A buzzword is a term of art, salesmanship, politics, or technical jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

 that is used in the media and wider society outside of its originally narrow technical context.

Buzzwords differ from jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

 in that jargon is esoteric but precisely defined terminology used for ease of communication between specialists in a given field, whereas a buzzword (which often develops from the appropriation of technical jargon) is often used in a more general way.

Reported examples of the use of buzzwords

  • Thought-control via intentional vagueness. In management
    Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

    , by stating organization goals with opaque words of unclear meaning; their positive connotations prevent questioning of intent, especially when many buzzwords are used. (See newspeak
    Newspeak is a fictional language in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the novel, it refers to the deliberately impoverished language promoted by the state. Orwell included an essay about it in the form of an appendix in which the basic principles of the language are explained...

  • To inflate the trivial to something of importance and stature.
  • To impress a judge or an examiner by seeming to know a legal psychologic theory or a quantum physics principle, by name-dropping it, e.g. "cognitive dissonance
    Cognitive dissonance
    Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying,...

    ", the "Heisenberg uncertainty principle
    Uncertainty principle
    In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be simultaneously known...

  • To camouflage chit-chat saying nothing.

Individual examples

Below are a few examples of words that are commonly used as buzzwords. For a more complete list, see list of buzzwords.
  • Going Forward
  • Leverage
    Leverage (disambiguation)
    Leverage and leveraged may refer to:*The use of a lever*Leverage , a type of dance connection*Leverage , using given resources to magnify the financial outcome**Leveraged buyout, using debt to gain control of a company's equity...

  • Long Tail
    Long tail
    Long tail may refer to:*The Long Tail, a consumer demographic in business*Power law's long tail, a statistics term describing certain kinds of distribution*Long-tail boat, a type of watercraft native to Southeast Asia...

  • Next Generation
  • Paradigm
    The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" , "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" , "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" , "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" , "to show, to point out".The original Greek...

  • Paradigm shift
    Paradigm shift
    A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

  • Incentivize

See also

  • Buzzword bingo
    Buzzword bingo
    Buzzword bingo is a bingo-style game where participants prepare bingo cards with buzzwords and tick them off when they are uttered during an event, such as a meeting or speech...

  • Buzzword compliant
    Buzzword compliant
    In the technology industry, buzzword compliant is a tongue-in-cheek expression used to suggest that a particular product supports features simply because they are currently fashionable...

  • Golden hammer
    Golden hammer
    The concept known as the law of the instrument, Maslow's hammer, or a golden hammer is an over-reliance on a familiar tool; as Abraham Maslow said in 1966, "It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."-History:The first recorded statement of the...

  • List of buzzwords
  • Marketing buzz
    Marketing buzz
    Marketing buzz or simply buzz — a term used in word-of-mouth marketing — is the interaction of consumers and users of a product or service which serves to amplify the original marketing message. a vague but positive association, excitement, or anticipation about a product or service...

  • Marketing speak
  • Memetics
    Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene. It purports to be an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer. A meme, analogous to a gene, is essentially a "unit of...

  • Power word
  • Psychobabble
    Psychobabble is a form of prose using jargon, buzzwords and highly esoteric language to give an impression of plausibility through mystification, misdirection, and obfuscation. The term implies that the speaker of psychobabble lacks the experience and understanding necessary for proper use of a...

  • Virtue word
    Virtue word
    A virtue word tends to invoke a positive image when placed in the appropriate context. This can be used for the purposes of positive commentary or description in marketing and propaganda....

  • Weasel word
    Weasel word
    A weasel word is an informal term for equivocating words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim, or even a refutation has been communicated.For example, an advertisement may use a weasel phrase...

Further reading

  • 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-.

External links

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