Top 20 Slang For Workplace – Meaning & Usage

The workplace is not just a space for serious business, it’s also a hub for quirky phrases and inside jokes that keep the atmosphere light and entertaining. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new hire, keeping up with workplace slang can make you feel like part of the team. So, we’ve put together a list of the top slang for the workplace that will have you laughing, nodding in agreement, and feeling like an insider in no time. Get ready to impress your coworkers with your newfound knowledge!

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1. Work like a dog

– For example, “I’ve been working like a dog all week to meet the deadline.”

  • A coworker might say, “He works like a dog, always staying late and taking on extra projects.”
  • In a conversation about work ethic, someone might comment, “If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to work like a dog.”

2. Knock the wind out of our sails

– For instance, “The news of the company’s bankruptcy really knocked the wind out of our sails.”

  • After a failed project, a team leader might say, “This setback has definitely knocked the wind out of our sails, but we’ll bounce back.”
  • A coworker might sympathize and say, “I know that feeling. It can be tough when something unexpected happens and knocks the wind out of your sails.”

3. Take a shot in the dark

– For example, “I’m not sure which option is the best, but I’ll take a shot in the dark and see what happens.”

  • When brainstorming ideas, someone might suggest, “Let’s take a shot in the dark and try something completely different.”
  • A team member might ask, “Do you have any ideas, or should we just take a shot in the dark and hope for the best?”

4. Provide a ballpark figure

– For instance, “Can you provide a ballpark figure for the cost of the project?”

  • A manager might say, “We don’t need an exact number right now, just give us a ballpark figure.”
  • When discussing budgeting, someone might ask, “Can you provide a ballpark figure for how much we’ll need to allocate for marketing?”

5. Throw a curveball

– For example, “The new client’s demands really threw a curveball into our project.”

  • A coworker might say, “I wasn’t expecting that. They really threw us a curveball with this new requirement.”
  • When discussing a difficult task, someone might comment, “We need to be prepared for anything. The client could always throw a curveball at us.”

6. Raise the bar

This phrase means to set a higher expectation or standard for performance or quality. It is often used to encourage improvement or challenge others to do better.

  • For example, a manager might say, “Let’s raise the bar and aim for higher sales this quarter.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might tell their team, “We need to raise the bar and push harder in practice.”
  • A colleague might compliment someone’s work by saying, “You really raised the bar with that presentation.”

7. Return to the drawing board

This expression is used when a plan or idea has failed or is not successful, and it is necessary to go back to the beginning and come up with a new approach.

  • For instance, if a project doesn’t meet the desired outcome, someone might say, “Looks like we’ll have to return to the drawing board.”
  • In a brainstorming session, if an idea is not feasible, a team member might suggest, “Let’s go back to the drawing board and come up with something else.”
  • A manager might say to their team, “The initial strategy didn’t work, so we’ll need to return to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.”

8. 9 to 5

This phrase refers to the typical working hours of a full-time job, which are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is often used to describe a traditional work schedule.

  • For example, someone might say, “I work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.”
  • If someone asks about your availability, you might reply, “I’m only available outside of my 9 to 5 job.”
  • A friend might complain, “I wish I didn’t have to work the typical 9 to 5 schedule.”

9. Cubicle farm

This term describes an office space where cubicles are arranged in a grid-like pattern, often with little privacy between each workspace. It is sometimes used to convey a negative or impersonal work environment.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I hate working in a cubicle farm. There’s no privacy.”
  • If describing their workplace, an employee might say, “Our office is like a cubicle farm.”
  • A colleague might joke, “Welcome to the cubicle farm, where dreams go to die.”

10. Watercooler talk

This phrase refers to casual conversations that typically take place around a watercooler or other communal area in the workplace. It often involves discussions about non-work-related topics or gossip.

  • For example, someone might say, “I heard some interesting gossip during watercooler talk.”
  • If asked about office culture, an employee might mention, “We have a lot of watercooler talk in our office.”
  • A colleague might joke, “The real work gets done during watercooler talk.”

11. Slack off

When someone is slacking off, they are not focused on their work and may be wasting time on non-work-related activities. This term is often used to describe someone who is not putting in the effort or is being lazy at work.
-For example, “Don’t slack off on your assignments, we have a deadline to meet.”
-A coworker might complain, “I can’t believe he’s always slacking off while the rest of us are working.”
-A manager might say, “We need to address the issue of employees slacking off during work hours.”

