Top 46 Slang For Working – Meaning & Usage

In the fast-paced world of work, there’s more to communication than just office jargon. From boardrooms to break rooms, a whole new language has evolved to capture the nuances of the working world. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, this listicle is here to help you navigate the ever-evolving slang for working. We’ve gathered the top phrases and expressions that will have you fitting in with your colleagues and understanding workplace banter like a pro.

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1. Grind

Refers to the act of working hard, often for an extended period of time, to achieve a goal or complete a task.

  • For example, someone might say, “I’ve been grinding all week to finish this project on time.”
  • A motivational quote might say, “Success is the result of grind, not luck.”
  • A person might describe their work ethic by saying, “I’m always on the grind, constantly striving for improvement.”

2. On the grind

This phrase is used to describe someone who is consistently putting in effort and working hard towards their goals.

  • For example, “I’ve been on the grind all week, trying to finish this project.”
  • Someone might say, “She’s always on the grind, never taking a break.”
  • A student might say, “I have exams coming up, so I’ll be on the grind studying all weekend.”

3. Burning the midnight oil

This phrase is used to describe someone who is working late into the night, often sacrificing sleep in order to get work done.

  • For instance, “I have a deadline tomorrow, so I’ll be burning the midnight oil.”
  • Someone might say, “He’s always burning the midnight oil, trying to get ahead.”
  • A student might say, “I have a big test tomorrow, so I’ll be burning the midnight oil studying.”

4. Putting in work

This phrase is used to describe someone who is actively working hard and putting in effort towards their tasks or goals.

  • For example, “She’s really putting in work to meet her sales targets.”
  • Someone might say, “He’s putting in work to improve his skills.”
  • A coach might say to their team, “Keep putting in work and you’ll see results.”

5. Grinding it out

This phrase is used to describe someone who is persistently working towards a goal, often facing challenges or difficulties along the way.

  • For instance, “Even though it’s tough, I’m grinding it out to achieve my dreams.”
  • Someone might say, “She’s been grinding it out for years to build her business.”
  • A student might say, “I’m grinding it out to get my degree, no matter how long it takes.”

6. Workin’ for the weekend

This phrase is used to describe someone who is working hard during the week with the anticipation of enjoying their time off during the weekend.

  • For example, “I may be workin’ for the weekend, but it’ll be worth it.”
  • Someone might say, “I’m just workin’ for the weekend, when I can relax and have fun.”
  • A person might say, “I’m workin’ for the weekend, so I can go on a trip and unwind.”

7. Slaving away

This phrase is used to describe someone who is working tirelessly and putting in a lot of effort. It implies that the person is working long hours and possibly under difficult conditions.

  • For example, “I’ve been slaving away all day trying to meet this deadline.”
  • A co-worker might say, “She’s always slaving away in the office, even on weekends.”
  • Someone might complain, “I feel like I’m slaving away for minimum wage.”

8. Putting your nose to the grindstone

This phrase means to work hard and focus on a task without distractions. It suggests that the person is putting in a lot of effort and is dedicated to achieving their goals.

  • For instance, “I need to put my nose to the grindstone if I want to finish this project on time.”
  • A supervisor might say, “I expect everyone to put their nose to the grindstone and give their best effort.”
  • Someone might encourage a friend, “You can do it! Just put your nose to the grindstone and keep pushing forward.”

9. Working like a dog

This phrase compares someone’s work ethic to that of a dog, known for their loyalty and persistence. It implies that the person is putting in a lot of effort and possibly working long hours.

  • For example, “I’ve been working like a dog to meet this deadline.”
  • A colleague might say, “She’s always working like a dog, never taking a break.”
  • Someone might complain, “I feel like I’m working like a dog and not getting any recognition.”

10. Nose to the grindstone

Similar to “putting your nose to the grindstone,” this phrase means to work hard and focus on a task without distractions. It suggests that the person is putting in a lot of effort and is dedicated to achieving their goals.

  • For instance, “I need to keep my nose to the grindstone if I want to succeed.”
  • A supervisor might say, “I expect everyone to keep their nose to the grindstone and give their best effort.”
  • Someone might encourage a friend, “Don’t give up! Keep your nose to the grindstone and keep pushing forward.”

11. On the clock

This phrase refers to the time when someone is officially working and being paid. It implies that the person is expected to be productive and focused during this time.

  • For example, “I can’t go out for lunch, I’m on the clock.”
  • A manager might say, “You need to be productive while you’re on the clock.”
  • Someone might complain, “I feel like I’m always on the clock, even when I’m not at work.”

12. Working your fingers to the bone

This phrase is used to describe someone who is putting in a lot of effort and working tirelessly.

