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Glossary of Terminology and Definitions for Business and Management

This glossary of business terms and definitions includes the main terminology used in business, plus many more unusual, interesting and amusing words and expressions found in business and management, and the wider world of work and modern life.

The definitions are designed to be quick, easy and enjoyable to read. It's not meant to be an encyclopedia.

Please send your suggestions for additional terms, and any corrections.

If you can't find a term try the search box at the top of the page. There are many other subjects covered on this website aside from these dictionary definitions.

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Some of these terms can have different meanings in situations outside of business and management, and some can even have different meanings in different areas of business. Generally this glossary lists the most common uses and meanings.

If you hear or read a term which does not make sense according to the definition in this dictionary, check elsewhere or ask the person what he/she meant. People do not always use terminology correctly, which means it's very important to seek clarification when you hear a strange term. Seeking clarification can be helpful for others too who might not be so bold as to ask.

Recently added definitions are shown on the right.

Please note that UK-English spellings for words such as colour, behaviour are different to US-English spellings (color, behavior). UK-English spellings of many words ending in 'ise', such as organise, realise, etc., may also appear on this page (compared to US-English 'ize'). Please adapt the materials for your own situation accordingly.


1.4142 - The diagonal (approximate, to four decimal places) of a 1 x 1 square, also known as Pythagoras's Constant, and therefore also the ratio (1:1.4142) for calculating the diagonal side of a right-angled triangle in which the two short sides are of equal length.

1.6180 - The Golden Number (to four decimal places). Also known as the Golden Section, Divine Proportion, and phi (pronounced 'fy' as in the word 'fly') the twenty-first letter of the Greek alphabet . Also loosely referred to as Golden Ratio (1:1.618). Phi is used intentionally or instinctively in many different areas of design, for example architecture, music, and art. Phi is also an easy 'secret' to achieving aesthetically pleasing positioning and proportions. The Golden Ratio is found in diverse designs such as Stradivarius violins, the Pyramids, Notre Dame Cathedral, and in nature, for example the human face.

3.14159 - Pi, normally represented by the Greek letter pi (P) symbol π. Pi is typically used for calculating the area (π x radius squared) or circumference (π x diameter) of a circle. Pi has an infinite number of decimal places, and fascinates mathematicians in calculating pi itself, and memory experts too in memorizing as much of it as possible.

4/4 - Four beats to the bar, the most common rhythm in music.

10:10 - A UK environmental campaign that asks businesses, organisations and individuals to cut their carbon emissions by 10% in the year 2010.

13 - The most superstitious number, 13 affects business in surprising ways through absenteeism, cancellations, and design. Western airlines, for example, tend not to have seats and rows numbered 13. Friday 13th is a particularly superstitious date. Friday and the number 13 derive their superstitious reputations mostly from Christian beliefs and Norse folklore.

21-Gun Salute - Traditional honour given to royalty and heads of state, derived from the old signal of peaceful intent, when multiple firing practically removed capability for immediate threat due to re-loading time.

24-Carat/Karat - The purest form of gold (karat is US-English spelling, too soft for jewellery, hence gold jewellery is made of 22-carat, 18-carat, or 9-carat gold, etc., in which other metals such as copper are mixed. Carat is a measure of purity in which 24 parts equate (virtually) to 100% gold. 18-carat is therefore 75% gold. Less than 10-carat gold is generally not sold as gold. The carat measure of diamonds is different, for which carat is a measure of weight (1 carat = 200mg).

24-hour Society - Refers to a way of life available to many in the modern world in which people can work socialize, shop, bank, etc., 24 hours a day. The phenomenon has caused significant new thinking in business, management, marketing, etc., and continues to do so.

24/7 - Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

38 Ways of Persuasion - The classic semi-serious guide to winning arguments featuring in The Art of Always Being Right, by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).

