Erik Devaney, Editor of HubSpot’s ReadThink, has written an informative post on corporate jargon, or,“Why do business-people talk like that?”

It is easy to think light of corporate jargon. There is, however, a serious side to consider when performing research. Being aware of what the current day jargon is, even though it can at times be silly, can be helpful in retrieving results that are current and relevant. One search strategy to consider when you are retrieving irrelevant results (we’ve all been there) is to use terms that you think the author might use in his or her writing, not what you think the author should use.

This article is filled with wonderful little nuggets such as:

“…the word jargon dates back to the Middle Ages and originally referred to a sound that birds made.”

“’Thinking outside the box,’ for example, is a reference to a logic puzzle, which requires that you connect a 3×3 ‘box’ of 9 dots using four straight lines or fewer — without lifting your pen or pencil off the paper…The trick is that you need to drag your line outside of the box in order to complete the puzzle.'”

“The term aboveboard, meanwhile, was likely born out of the requirement that card players keep their hands above the table as a way to discourage cheating.”

Perhaps the most interesting section focuses on the theories for its use, even though users know it can be incomprehensible or vague: Here are a few of the leading theories:

  1. It’s a power move. 
  2. It reinforces belonging. 
  3. It makes it easier to talk about uncomfortable topics.