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Title: Buzzword  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Propaganda, Propaganda techniques, Management consulting, Best practice, Criminalization of politics
Collection: Buzzwords, Propaganda Techniques Using Words, Rhetorical Techniques
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A buzzword is a word or phrase that becomes very popular for a period of time. It may be a technical term and may have little meaning, being simply used to impress others.[1][2] Buzzwords often originate in jargon, acronyms, or neologisms.[3] Business speech is particularly vulnerable to buzzwords. Examples of overworked business buzzwords include synergy, vertical, dynamic, cyber and strategy; a common buzzword phrase is "think outside the box".[4]

It has been stated that businesses could not operate without buzzwords as they are shorthands or internal shortcuts that make perfect sense to people informed of the context.[5] However, a useful buzzword can become co-opted into general popular speech and lose its usefulness. According to management professor Robert Kreitner, "Buzzwords are the literary equivalent of Gresham's Law. They will drive out good ideas."[6]

Buzzwords also feature prominently in politics, where they can result in a process which "privileges rhetoric over reality, producing policies that are 'operationalized' first and only 'conceptualized' at a later date". The resulting political speech is known for "eschewing reasoned debate (as characterized by the use of evidence and structured argument), instead employing language exclusively for the purposes of control and manipulation".[7]

The term buzz word was first used in 1946 as student slang.[8]


  • In popular culture 1
  • See also 2
  • Footnotes 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5

In popular culture

Jon Keegan of the Wall Street Journal has published a Business Buzzwords Generator, which allows readers to use a randomizer to assemble "meaningless business phrases using overused business buzzwords" - for example, "This product will incentivize Big Data and demonstrate innovative performance in the playing field.”[9]

Forbes hosts an annual "Jargon Madness" game, in which 32 of "corporate America’s most insufferable expressions" are played off against each other in a bracketed, bastketball-style tournament to determine the buzzword of the year.[10]

External links

  • Negus, K. Pickering, M. 2004. Creativity, Communication and Cultural Value. Sage Publications Ltd
  • Collins, David. 2000. Management fads and buzzwords : critical-practical perspectives. London ; New York : Routledge
  • Godin, B. 2006. The Knowledge-Based Economy: Conceptual Framework or Buzzword?. The Journal of technology transfer 31 (1): 17-.

Further reading

  1. ^
  2. ^ Compare: "buzzword n. orig. and chiefly U.S. a keyword; a catchword or expression currently fashionable; a term used more to impress than to inform, esp. a technical or jargon term."  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ - definition of buzzword
  4. ^ Compare:
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^


See also

The "Weird Al" Yankovic album "Mandatory Fun" contains the song "Mission Statement," which is a long list of essentially meaningless buzzwords. [14]

Patch Products has published a board game called Buzz Word.[13]

Sometimes when people are approaching a meeting where they expect the presenters to use many buzzwords, they will prepare a game of Buzzword bingo, where players score points each time a particular buzzword is used.[12]


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