64,000 dollar/pound question - The key or crucial question in a particular issue, deriving from an old US radio quiz game show called Take It Or Leave It, in which $64 was the top prize (it was an old show..). The show first aired in 1940 (ending in 1947), in which up to seven progressively more difficult questions were asked of each contestant, beginning with a one dollar prize, doubling each time a question was successfully answered and the option to 'leave it' rather than 'take it' (the prize money) was preferred. Giving a wrong answer ended the game and the potential prize money was lost. During the 1940s the expression "sixty-four dollar question" became popular in the US referring to a very challenging question. The show relaunched on radio in 1950 as "The $64 Question" and ran for two more years. Reflecting inflation, and more notably the growing power of commercial TV, the show's next relaunch was in 1955 as "The $64,000 Question". The expression adapted accordingly and has endured and spread, despite the short life of the new 1955 TV show and a couple of subsequent relaunch attempts and name variations. More recently the expression is frequently adapted to refer to a sum of 64-million dollars or pounds, which is not wildly disproportionate with big money prizes in modern times. It is incredible to think that $64 dollars was once - within living memory - a big money game show prize.

72 Rule - More commonly known as the Rule of 72, with variations 69 and 70, these are standard figures used by financial folk in calculating quickly the years required for an investment to double (or to halve) at a given interest rate. Typically 72 is divided by the compound interest rate to give the approximate years. 72 is more popular than 69 or 70 because it is quite reliable and easily divisible quickly by lots of different numbers.

80/20 Rule - The theory that 20% of effort produces 80% of results, and very many similar effects; also known as Pareto Rule or Pareto Principle, after its originator.

86 - 'Secret' code used by restaurant and bar staff when refusing service or ejecting a customer from the premises, and more recently referring to a menu item not available, which is sometimes a lie to achieve the first meaning. The term has existed since the early 1900s and no-one knows the true derivation, although increasingly daft ones are suggested.

360 Degree Thinking - A term used for considering all options in business, etc., as opposed to having narrow field vision.

360 Degree Feedback - An appraisal method typically entailing feedback about a manager given by fellow workers. See appraisals .


Numbers A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A la Carte - Technically à la carte, an eating-place menu from which individual dishes at separate prices can be ordered, or less commonly where a side dish may be ordered at no extra charge, from the French phrase meaning 'to the menu'. Increasingly now applied to non-food services in which individual selections are offered rather than fixed provisions.

A1 - Top quality rating, applicable to various business situations, e.g., credit-worthiness, and more general references to quality and fitness for purpose.

Abilene Paradox - A feature/cause of many poor or daft decisions by groups or committees, in which the collective (unanimous or group) decision is considered wrong or silly by individual members, and/or is clearly wrong or silly from an rational standpoint. The term is from Jerry B Harvey's book The Abilene Paradox and other Meditations on Management (Jossey-Bass, 1988): a family decide to go to Abilene, as suggested by a family member who believes others might want to go, although he had no strong personal view himself. The trip was a waste of time, after which it emerged that no-one wanted to go. The wrong group decision was caused by individual reserve and politeness, faulty assumption/assessment of the true wishes of others, combined with urge to 'follow the herd'. The group's members form false impressions of the group's preference, and blindly follow it. The effect is related, but slightly different from a risk in elections and especially tactical voting, whereby the collective effect produces an outcome nobody wants. This 'daft group decision' effect may also be likened to group decision outcomes represented by expressions such as 'designed by committee' and 'a camel is a horse designed by a committee', both of which seek to illustrate that group decisions often produce unhelpful or poor quality outcomes. The tendency is an example of 'heuristic' thinking (specifically 'following the herd' ), where decisions are made instinctively and emotionally, rather than logically and rationally, and relates strongly to Nudge theory and the heuristics within it.

Above The Fold - Originally a newspaper editorial/advertising term referring to the upper-half of the front page ('above the fold') in terms of its immediate and optimal viewing viewing position. More recently 'above the fold' has been adopted and adapted for use in internet terminology, where it refers to the upper section of a webpage that is viewable without scrolling down the page. 'Above the fold' is therefore a reference to the best (most read) position in online/printed media such that it commands highest demand/prices for editorial/advertising. It is by its nature a rather loose term, dependent on the publication itself, and especially given the different screen sizes and page layouts for content viewable online using PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.

