Stop asking to ‘touch base’ and ‘think outside the box’ - the most loathed jargon phrases revealed

What's your pet hate?

By Deborah Price, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 12th November 2020, 10:50 am

Research has revealed a list of the UK's most loathed jargon phrases.

Topping the list of the nation’s most insufferable sayings was ‘touch base’, quickly followed by ‘sliding into DMs’ then ‘thinking outside the box’.

The place we most frequently see or hear jargon is social media, with 40% of us agreeing it’s the most frequent offender for spewing jargon, closely followed by the news (33%) and the government announcements we’ve been tuning in to over the past few months (28%). Nearly one in five (19%) hear most jargon at work. It's all according to research commissioned by mobile network SMARTY.

Interestingly, much of this commonplace office speak is lost on many workers. 66% of people admit they don’t know what ‘spit balling ideas’ means, while 25% say they have no idea what ‘touch base’ means either. It’s unsurprising then that 2.8 million people in the UK admit that every single day they go along with a conversation or reply to an email pretending to know what’s being said when they in fact have no idea what the jargon being used means.

To help keep things simple for the nation, SMARTY Mobile has teamed up with award-winning comedian and actor Guz Khan – known for roles including Man like Mobeen and featuring on Live at the Apollo. Together they have dissected the nation’s most hated phrases to form a world-first ‘Jargonary’, offering real and honest descriptions into what people really mean when they’re telling you to ‘play hardball’ or get your ‘ducks in a row’. Brits confused by jargon can tweet @SMARTYMobileUK for their chance to win a copy.

Guz Khan, award-winning comedian and actor said: “Life is complicated enough without us using crazy jargon. The way I see it is no-one actually knows what people mean when they’re asking to touch base or spit ball ideas, it’s nonsense! I’ve teamed up with SMARTY Mobile to write the Jargonary, a dictionary of silly jargon phrases to shut this madness down and to keep things nice and simple.”

Sayed Hajamaideen, head of marketing and propositions at SMARTY Mobile said: “Right now it feels like we’re living in a world of double-speak, so we’re proud to partner with Guz Khan to create a book that deciphers tricky jargon phrases we hear every day. SMARTY Mobile is all about keeping things simple. Our no-nonsense approach gives choice and flexibility, something we all need a bit of in these ever-changing times.”

Jargon BUSTED. Photo: Shutterstock

While our workplaces may seem to be homeplace of buzz words and jargon, 28% of the UK believe we hear the most jargon in government briefings. A further 28% of us admit to still being confused by some of the jargon that has come about since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, with ‘travel corridors’ (24%), ‘herd immunity’ (20%) and ‘flattening the curve’ (18%) the top phrases in our new coronavirus vocabulary that still puzzle us.

Generational jargon also has the country divided, with half (50%) of Brits confessing they find it difficult to understand young people because of the jargon they use.

The UK's Top 10 most loathed jargon phrases:

1) Touch base (24%)

2) Slide into DMs (24%)

3) Think outside the box (22%)

4) Spit balling ideas (21%)

5) Helicopter thinking (21%)

6) Bang for the buck (18%)

7) Low hanging fruit (16%)

8) Play hardball (15%)

9) Ducks in a row (13%)

10) Out of the loop (13%)