World in Brief: Jargonbuster

Worst clichés of 2013

The World Today Updated 7 December 2018 Published 9 December 2013 1 minute READ

Learnings As in ‘we have to apply the learnings from this experience’. The monster has even survived the stake through its heart of featuring in the subtitle of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Right-sizing A euphemism for ‘down-sizing’ that is even more awful than the original.

Twitter storm More than one MP or national journalist has expressed exasperation on Twitter. See also ‘Twitter meltdown’: when a tweeter has closed his or her account in the hope of escaping libel proceedings.

Execute For the best example, see the statement issued by Steve Ballmer, outgoing chief executive of Microsoft, in July: ‘Today’s announcement will enable us to execute even better on our strategy to deliver a family of devices and services that best empower people for the activities they value most and the enterprise extensions and services that are most valuable to business.’

Impactful It is not new, but use in newspapers doubled in 2013. This is distressful.

Economic illiteracy There was a lot of it about this year. There was the Government’s Help-to-Buy mortgage scheme and the Opposition’s energy price freeze plan. Just to remind you of the definitions: ‘economic illiteracy’, I disagree and you’re thick; ‘economic madness’, I disagree and you’re dangerous; ‘economics of the madhouse’, there may be a perverse incentive involved.

Lockdown What happened in Boston when the bombers were found. This term now means that the police have put tape across a street while they take photographs of a car that rolled into a wall.

Red line Not used in the ‘non-negotiable’ sense until The New York Times in 1999. The phrase gained currency when Assad’s forces in Syria crossed Obama’s red line in August. Expect it to be used in rent review negotiations until the mid-century.