Above The Line - Marketing and advertising through mass-media, such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, Internet, etc., which is less personal than Below The Line Marketing. Companies usually use advertising agencies for ATL marketing. See marketing .

Abram's Law - Construction industry theory relating to concrete strength as determined by the ratio of water to cement.

Absolute Advantage - Being able to produce goods more cheaply than other countries.

Abstract - A brief summary covering the main points of a written article or research project.

Accelerator - A company which supplies office space, marketing services, etc., in exchange for payment, to help get new companies started.

Acceptance Bonus - The amount paid to an employee who agrees to perform a difficult task.

Accessibility - Refers to the ease by which an audience is able to receive, understand and act upon communications and services from businesses, big corporations, agencies, local and central government. Accessibility is a relatively modern concept, becoming increasingly prominent from the late 1900s, especially concerning state services, and particularly for disadvantaged, disabled, or minority groups of people. The concept and central principles of accessibility are however very relevant and important for all communicators, on a personal and organizational level. Major factors of accessibility include: language and grammar style, translation (where required), font/print size, typeface/font style, design, technical ease (relating to electronic media), media types/versions (web, print, audio, video, as required), timings and availability of information, detail and complexity, esoterica , gobbledegook , legalese . See writing tips .

Accounts - An individual's or company's financial records. Also an arrangement to keep money with a financial institution, e.g., a bank, building society, etc. See financial terms .

Accretion - Growth or increase in the value or amount of something. See financial terms .

Accrual - The accumulation of payments or benefits over time.

Across The Board - The involvement of, or affect on, everyone or everything in an industry or company.

Activity-Based Costing - An accounting/business term and method of profitability analysis which calculates and includes all business costs attributable to (used by) a particular business activity (typically a service provision of one sort or another for a given market). Conventional accounting tends not to allocate fixed/indirect costs per activity, which creates risks of overheads not being adequately recovered, or overheads being drained or over-burdened by one activity or another (the activity concerned thereby seeming a lot more profitable than it actually is, quite aside from the negative effects on other activities which may be starved of essential indirect support). The Activity-Based Costing (ABC) method analyses and allocates fixed/indirect costs according to usage by services, and so brings far greater transparency and clarity to inform strategic decision-making. In large organizations Activity-Based Costing tends to require quite complex computerized systems, and in very large organizations the allocation of overheads implicit within the ABC approach may generate significant political/departmental conflict, especially where staff productivity/profitability targets and rewards depend on the outcomes.

Actuals - Real costs, sales, etc., that have occurred, rather than estimations or expectations.

Added Value - Enables and justifies a profit in business.

Addendum - An added section of information in a letter or report.

Ad hoc - Created or done for a particular purpose as necessary and not planned in advance.

Adjunct - A thing which is added or attached as a supplementary, rather than an essential part of something larger or more important.

Adoption Curve - A graph showing the rate at which a new piece of technology is bought by people for the first time. It is based on the idea that certain people are more open for adaptation than others.

Ad Rotation - Describes the rotation of advertisements on a web page - each time a user clicks on a different page or returns to a page they've viewed previously in the same session, a different advert appears on the screen.

Adverse Event - Term used when a volunteer in a clinical trial has a negative or unfavourable reaction to a drug, etc.

Advertising - The promotion and selling of a product or service to potential customers. To announce publicly or draw attention to an event, etc.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - The UK self-regulatory body funded by the advertising industry for ensuring that all advertising adheres to ASA standards, notably not to offend or mislead people. Equivalents named the same exist in other countries.

Advertorial - An advert in a magazine or newspaper that is written like an article giving facts rather than appearing as an advertisement for a product.

