OK because there are no serious consequences.
  • Play it back to me – Please repeat what you said. I wasn’t listening to you before, but I am now.
  • Looping you in – We’re going to include you on a long email thread in the hopes that you can alleviate a problem or fix something that’s gone wrong.
  • Let’s take this offline – I want to fill you in, but not in front of all of these other people.
  • Buy-in – You weren’t involved in shaping this idea, but now your support is needed.
  • Above my pay grade – Thankfully, I don’t need to handle this issue. My boss will deal with it.
  • Bandwidth – A word used to describe available resources (like time or energy).
  • Low-hanging fruit – Tasks that can be easily completed without a lot of effort.
  • It’s on the road map – That’s a good idea that we may adopt one day, but not for a really long time.

Do you have some office jargon that you’d like to share and define? Please do so in the Comments section below!


Deutsch, L., & Durando, J. (2014, September 24). Office jargon translator: What’s your boss really saying? USA Today. Retrieved from