I continue to have conversations after my post on Lost Words about using expressions from another era to bamboozle younger colleagues. Some contributors said they had been openly mocked for using phrases such as pyrrhic victory, litmus test and wanting to ‘send something across the ether’.
Others drew quizzical looks for using the terms; Straw Man, Ockham’s Razor, Hobson’s Choice, swinging the lead, or for worrying out loud that everything was going to ‘to hell in a hand basket’.
I was reminded of a boss who ‘blew a gasket’ in a meeting. A petty issue kept appearing on the agenda, and he desperately wanted the discussion to go away. One day, he shouted, ‘I am fed up with this pettifogging bumbledom!’ I loved that. Pettifogging Bumbledom. It sounded like something straight out of Dickens.
The cake, however, goes to Terry, who said he wished people would bring back the acronyms, POETS DAY and FIGJAM. I remembered Poet’s Day, aka Friday, which stood for; ‘P*** off early, tomorrow’s Saturday,’ but I was stumped at FIGJAM and had to ask him. It stands for ‘F**k I’m good, just ask me!
Thanks (and more cake) also go to Warwick, who produced four acronyms that I had never heard before.
HIPPO, WOLF, RHINO and ZEBRA.
A HIPPO is The Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.
A WOLF is someone akin to a panic merchant, with a short attention span who is always Working on Latest Fire.
A RHINO is Really Here in Name Only and a ZEBRA is someone who has Zero Evidence but (is) Really Arrogant.
The Zebra seems a perfect segue, given the times, to resurrect a word from the 16th century and describe a MUMPSIMUS; someone who insists they are right despite clear evidence they are wrong. (In the same century, ‘TRUMPERY’ described something ‘of little or no value; trifling, paltry, insignificant; worthless, rubbishy or trashy).
The language of the workplace fascinates me. If you have any other examples of outdated expressions, or modern business jargon that grates, I’d love to hear about it.