Affidavit - A sworn signed statement of fact used as evidence in court whose signature has been witnessed by a commissioner of oaths or other authorised officer, for example a notary. Medieval Latin for 'he has stated on oath', from affidare, meaning to trust.

Affiliate - A company or person controlled by or connected to a larger organisation. In web marketing an affiliate normally receives a commission for promoting another company's products or services.

Ageism - Unfair prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age.

Aggregate - A whole consisting of the combination of smaller separate elements.

Aggregate Planning - The process of planning and developing the best way of producing the right amount of goods, at the right time and at the minimum cost, based on the total number of items which need to be produced, and the amount of materials, equipment and workers necessary for production.

Aggressive Growth Fund - A high risk investment fund in which shares are expected to increase in value very quickly in the hope of making large profits.

Agile Development Method - A type of business development which gets things moving quickly and adapts during the development, as distinct from conventional planning and project management implementation.

Agio - The percentage charged by a bank for exchanging one form of currency or money, into another that is more valuable.

Agitprop - Political propaganda (published ideas designed to motivate people into certain political views or actions) typically in art, music, literature, etc., a portmanteau word combining the original Russian words agitsiya (agitation) and propoganda, where the term grew from the state department responsible for disseminating communist ideas and information to its people in the 1930s. In the west the term is more associated with publication of left-wing or socialist ideas, often targeted against a governing right-wing authority.

Agribusinesss - Farming industry on a large corporate scale.

AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action - an early and fundamentally useful model/process for effective communications. Also called the 'hierarchy of effects' - we all buy things, and decide to change something, after passing through these four key stages. (See AIDA in sales training materials)

A-list - A list of the most celebrated or sought-after companies or individuals, especially in show business and entertainment.

Alpha Test - The first stage of testing a new product, especially computer software or hardware, carried out by a developer under controlled conditions.

Amalgamate - When two or more companies combine or unite to form one large organisation.

Amortize - To gradually reduce and write off the cost of an asset in a company's accounts over a period of time.

Anchor Tenant - The first and most prestigious tenant, typically a store in a shopping centre, that will attract other tenants or shoppers.

Ancillary Staff - People who provide necessary support to the primary activities and work of an organization, e.g: schools, hospitals.

Annuity - Often used to provide a pension. An annuity is a fixed regular payment payed over a number of years to a person during their lifetime.

Antediluvian - An interesting and humorous metaphorical description of something (for example a product or service or concept) that is obsolete, old-fashioned or primitive, or devised a long time ago. 'Ante' is Latin for 'before', and 'diluvian' is from Latin 'diluvium' meaning 'deluge', so the overall literal meaning is 'before the flood', being the biblical flood and Noah's Ark, etc. Antediluvian is therefore a clever way to say that something is (so old as to be) 'out of the Ark'.

Anthropomorphic / anthropomorphism / anthropomorphous - also called personification - this refers to giving human characteristics to an non-human thing, such as an animal, or a tree, or the Sun, Moon, a god, cartoon character, etc., for dramatic, visual, metaphorical, and amusing effect, etc. It's a very very old concept. Anthropomorphic characterizations have been found on ancient scuptures dating back more than 30,000 years. The word is Greek, originally from athropos, human, and morphe, form.

Appellant - A person appealing to a higher court against a decision of a lower court or other decision-making body.

Apple Box - Used in films, TV, etc. Wooden boxes of various sizes which are used to elevate actors and celebrities.

Appraisal - A review of performance, capability, needs, etc., typically of an employee, in which case the full term is normally ' performance appraisal '.

Arbiter - A person who settles a dispute or has the ultimate authority to decide the outcome of a matter.

Arbitrator - An independent person or body officially appointed to settle a dispute.

Archive/Archives - A collection of records no longer active. Also pluralised - archives - meaning the same, and referring to the place of storage.

Articles Of Association - The document which lists the regulations which govern the running of a company, setting out the rights and duties of directors and stockholders, individually and in meetings.

Aspirational Brand - A brand or product which people admire and believe is high quality, and wish to own because they think it will give them a higher social position.