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12. Blue-sky thinking

Blue-sky thinking refers to brainstorming or coming up with ideas that are imaginative and unrestricted by practical considerations. It encourages thinking outside the box and exploring new possibilities.
-For instance, “Let’s engage in some blue-sky thinking and come up with innovative solutions.”
-During a team meeting, someone might suggest, “We need to incorporate more blue-sky thinking into our projects.”
-A manager might encourage their team by saying, “Don’t be afraid to engage in blue-sky thinking and explore unconventional ideas.”

13. Workaholic

A workaholic is someone who is excessively dedicated to their work and has a compulsive need to work long hours. They may prioritize work over other aspects of their life, often neglecting personal relationships and self-care.
-For example, “He’s such a workaholic, he’s always at the office late into the night.”
-A coworker might comment, “I admire her work ethic, but she needs to find a balance and not become a workaholic.”
-A friend might express concern, “I’m worried about him, he’s becoming a workaholic and neglecting his health.”

14. Break room

The break room is a communal space in the workplace where employees can take a break from work, eat meals, socialize, and relax. It is typically equipped with tables, chairs, a refrigerator, microwave, and sometimes entertainment options.
-For instance, “Let’s meet in the break room for lunch.”
-During a break, a coworker might ask, “Do you want to grab a coffee in the break room?”
-A manager might remind employees, “Please clean up after yourselves in the break room and keep it tidy.”

15. Dress code

A dress code is a set of guidelines or rules that dictate the appropriate clothing and appearance for employees in a workplace. It helps maintain a professional and consistent image for the organization and ensures that employees adhere to certain standards of dress.
-For example, “The dress code for this event is formal attire.”
-A coworker might ask, “What’s the dress code for the company party?”
-A company policy might state, “The dress code is business casual, no jeans or sneakers allowed.”

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16. Out of office

This term refers to someone who is not currently in the office or unavailable to work. It typically indicates that the person is on vacation, traveling, or away from their regular work location.

  • For example, if someone sends an email and receives an automated response saying, “I am currently out of the office,” it means that person is not available.
  • A coworker might ask, “Is John in the office today?” and another coworker could reply, “No, he’s out of office until next week.”
  • In a team meeting, someone might mention, “Sarah will be out of office for the rest of the day, so please contact me if you need anything.”

17. Office jargon

This term refers to the specific vocabulary or phrases that are commonly used in a particular workplace or industry. It may include technical terms, acronyms, or buzzwords that are unique to the workplace.

  • For instance, in a tech company, phrases like “agile development,” “sprint planning,” or “UX/UI design” might be considered office jargon.
  • During a presentation, a coworker might say, “I’ll explain this concept using some office jargon, so bear with me.”
  • If someone is new to a company, they might ask, “Can you explain some of the office jargon used here? I’m not familiar with all the terms.”

18. Team building

This term refers to activities or exercises that are designed to improve relationships and communication among members of a team. Team building activities can include games, workshops, or outings that aim to foster trust, cooperation, and camaraderie.

  • For example, a company might organize a team building retreat where employees participate in outdoor challenges and team-building exercises.
  • During a team meeting, a manager might say, “We need to schedule a team building activity to strengthen our bond as a team.”
  • A coworker might suggest, “Let’s do a team building exercise during our lunch break to get to know each other better.”

19. Micromanager

This term refers to a manager who excessively monitors and controls the work of their subordinates. A micromanager is someone who is overly involved in the day-to-day tasks of their team members, often to the point of stifling creativity and autonomy.

  • For instance, a micromanager might constantly check in on their employees, request frequent progress updates, and dictate exactly how tasks should be done.
  • In a conversation about work frustrations, someone might say, “My boss is such a micromanager. I can’t make any decisions without their approval.”
  • A coworker might complain, “I feel like I’m being micromanaged. My manager is always looking over my shoulder and questioning my every move.”

20. Clock-watcher

This term refers to a person who is constantly aware of the clock and is eager to finish work or leave as soon as possible. A clock-watcher is often seen as someone who is more focused on the end of the workday than on their actual work.

  • For example, a coworker might say, “Don’t be a clock-watcher. We still have a lot of work to do.”
  • During a meeting that is running longer than expected, someone might jokingly say, “I can see some clock-watchers in the room getting antsy.”
  • If someone consistently leaves the office right at the end of the workday, a coworker might comment, “Looks like John is a clock-watcher. He never stays a minute longer.”