Get your business jargon and slang down to a TTTTTT…

You may know what most of these terms mean, but their origins are often very surprising. Here is the penultimate in this series, all starting with the popular letter “T…”

One in a series of articles on business jargon and slang

Does a “thought shower” allow you to “talk turkey” and “toe the line” about “the blue economy?”

Take pot luck: (or take potluck) is usually thought to be related to the US meaning, dating back to the late 19th century, where a large meal consists of individual edible contributions from all the guests. However the term goes back farther in time, to Britain in the 16th century, when to take pot luck meant to take your chances on what you get. Interestingly, both meanings of the term are still in use.

Take something with a grain/pinch of salt: to accept something for what it appears to be, but with some reservations as to its accuracy! This term comes from the days when much food was rather tasteless and in many cases might have been poisoned. The idea was that if you were to take such food with a “grain of salt,” or a “pinch of salt,” it made it easier to swallow. The first known reference to this goes back nearly two thousand years when Pliny wrote about it (“grain of salt”) in Naturalis Historia, back in 77 A.D. The term (also as “grain of salt”) was popular in England from the 16th century in examples like John Trapp’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, in 1647, and F. R. Cowell (“pinch of salt”) in Cicero & the Roman Republic, in 1948. The amount of salt concerned with a “pinch” is obvious, and a “grain” is roughly .065 of a modern day gram. [Read more…]

Now for some SSSSSuccesses in English business jargon and slang…

If you spill the beans, you’d better shake a leg and sink or swim if you don’t want to go stir crazy … more fascinating origins of business and other jargon and slang in the crazy language called “English…”

English business jargon and slang, letter S

Are you as Stubborn as a mule?

Screwed, screwed up: often used as a metaphor for being damaged, or when something has happened to cause failure, e.g. “the sale of the company screwed up the engineers’ plans to create a new model of the motor.” We must assume that the term (which is officially classed as slang!) originates from the nature and usage of a screw, which is tightened by turning it around on its thread until it has fastened something. There are various other slang terms that use the word “screw,” and most of them are vulgarisms connected with action of “screwing” which, of course, also can be used as a euphemism for the sex act. However there are more innocent usages of the word, e.g. “to screw up a sheet of paper” meaning to crumple it up in your hand ready to throw away.

See eye-to-eye: this term has its origins in the Christian Bible, and its meaning hasn’t changed in the meantime… [Read more…]

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