Assets - Anything of value which is owned by an individual, company, organisation, etc.

Asset Stripping - Buying a stricken company and selling off its assets with no thought for the future of the company or its people, customers, etc.

Atmosphere - In films, TV, etc., a general crowd of people, extras.

Attrition - The process of reducing the number of employees in an organisation by not replacing people who leave their jobs.

Auditor - A qualified person who officially examines the financial records of a company to check their accuracy.

Auteur - An artist or creative, for example a film director, whose personal style is recognizable because he/she keeps tight control over all aspects of the work.

Autocratic - Offensively self-assured or given to exercising unwarranted power. Expecting to be obeyed and not caring about the opinions and feeling of others. See X-Y Theory .

AV - Anti-Virus, a common abbreviation referring to virus protection software/services for computer and internet use.

Avant Garde - New or original and often unconventional techniques, concepts, products, etc, usually associated with the arts and creative areas.

Average Daily Rate - In the hotel industry a calculation of the average price at which a hotel room is booked each night based on total daily revenue divided by the number of rooms sold. The term may have more general meanings in other contexts.

Avatar - An identity, often in cartoon form, which can be chosen from a selection or created by the person using it to represent themselves in a website chatroom, etc.


B2B - Business-To-Business, or in normal communications 'business to business'. This refers to a commercial trading model by which a business supplies other businesses, and by implication does not generally supply consumers, i.e., domestic private customers (which would be B2C). A B2B provider is therefore a provider of business services or products, for example: company auditors, manufacturers of industrial machinery, conference organizers, corporate hospitality, advertising agencies, trade journals, wholesalers, warehousing and logistics, management consultancies, mining, farming, industrial chemicals, papermills, etc. More detail at B2B in the acronyms glossary .

Back-End Load - A fee or commission paid by an individual when they sell their shares in an investment fund.

Back Shift - A group of workers or the period worked from late afternoon until late at night in an industry or occupation where there is also a day shift and a night shift.

Backscratching - Informal term for reciprocity or returning favours, as in the term 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'.

Back-To-Back Loan - A loan in which two companies in separate countries borrow each other's money at the same time for a specific period at an agreed upon interest rate.

Back with Music - In the entertainment business, films, TV, etc., dialogue which is spoken over music.

Bait-and-Switch - In retail sales, when customers are lured by advertisements for a product at a low price, then find that the product is not available but a more expensive substitute is.

Balance Sheet - A financial statement of an individual, company or organisation, which shows assets and liabilities (money owed) at a specific date.

Balloon - Describes a long term loan in which there is a large final payment when the loan matures.

Bandwidth - In computing, the amount of information that can be transmitted through a communication channel over a given period of time, usually measured in 'bits per second' (bps).

Bancassurance - The selling of both insurance and banking services, usually by a major bank.

Bankers Hours - A short working day, often with a long lunch break.

Bank Loan - A loan made by a bank to an individual, company, etc., for a fixed term, to be repaid with interest.

Bank Run - Lots of sudden and heavy cash withdrawals at the same time from a bank or banks, because customers believe the banks may become insolvent.

Barista - A person who is a professional speciality coffee maker, for example, cappuccino, latte, espresso, etc.

Base 2 - Also known as the binary system, which is the basis of computer logic. Normal counting is based on 0-9. Binary just has 0-1, which means a new column is started after two, not nine. Binary counting does not go 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. It goes 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, etc. Other than for computing it's not very practical.

Bathtub Curve - A U-shaped graph, often long horizontally - resembling a bathtub - representing high incidence or measure at the beginning and finish (far left and far right of graph) of a life-cycle or lifetime or period, with much lower incidence over a relatively long middle period (middle of graph), for example when measuring engineering failures in a product over time, in which early development teething problems produce high failure rates, tending to reduce to lower failure rates due to uncommon random faults, with failure rates again peaking at the end of product life, due to natural 'wear and tear'/exhaustion/erosion of components and construction. A Bathtub Curve may also equate to a U-shaped graph, for example in describing a type of recession which contains a prolonged period at the lowest point, i.e., a U-shaped recession . See also 'bell curve' below.