  • For example, “I’ve been working my fingers to the bone to meet this deadline.”
  • A colleague might say, “She’s always working her fingers to the bone, she never takes a break.”
  • In a conversation about work ethic, someone might mention, “I believe in working hard, but there’s a limit to working your fingers to the bone.”

13. Burning the candle at both ends

This expression is used to describe someone who is working long hours or living a busy and exhausting life.

  • For instance, “She’s been burning the candle at both ends, trying to balance her job and personal life.”
  • A friend might say, “You need to take a break, you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too long.”
  • In a discussion about work-life balance, someone might mention, “Burning the candle at both ends can lead to burnout and health issues.”

14. Nine to five

This phrase refers to the typical working hours of a full-time job, usually from 9 AM to 5 PM.

  • For example, “I work a nine-to-five job, Monday through Friday.”
  • A colleague might say, “I can’t wait for the weekend, I’m tired of the nine-to-five grind.”
  • In a conversation about work schedules, someone might mention, “I prefer flexible hours over the traditional nine-to-five.”

15. Workaholic

A workaholic is a person who is excessively dedicated to their work and has an obsession with working.

  • For instance, “He’s a workaholic, he never takes a break and is always thinking about work.”
  • A friend might say, “You need to relax and take some time off, you’re turning into a workaholic.”
  • In a discussion about work-life balance, someone might mention, “Being a workaholic can lead to neglecting other important aspects of life.”

16. Office jockey

This term is used to describe someone who works in an office or has a desk job.

  • For example, “He’s just an office jockey, he doesn’t know what it’s like to work in the field.”
  • A colleague might say, “I’m tired of being stuck as an office jockey, I want a job that allows me to be more active.”
  • In a conversation about career paths, someone might mention, “Not everyone is cut out to be an office jockey, some people thrive in more hands-on jobs.”

17. Jobber

A term used to refer to someone who works for a living, often in a manual or low-skilled job. It can also be used to describe someone who takes on various odd jobs or gigs.

  • For example, “He’s been working as a jobber at the construction site for years.”
  • In a discussion about the gig economy, someone might say, “Being a jobber allows me to have flexibility in my schedule.”
  • A person might complain, “I’m tired of being a jobber. I want a stable career.”

18. Wage slave

This term is used to describe someone who feels trapped in a job due to financial obligations or lack of better options. It implies that the person is working solely for a paycheck, without any passion or fulfillment.

  • For instance, “I hate being a wage slave. I wish I could do something I love.”
  • In a conversation about work-life balance, someone might say, “I refuse to be a wage slave. I prioritize my personal life.”
  • A person might vent, “I’m tired of being a wage slave. I want to pursue my dreams.”

19. Breadwinner

A term used to describe the person in a household who earns the majority, if not all, of the income. It often refers to the person who supports their family financially.

  • For example, “My father is the breadwinner in our family.”
  • In a discussion about gender roles, someone might say, “Being a breadwinner is no longer limited to men.”
  • A person might express gratitude, “I’m proud to be the breadwinner for my family.”

20. Workhorse

This term is used to describe someone who is known for their strong work ethic and ability to handle a heavy workload. It implies that the person is reliable and can be counted on to get things done.

  • For instance, “She’s the workhorse of the team. She never takes a break.”
  • In a conversation about productivity, someone might say, “I strive to be a workhorse in my job.”
  • A person might compliment a colleague, “You’re such a workhorse. I admire your dedication.”

21. Slog

This term is used to describe the act of working hard and persistently, often in a tedious or unenjoyable job. It implies that the person is putting in a lot of effort and facing challenges.

  • For example, “I’ve been slogging away at this project for weeks.”
  • In a discussion about job satisfaction, someone might say, “I’m tired of the daily slog. I need a change.”
  • A person might complain, “I can’t stand the slog of my job. It’s draining me.”

22. Grunt work

This refers to the low-level, unskilled, or repetitive tasks that are often considered less desirable or less important. “Grunt work” can include things like filing paperwork, cleaning, or running errands.

  • For example, a coworker might say, “I’ve been stuck doing grunt work all day, but someone has to do it.”
  • In a conversation about job responsibilities, someone might mention, “I started off doing grunt work, but I worked my way up to more meaningful tasks.”
  • A manager might delegate grunt work by saying, “I need someone to handle the grunt work for this project.”

23. Work the grindstone

This phrase means to put in a lot of effort and work diligently. It often implies a sense of discipline and perseverance.

  • For instance, a supervisor might encourage their team by saying, “Let’s all work the grindstone and meet our deadline.”
  • In a conversation about success, someone might say, “I’ve been working the grindstone for years to get where I am.”
  • A motivational speaker might say, “If you want to achieve your goals, you have to be willing to work the grindstone.”

