Bad language must be punished

It’s time to get tough on the jive-talking jargonistas and lecture-circuit logopaths who persist in ****ing up the Queen’s (or President’s) English.

Renditionable words and phrases listed below.

Cute the first time, but not any more

goodness: when used in techy contexts, as in ‘filled with API goodness’ or ‘pure XSLT goodness’

love: as in ‘we’re loving the new desktop’, or ‘that kitten meme is getting a whole lotta love down here in W1’, or ‘get a little API loveliness’

stuff: as in ‘cool stuff for your iPad’

-ista: as in Pythonista, Cameronista, standardista, jargonista (as used earlier in this post…)

play space, sand pit: as in ‘this is the project play space, this is the sand pit’

Down with the subculture

Any phrase like ‘down with my homies!’ or ‘epic fail!’, uttered by people who should know better: sometimes executives, sometimes after consuming stimulants, sometimes even with hand gestures. ‘Totes amazeballs’ is really bad.

Tough-talking Americanisms

barn storming

big ask: especially as an adjective, as in ‘That’s a big-ask programme for a young pianist!’

boil the ocean

chops: as in ‘Steve Jobs didn’t have the chops to stick it with NeXT’

deep pocketed

hella (Californian for ‘very’): painful when used by non-Californians

spin up: as in ‘once we spin up the project’

tie the bow: as in ‘once Google tie the bow on desktop integration’

No idea what these mean, but I don’t like them



buckets: as in ‘vertical cost buckets’

burndown: as in ‘can someone give me a sprint burndown’

business logic

cadence (in an ‘agile’ project management context)

captured all the givens

convergence in terms of delivery


ensemble of features



suite: as in ‘suite of applications’ or ‘suite of resources’

tech spikes

thought leaders

tick all our boxes


user journeys

value: as in ‘we believe that Adobe is uniquely able to bring new value to the setting’

viral email

walled garden

wind: as in ‘there is a strong following wind behind the drive to open adoption’


New ways to patronise

helpful: as in ‘that’s not a very helpful remark’

confusion and misunderstanding: as in ‘there’s been a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about the party’s policy in Iraq’

‘That’s a very good question!’: as in ‘I’m not going to give you an answer.’

… and these are still bad

adjectives as nouns, even worse with an adverb: ‘We took everything good about the platform, and added a dollop of unbelievably great!’, ‘Your new app is just a whole lotta awesome!’

around: as in ‘issues around resourcing’ (i.e. problems with staff); a tertiary-educated alternative to the prosaic ‘about’ or ‘with’

conversation: as in ‘this is a conversation we need to have with the licence fee payer…’, or ‘The Role of Strategic Conversations with Stakeholders in the Formation of Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy’

issues: see around. (It’s pointless to whine when language morphs in ways we don’t like, but ‘issue’ did used to be useful, as in ‘a number of complex issues’. Now the word is just a posh or euphemistic replacement for ‘problem’, which is regarded as harsh, almost rude. Similarly, when I was growing up in Australia, the good word ‘got’ was declared non-U, or even taboo: we were taught to say ‘received a letter’ not ‘got a letter’. An English professor told me that in one school, a teacher took his class outside and made them dig a big hole, then they each wrote the word ‘got’ on a piece of paper and buried it.)

offering: as in ‘Channel 4’s VoD offering’ or ‘the Salesforce CMS offering’, for some reason much loved by IT managers

refresh: as in ‘business refresh’ (initiate a round of redundancies…) or ‘technology refresh’ (…then buy iPads for all the VPs)

relevant and interesting: as in ‘get the data on a map, then find ways to make it relevant and interesting’, aka get the cart before the horse

vertical and horizontal: as in ‘a horizontal slice across a vertical market’

About Sam Dutton

I am a Developer Advocate for Google Chrome. I grew up in rural South Australia, went to university in Sydney, and have lived since 1986 in London, England. Twitter: @SW12
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