Bean Counter - An informal derogatory term for an accountant, especially one who is perceived or suggested to be overly concerned about expenditure detail.

Beanfeast - Also known as a beano - an annual party, dinner, or outing given by an employer for its employees.

Bear Market - In the stock market a period of declining prices in which investors continue selling shares, expecting the prices to fall further.

Bear Raid - The practice, in the stock market, of attempting to push the price of a stock lower by selling in large numbers and often spreading unfavourable rumours about the company concerned.

Behemoth - A large and powerful organisation. (originally from Hebrew, behemot - beast)

Bell Curve - Survey/sample distribution term. 'Bell curve' is the common informal term for a graph with a large rounded peak in the middle, sloping sharply to the right and left and then tapering more gently at the extreme ends of the graph. It's a bell-shape, hence the name. The term 'bell curve' refers also to this sort of statistical distribution, even if it is not actually graphed. Technically in probability theory, mathematics and marketing, etc., the 'bell curve' is 'normal' distribution or Gaussian distribution (after German mathematician ohann Carl Friedrich Gauss). The bell curve is very commonly exhibited in sampling and surveys, where the vast majority of results/subjects/data tend to concentrate towards the average score, with incidence of variation above and below the average (shown graphically right and left) being roughly equal to each other, and much less than the incidence/results towards the average and majority. Business people often refer to a 'bell curve' when anticipating/explaining a situation where the vast majority of members of an audience or market are very similar, and only a very small minority is outside of the 'norm' or average. This terminology is helpful in emphasizing the needs or tendencies of the big majority, and avoiding distraction by or over-estimating the effect of minority interests/needs, which can cause projects to be distorted unnecessarily. There is a broad correlation between the notion of a 'bell curve' and Pareto theory , also known as the '80-20 Rule', i.e., both concepts highlight the significance of concentration and distribution when assessing opportunity, risk, effectiveness, and the targeting of communications, resources, etc. (Separately note for interest, the contrast between 'bell curve' and 'bathtub curve' graphs and what they mean)

Bells and Whistles - Extra features added often more for show than function, especially on computers, cameras, etc., to make the product more attractive to buyers.

Below The Line - BTL. Describes marketing which has a short-term duration, such as non-media advertising, direct-mail, e-mail, exhibitions, incentives, brochures, etc., which is targeted directly at the consumer/customer. Often used by companies on a limited budget.

Bench Warrant - An order issued by a judge for an absent defendent to be arrested and brought before a court.

Benefit Principle - A taxation principle which states that those who benefit more from government expenditure, financed by taxes, should pay more tax for the product or service than those who benefit less.

Benefits Realisation - Also Benefits Realisation Management, or if you prefer the US English it would be Benefits Realization. This refers to the translation of projects into real and perceived positive effects, seemingly a concept devised originally in the field of IT and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) project management, where projects are notoriously difficult to manage successfully and generate clear end-user appreciation. The term, abbreviated to BRM, is increasingly applied more widely to change management and project management of all sorts, representing an additional final stage of project management process, for which a manager is sometimes specifically responsible.

Best Boy - The person on film sets, TV, etc., who is the assistant to the electrician.

Beta Test - The second test of a product, such as computer hardware, software, or even a website, under actual usage conditions, before the final version is used by or sold to the public. See Alpha Test .

Bid Bond - A sum agreed to be paid by a company that wins a contract if the work is not carried out.

Big Bang - Occurred (UK) on 27th October 1986, when major technology changes took place on the London Stock Exchange chiefly to replace manual systems with electronic processes.