24. Put in the hours

This phrase means to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to a task or job. It emphasizes the importance of investing time in order to achieve results.

  • For example, a coworker might say, “I’ve been putting in the hours to finish this project on time.”
  • In a conversation about work-life balance, someone might mention, “Sometimes you have to put in the hours to get ahead, but it’s important to find a balance.”
  • A manager might recognize an employee’s dedication by saying, “I appreciate your willingness to put in the hours to get the job done.”

25. Burn the midnight oil

This phrase means to work late into the night, often sacrificing sleep or personal time in order to complete a task or meet a deadline.

  • For instance, a student might say, “I have to burn the midnight oil to finish this paper.”
  • In a conversation about productivity, someone might mention, “Sometimes you have to burn the midnight oil to get ahead.”
  • A coworker might offer support by saying, “I know you’ve been burning the midnight oil lately. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

26. Pull a shift

This phrase means to work a specific period of time, typically referring to a shift in a job or occupation. It implies a temporary or scheduled period of work.

  • For example, a coworker might say, “I’m pulling a double shift tomorrow to cover for a colleague.”
  • In a conversation about work schedules, someone might mention, “I usually pull the night shift, but I prefer it that way.”
  • A manager might assign a task by saying, “I need someone to pull the morning shift tomorrow.”

27. Clock in/out

When you “clock in” or “clock out,” you use a time clock or electronic system to track your working hours.

  • For example, “Don’t forget to clock in when you arrive at work.”
  • A supervisor might remind an employee, “Make sure to clock out before you leave for the day.”
  • In a conversation about work schedules, someone might ask, “What time do you usually clock in?”

28. Office drone

An “office drone” typically refers to someone who has a repetitive, unexciting job in an office setting.

  • For instance, “I’m tired of being an office drone. I need a more fulfilling career.”
  • A coworker might joke, “We’re all just office drones, working away in our cubicles.”
  • In a discussion about office politics, someone might say, “The office drones are always the last to know what’s going on.”

29. Rat race

The “rat race” refers to the constant competition and struggle to succeed in one’s career.

  • For example, “I feel like I’m stuck in the rat race, always chasing after promotions.”
  • A friend might commiserate, “I’m tired of the rat race. I want to find a job that brings me joy.”
  • In a conversation about work-life balance, someone might say, “I’m trying to find a way to escape the rat race and live a more fulfilling life.”

30. Paper-pusher

A “paper-pusher” is someone who spends a significant amount of time dealing with paperwork and administrative duties.

  • For instance, “I’m tired of being just a paper-pusher. I want a job that allows me to be more creative.”
  • A coworker might complain, “I feel like all I do is push papers around all day. It’s so boring.”
  • In a conversation about job satisfaction, someone might say, “I want a career that allows me to make a real impact, not just be a paper-pusher.”

31. Corporate ladder

The “corporate ladder” refers to the series of hierarchical positions within a company, with each rung representing a higher level of authority or responsibility.

  • For example, “She’s climbing the corporate ladder quickly. She’s already been promoted twice.”
  • A colleague might ask, “How can I move up the corporate ladder and advance my career?”
  • In a discussion about job prospects, someone might say, “I’m not interested in climbing the corporate ladder. I prefer a more flexible and independent career path.”

32. Climb the career ladder

This phrase refers to making progress and moving up in one’s career or profession. It implies the ambition to achieve higher positions or greater success in one’s chosen field.

  • For example, a mentor might advise their mentee, “If you want to succeed, you need to work hard and climb the career ladder.”
  • During a job interview, a candidate might mention, “I’m looking for opportunities where I can climb the career ladder and take on more responsibilities.”
  • In a conversation about professional goals, someone might say, “My ultimate aim is to climb the career ladder and become a CEO.”

33. Bread and butter

This phrase refers to the primary or essential source of income or livelihood. It is often used in the context of one’s job or profession.

  • For instance, someone might say, “My bread and butter is my job as a software engineer.”
  • When discussing financial stability, a person might mention, “I need to find a steady job that can provide me with a reliable bread and butter.”
  • In a conversation about career choices, someone might ask, “What’s your bread and butter? What do you do to make a living?”

34. Work the system

This phrase refers to using one’s knowledge and understanding of rules, processes, or systems to gain an advantage or achieve desired outcomes. It often implies a level of skill or cunning in navigating bureaucratic or organizational structures.

  • For example, a coworker might say, “She knows how to work the system to get what she wants.”
  • In a discussion about corporate politics, someone might advise, “If you want to succeed in this company, you need to learn how to work the system.”
  • A person reflecting on their career might say, “I’ve learned how to work the system over the years, and it has helped me advance in my profession.”

