Quiz: can you define all 25 of these business jargon and slang terms?

A quiz for you this week! Do you know what these 25 terms mean? Bet you don’t get them all right! Select the option you believe is correct…

These are taken from my forthcoming book, English Business Jargon & Slang, to be published in 2018 by Business Expert Press who have also published the US version of another of my books, How To Write Brilliant Business Blogs.

Business jargon and slang - quiz for you

Business jargon and slang in English … a whole new language?

Anyway, enough promotion already – let’s have some fun with the following…

Which terms can you define correctly? (Answers Friday)


a) Business Hiring Among Graduates

b) Big Hairy Audacious Goals

c) British Hiring And Grading

2.Bust someone’s chops

a) Hit someone across the face

b) Convert a meat dish into a vegetarian version

c) Pester or nag someone

3.Cock a snook

a) To make a rude sign to someone with your thumb on your nose, waggling your fingers

b) A variant of the Scottish soup, “Cock-a-leekie”

c) For a farmer to find out their rooster is impotent/sterile

4.Cut to the chase

a) A steeplechasing term mean to accelerate quickly

b) An early Hollywood film term meaning to get quickly to the main action

c) To remove all but strictly essential costs


a) To explain

b) To get someone or something out of a tight spot

c) To edit by removing potentially offensive words

6.Gig economy

a) A computer/IT term, connected with gigabytes

b) Referring to the fashion of outsourcing to contractors rather than salaried employees

c) A brisk way of doing business from the early Italian dance, guigua.

7.Lipstick index

a) A sliding scale that moves easily up and down, like a lipstick does in its case

b) Current colour trends in lipstick, nail colour and eye shadow

c) A correlation between women’s spending habits on cosmetics and the health of the economy generally


a) Management By Wandering Around

b) Master of Business With Accountancy

c) Major Bureaucracy With Apathy

9.Marzipan layer

a) Culinary term used in the patisserie industry

b) Aspiration for almond farmers in California

c) A layer of management just below boardroom level

10.Mezzanine financing

a) An architectural term meaning to acquire additional funds to provide for a mezzanine floor

b) An extra layer of finance beyond the original investment, to boost the business’s chances of success

c) A level of financing available to help companies out of short-term trouble: a type of “pay-day” loan

11.Pay dirt

a) Pay that is at or below the official minimum wage

b) A polite euphemism for “laundered” money

c) A potentially valuable windfall or new discovery


a) A group of people who are happy to work for companies in financial trouble

b) People who have little or no job security to look forward to

c) Blue collar workers who have been promoted into white collar jobs

13.Pushing the envelope

a) To go beyond the expected in a project and see if you can do more to perfect it

b) A recent initiative to maintain the use of conventional postal services

c) A recent initiative to encourage the recycling of paper envelopes

14.Salami tactics

a) A term used in the hospitality industry to describe the use of highly salted amuses bouches snacks served with drinks, to encourage customers to drink more

b) A business term describing plans and projects that can be shelved for some months to ripen and mature, as is the case with salami

c) Usually unpleasant business or political tactics that slice away at their opposition, in the way that salami is sliced before it can be eaten

15.Shake a leg

a) A very politically incorrect medical slang term referring to symptoms of certain neurological conditions

b) A slang term meaning that an individual, business or other organization needs to hurry up

c) A corruption of the name Sheikh Al-Eag, a former ruler of Kuwait

16.Squaring the circle

a) A Masonic term meaning to bring matters to a successful conclusion

b) A term used in country / square dancing, when performers change their routine from a circular to square shape

c) A term borrowed from mathematics wherein “squaring the circle” is almost impossible, and so is used to describe extremely difficult business challenges

17.Straw poll (or straw vote)

a) A term farmers use to pre-assess the quality of straw they’re likely to have given the climate conditions prior to harvest

b) An equestrian industry term that’s used to ascertain the popularity of straw as a source of bedding for stabled horses, as opposed to wood shavings, rubber bedding, etc.

c) a casual and unofficial vote to see how members of a group, company or other organisation feel about a particular issue

18.Take something with a grain/pinch of salt

a) To accept something for what it appears to be, but with some (often humorous) reservations

b) A homeopathic term meaning to add salt to certain medications in order to improve their efficacy

c) A term used by the hospitality industry to remind bar staff how to make proper Margarita cocktails

19.Talk to the hand

a) A term used by people with hearing difficulties, asking others to use sign language if possible

b) A term referring to people recording conversations with a hand-held device, so speakers’ contributions are recorded clearly

c) A rude term meaning that the listener doesn’t care enough to hear what you have to say, so suggests you talk to their hand


a) Someone who does not drink alcohol

b) A golfing term referring to a player who depends too much on tee shots and not enough on the mid-to-short game

c) A clothing manufacturer who specializes in bespoke T-shirts

21.To steal a march on

a) To get your products’ advertising up and running in plenty of time for the Easter rush

b) For a political organization to arrange and conduct a protest march before its rivals have time to arrange an opposing one

c) To obtain an advantage over a business competitor or rival


a) A way of saying something that implies you don’t necessarily believe it

b) A medical term referring to a potentially malignant lesion in the mouth

c) A rather rude expression depicting a sexual innuendo

23.Walk the line

a) A US Police term referring to one of the tests they carry out to determine whether a driver is drunk or not

b) A term from prisoners’ exercise yards in some countries past and present, where they were obliged to exercise by walking along a defined line

c) A term meaning to behave properly, as enshrined by the late Johnny Cash in a song by the same name

24.Widows and orphans

a) A term used commonly in the insurance industry

b) A term used commonly in the funerals industry

c) A text editing term

25.Young Turk

a) A young employee who has lively ideas and is very keen

b) A young employee from eastern Europe and beyond

c) A term used to describe a talented young Turkish chef destined for great things in the hospitality industry

So – how many did you get right? Answers on Friday!

In the meantime … what are the most obscure-yet-interesting business jargon/slang terms you know?

Please share!