The Big Board - An informal name for the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

The Big Three - The three largest credit ratings agencies : Standard and Poor's; Moody's, and Fitch. There are hundreds of smaller credit rating agencies, but historically 95% of the market is served/controlled by these three companies. As at 2013 their ownership is all American, except 50% of Fitch in French ownership. These companies have an enormous and controversial influence over corporate and international debt and the workings of credit and debt markets, banking, investments, etc., and consequently also on economies and societies around the world. 'The Big Three' are particularly controversial because of their considerable market dominance, considered by most commentators to be monopolistic (or at least a duopoly, given S&P/Moody's 80% market share), together with potential for conflict of interest in the way that the credit ratings industry operates: Credit rating agencies provide extensive high-value advisory services to the same markets/clients that are subject to the ratings issued by the agencies. Despite the heavy reliance on their assessments and pronouncements, the Big Three agencies failed to identify the toxic nature of the mortgage and related derivative debt 'products' prior to and regarded central to the 2008 global financial collapse, and in some cases awarded very positive ratings for these debts which subequently proved largely valueless and irrecoverable.

Bikeshed Colour effect/Colour of the Bikeshed Law/The Bicycle Shed Law/Parkinson's Law of Triviality - This was originally a concept or 'law' proposed by C Northcote Parkinson in his (1957/8) book Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress, which also gave us Parkinson's Law itself. The revived Triviality Law was popularized in 1999 by Poul Henning Kamp, a computer developer, effectively and accidentally renaming it the Bikeshed Colour effect. Essentially the law contends that people in organizations (due to human nature and organizational behaviour) inevitably spend a disproportionately large amount of time and effort on trivia matters - especially attempting to apply personal influence - while neglecting the really important issues because they are difficult to understand, and consequently more difficult to influence. See Parkinson's Law and Parkinson's Law of Triviality , which includes more explanation about the Bikeshed Colour effect and its derivation.

Bilateral - Agreement or involvement or action by two parties, people, companies, countries, etc. See Unilateral and Multilateral .

Biometrics - The biological identification of human features, such as eyes, voices and hands, increasingly used to identify individuals, e.g., in laptop computers, entry systems and passports.

Bitcoin - A significant digital currency, divided into 100 million units called satoshis, created by the pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto, first described by the creator(s) in 2008, broadly as an anonymous, peer-to-peer, electronic payments system. The Bitcoin currency is increasingly traded and as treated as seriously as conventional fiat (national or state-issued) currencies by the world's major financial merchants and institutions. The Bitcoin currency is scheduled to attain a finite total volume. It is 'mined' using a time-linked computerised generation process, via linked mutually/self-protecting computer servers including equipment belonging to 'members' who in return receive payment in Bitcoins in return for the use of computer processing power. The Bitcoin is part of the future of money perhaps, which does not rely on state or federal constitution, operating instead peer-to-peer (rather than through an institutional issuer), and instead relying on computing and internet or equivalent means of administration and connection. The Bitcoin name is a pun or double-meaning alluding to computing and coinage, i.e., a bit in computing is a single unit of data expressed as either 0 or 1 in binary notation; and separately a bit is a very old slang word for a coin (see bit coin slang ). Reports following media investigations into and cross-linking encryption patents, Bitcoin white paper documentation, and registration of the bitcoin domain name, suggested the identity of the 'developer' to be three people, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry, although each (at 2013) deny the assertion. Here's what the Bitcoin website says about the concept (at 2013):

  • "Bitcoin uses peer to peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and issuing Bitcoins are carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems. The software is a community-driven free open source project, released under the MIT license."
  • (And the abstract from the explanatory white paper published by the developer): "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. - Satoshi Nakamoto - - - Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone."

Bit Part - In films and TV, a supporting actor who has at least one line of dialogue, and who is usually listed in the credits.

Black Economy - Money earned in private cash transactions, which is untraceable, and therefore untaxable.

Black Knight - A company which makes a hostile takeover bid for another company that does not want to be bought.