35. Work remotely

This phrase refers to the practice of working outside of a traditional office setting, such as from home or a co-working space. It often involves the use of technology to communicate and collaborate with colleagues.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I have the flexibility to work remotely, so I can avoid commuting and be more productive.”
  • In a discussion about work-life balance, someone might mention, “Working remotely allows me to spend more time with my family and have greater control over my schedule.”
  • A company might advertise a job position as “remote work available” to attract candidates who prefer or require the flexibility of working remotely.
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36. Freelance

This term refers to individuals who work independently and are not committed to a specific employer or company. Freelancers often take on short-term contracts or projects and have the freedom to choose their clients and work arrangements.

  • For example, a freelancer might say, “I love the flexibility of being a freelance graphic designer. I can choose which projects to take on.”
  • In a conversation about career paths, someone might ask, “Have you considered freelancing as a way to work on your own terms?”
  • A person discussing their job might mention, “I used to work full-time, but now I freelance and have more control over my schedule and workload.”

37. Side hustle

A side hustle refers to any additional job or gig that someone takes on in addition to their main source of income. It is often done to earn extra money or pursue a passion outside of regular work hours.

  • For example, “I work as a graphic designer during the day, but my side hustle is selling handmade jewelry online.”
  • Someone might say, “I started a side hustle as a freelance writer to save up for a vacation.”
  • Another person might mention, “My side hustle is tutoring students in math after school.”

38. Jobbing

Jobbing refers to the act of taking on various odd jobs or short-term gigs for income. It often involves performing different tasks or working for different employers on a temporary basis.

  • For instance, “I’ve been jobbing since I graduated college to gain experience in different industries.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been jobbing as a delivery driver, pet sitter, and bartender to make ends meet.”
  • Another might mention, “Jobbing has allowed me to explore different career paths and discover what I’m truly passionate about.”

39. Clocking in

Clocking in refers to the act of officially recording the start of one’s work hours. It is often done by using a time clock or a digital system to track and document the exact time an employee begins their shift.

  • For example, “I always make sure to clock in as soon as I arrive at work.”
  • A person might say, “Don’t forget to clock in before you start working, or your hours won’t be counted.”
  • Another might mention, “Clocking in is an important part of maintaining accurate payroll records.”

40. Punching the clock

Punching the clock refers to the act of physically or digitally recording one’s work hours by pressing a button or card against a time clock. It signifies the start and end of a work shift and is often used to track attendance and calculate wages.

  • For instance, “I punched the clock at 9 AM and punched out at 5 PM.”
  • A person might say, “Punching the clock is a daily ritual that marks the beginning and end of my workday.”
  • Another might mention, “Punching the clock helps ensure that employees are paid accurately for their time worked.”

41. Putting in the hours

Putting in the hours refers to the act of working diligently and consistently for an extended period of time. It implies dedicating a significant amount of time and effort to a task or job in order to achieve desired results.

  • For example, “I’ve been putting in the hours to meet the deadline for this project.”
  • A person might say, “Success doesn’t come easy. You have to put in the hours to see progress.”
  • Another might mention, “Putting in the hours is necessary to excel in any field and reach your goals.”

42. Grinding away

This phrase is used to describe someone who is putting in a lot of effort or working tirelessly.

  • For example, “I’ve been grinding away at this project all day.”
  • A coworker might say, “She’s always grinding away, even on weekends.”
  • Someone might complain, “I feel like I’m constantly grinding away and never getting a break.”

43. Working the daily grind

This phrase refers to the monotonous and repetitive nature of daily work.

  • For instance, “I’m tired of working the daily grind, I need a change.”
  • A friend might ask, “How are you handling the daily grind?”
  • Someone might comment, “I’ve been working the daily grind for years, it’s time for a vacation.”

44. Working the 9 to 5

This phrase is used to describe someone who has a typical office job with regular working hours.

  • For example, “I’m tired of working the 9 to 5, I want more flexibility.”
  • A colleague might say, “She’s been working the 9 to 5 for years and loves it.”
  • Someone might comment, “Working the 9 to 5 can be challenging, but it provides stability.”

45. Working the grindstone

This phrase refers to someone who is diligently working and putting in a lot of effort.

  • For instance, “He’s always working the grindstone, never taking a break.”
  • A coworker might say, “She’s been working the grindstone to meet the deadline.”
  • Someone might comment, “Working the grindstone is necessary for success, but it can be exhausting.”

46. Working the salt mines

This phrase is used to describe someone who is doing hard and demanding work.

  • For example, “I’ve been working the salt mines all day, I’m exhausted.”
  • A friend might ask, “How’s it going in the salt mines?”
  • Someone might comment, “Working the salt mines can be physically and mentally draining.”