25 Buzzwords That Make My Head Explode (2018 Version)

By Gerald Walsh ©

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I detest buzzwords.

My rationale is: Why use confusing words and phrases when you can just use plain, simple language that says what you really mean?

In my line of work, we see it all the time: job applicants using buzzwords on their resumes or during interviews in a weak attempt to convey knowledge and business savvy.  

More often than not, their strategy backfires.

The good news is that buzzwords—like fashion—eventually go out of style. The bad news is that they are quickly replaced by new ones.

You know I like to keep you up-to-date on things.

So, here’s my 2018 annual list of buzzwords that drive me crazy. Let me know if you have others you would like to add to the list.

Bricks and mortar

You mean a ‘building’ in other words?

Circle back

Doesn’t going in a circle mean ending up where you started? Why would you want to do that?


Why don’t people just say the full word “communications?” It won’t take that much longer.

Core competencies

You could just say what you’re good at.


Just pay attention to the people who actually pay you. It can’t be that hard.

The dial-in

This was formerly known as the telephone number.

Deep dive or drill down

Believe it or not, these terms both mean the same thing like … checking something out.


You cannot de-incentivize because “incentivize” is not actually a real word.


Without a doubt, this is my #1 most annoying word of 2018. Please don’t say you’re a “disruptor” on your resume or Linkedin profile or you will never get a call from me.

30,000 foot view

All I know is when I look out a plane at 30,000 feet, I usually see clouds.

Gig economy

This means that a whole bunch of people (unfortunately) can’t find full-time work so they work at a series of part-time jobs.

Going forward

I guess it’s possible you could be going backward but I suspect if you are going anywhere, it is forward.

In the hopper

You could just say put it in the ‘parking lot.’ But that’s another buzzword. Let’s just talk about it later.

Let’s marinade on that

Unless you are a steak that needs tenderizing, why don’t you just think about it?


Short for ‘next generation.’ Pretty sure this refers to our children and their friends.

Paradigm shift

It seems like this one has been around for decades. It’s still annoying. In the future, let’s just think differently.

Ping someone

Just send them an email or text, why don’t you?


It means doing a “180.” Whoops, I think 180 is a buzzword (or number.)

Price point

You can just say ‘price.’ It’s shorter.

Run it up the ladder

Why don’t you just talk to the boss?

Side hustle

Latest lingo for a ‘part-time job.’ (BTW, is lingo a buzzword? If it is, I apologize.)

We operate in ‘silos’

That means we don’t talk to each other.

The ‘Uber’ of anything

That means it’s pretty darn good ... if you like Uber.

What’s the company’s value proposition?

Why not say, “How does the company make money?” Then everybody will understand what you mean.

In the wheelhouse

Seriously, if I was a ship’s captain I’d be very insulted that the place where I sit all day has been turned into a buzzword.  

A final word

There seems to be some debate on the internet about whether the word “buzzword” is a buzzword itself.

Now, I didn’t do extensive research on this question. But it seems that the term started back in the 1940s by a group of Harvard University students (who probably later became consultants) to mean the key words in a lecture or reading. Buzz was a popular mathematical counting game at the time, and it was combined with word to become buzzword.

So does that make “buzzword” a buzzword?

Personally, I don’t think it passes the smell test. I’ll put out a few feelers but I’m inclined to put it on the backburner.


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career. You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh