Email may not be cool anymore, but it's still king of the modern workplace.
The average office worker receives over 800 per week, and close to 250 Billion are sent daily around the world.
But just because it's ubiquitous doesn't mean it's a clear method of communication. From "FYI" to TGIF," email has spawned a whole lexicon of jargon used to obscure meaning, intimidate colleagues, or communicate passive aggression.
The catalogue of Email jargon includes 34 terms to date, including 5 acronyms, 10 buzzwords, and 19 catchphrases.
Boiling the ocean
What it means: How consultants say 'doing analysis.'
CCing the team
What it means: Phrase used in emails when witnesses are needed to confirm that the recipient has made an error.
Can you own this?
What it means: Pseudo-empowering way of assigning work to someone else.
Close the loop
What it means: Expression used by managers when re-assigning a task they believe has been forgotten.
What it means: You completely fucked up, but you're not fired yet.
How can I help
Business definition: The expression 'how can I help' is often used by management to conclude meetings with underlings. It may also be used by VCs when communicating with portfolio companies. The implication of the term is that the manager or VC is "working together" with the other party, not simply using financial leverage to impose control over their activities.
What it means: Term used by executives and VCs when meeting with employees or founders with 'actual skills,' to imply that their advice 'adds value.'
How can we avoid this in the future?
What it means: Phrase used to express dissapointment to peers when you do not have the power to fire them.
Just wanted to check in
What it means: Term employed to remind recipient that they have missed a deadline.
Just wanted to put this on your radar
What it means: Expression commonly used in email and Slack when calling attention to something negative, in order to avoid being blamed for it at a later date.
Keep me honest
What it means: Expression used by executives when promising things they're not sure are actually possible.
Let's take this offline
What it means: Magic phrase that allows you to deflect any conversation you don't want to have, by suggesting that the best place to discuss it is 'offline.'
My door is always open
What it means: Don't contact me unless it's absolutely critical.
Open the kimono
What it means: Like flashing, but with proprietary business intelligence instead of private parts, and rewarded with a place on the board rather than the sex offendor registry.
Out of pocket
Business definition: Term commonly used to let coworkers or employees know that you will be absent, but in a way that defines the workplace as "pocket," thus implying that it is not particularly important to be there.
What it means: Absent from work, but at the executive level.
Per my last email
Business definition: When your goal is to communicate controlled aggression about an ongoing project, using the opening line "Per my last email..." is an excellent way to do so.
What it means: Expression used to open emails, when the purpose of that email is to draw attention to a team member's failure. Often combined with CCing the boss to maximize effectiveness.
Please don't hesitate to contact me
What it means: Term used in emails to denote dissapointment at how many times you've had to explain the topic being discussed.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns!
What it means: Do not question this project, just do it.
Thanks in advance
What it means: Term used to skip the conversation when assigning tasks via email.
What's the game plan
Business definition: The term "what's the game plan" is one of many sports analogies used in the business context, used to draw a parallel between the game of football/soccor/etc and the gamification of capitalism.
What it means: Expression used by managers to open meetings, when they were supposed to have developed a roadmap or agenda for the team, but instead expect the team to do that part of their job for them.
Business definition: A list of things you will do based on the content of a meeting.
What it means: A polite method of describing orders given to a team, when those orders should have been given weeks ago, and the effective due date is tomorrow.
Business definition: The term "circle back" suggests that a topic is important, but that it should be returned to later in the conversation.
What it means: A gentle way of saying 'this is not worth discussing, and we will never discuss it.' Commonly used in emails.
What it means: Obnoxious method of saying 'tell me more about that.'
Business definition: The term "Friyay" is a combination of "Friday" and "yay" used in emails sent on Fridays, to express joy that the weekend is about to start.
What it means: The saddest word possible to type in an email.
Business definition: The expression 'Hump Day' refers to Wednesday, as it is the top of the curve from Monday to Friday. At the end of Wednesday, an office worker has 'made it over the hump.'
What it means: Contact me by literally any means other than a phone call, because I will be ignoring you for at least a day.
What it means: Term used in emails to passive-aggresively imply the person is bothering you.
Business definition: The term "sunset" is used to express the process of retiring or getting rid of something, such as an app feature; or in the context of HR departments, humans.
What it means: A poetic method of saying 'shut it down.'
Business definition: The term "sync up" is commonly used in internal emails and conversations to describe one-on-one meetings with no purpose other than to understand what the other person is doing (or does in general).
What it means: Polite method for asking for an hour of a team member's time to ask them to repeat everything they already told you in other meetings.
What it means: Term used when adding a manager to an email thread, to ensure that you are not later blamed for the content of the thread.
Business definition: “COB” stands for “Close Of Business”. COB is used in emails to mean 'close of business.' Similar to EOD (End of Day) and EOW (End of Week), there is some disagreement about the specific time of day expected by the sender.
Business definition: “FYI” stands for “For Your Information”.
What it means: Acronym commonly used when forwarding email threads as forensic evidence to an underling, peer, or manager.
Business definition: “QQ” stands for “Quick Question”.
Business definition: “SaaS” stands for “Software as a Service”. SaaS, also known as Software as a Service, is a web-based model of software licensing and delivery in which centrally hosted data and services can be accessed from nearly any device with an internet connection and browser.
Business definition: “TGIF” stands for “Thank God It's Friday”.