Black Swan/Black Swan Theory - A 'black swan' refers to a random unpredictable and highly influential event (upon economics, society, politics, life, etc) whose potential/significance is generally only appreciated after it has happened, and even then is commonly rationalized (by commentators and leaders, etc) to have been predictable and part of a predictable pattern of some sort, which actually is not so, or it would have been. The tendency for many people to be in denial as to the true nature of black swan event unpredictability and impact is an important part of the black swan theory itself. Examples of 'black swans' are events such as the September 11 attacks on the US by al-Qaeda; the 1986 Chernobyl disaster; and the 2008 global financial/credit collapse. Black swans can instead be of a more positive nature, for example, the invention of the internet, or the fall of the Berlin Wall. The black swan term/theory was introduced by Nassim Taleb, a highly regarded Lebanese-American professor, author and theorist, in his best-selling 2001 book Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, and reinforced by his follow-up 2007 best seller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. The 'black swan' metaphor alludes to both to the rareness of black swans, and to early beliefs that the creatures did not exist - which relates to general attitudes towards the real nature of 'black swan' events. The word 'black' also suggests negative consequences, which commonly result from black swan events. 'Grey swan' is a related expression, also coined by Nassim Taleb in his books, which refers to a predicted or known event which has uncertain outcomes.

Blamestorming - Portmanteau term contrived from Brainstorming and Blame, referring to meetings or discussions seeking to allocate responsibility for a failure or disaster. Popularised in the late 1990s by viral emails which listed amusing office terminology.

Blatherskite - A person who talks at great length without saying anything useful. Originally a Scottish 16thC expression adopted into American slang from the song Maggie Lauder during the US War of Independence.

Blind Test - Research method in which people are asked to try a number of similar products which are not identified by brand name, to decide which product is the best.

Blind Trial - A trial, with two groups of people, to test the effect of a new product, especially in medicine. One group is given the real product while the other group is given a placebo or 'sugar pill', which does not contain any medication.

Bloatware - In computing, software that needs so much computer memory that it takes a long time to load and therefore does not function properly.

Blue Chip - On the stock market, shares of a large company with a good reputation, whose value and dividends are considered to be safe and reliable.

Blue-Sky Law - In the US, a law designed to protect the public from buying fraudulent securities.

Blue-Sky Thinking - Open-minded, original and creative thinking, not restricted by convention.

Bluetooth - Wireless technology which allows data to be transferred over short distances between laptop computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, etc.

Blue Law - In the US, a law which regulates and limits activities for religious reasons, such as Sunday working or shopping.

Bodhisattva - From Buddhism, a person who seeks enlightenment for the good of, and motivated by a compassion for, other people. In Western thinking we could see this to be similar to Maslow's notion of 'trancendence' in the pursuit of self-actualization, notably helping others to self-actualize. Not an easy concept to explain; in the spectrum of human behaviour it's about as far away that can be imagined from the pursuit of a merchant banker's bonus or the Presidency of Europe, if you'll forgive the clichés.

Boilerplate - A section of standard text, especially a contract clause, inserted into legal documents, or instead increasingly referring to a standard section of code inserted into computer programs or other digital applications. The main sense of the 'boilerplate' meaning is that the text/code is already existing and available to use, is quite fixed, needing little or no alteration, and by implication has a proven and trusted validity or suitability, and is therefore an aid to saving effort and cost compared with originating an equivalent clause or section of code from nothing. Usage and origins of the term boilerplate have become varied and confused, which perhaps helped popularize the term itself because this has made its meanings more flexible and widely applicable. The term 'boiler plate' or 'boiler-plate' seems to have two main original meanings: Firstly, plates of pre-cut/pre-formed metal used in constructing industrial boilers, and scondly, a much smaller plate or metal label attached to a boiler to identify the maker and other important details about the boiler. This latter sense is more iconically meaningful because of the visibility and imagery of steam engines and old industrial machinery. There is also a theory (not especially well-proven) that the term was initially applied metaphorically in traditional printing to the occasional use of hard durable steel printing plates for repeatedly used text/graphic sections, to save time and wear compared with the 'hot metal' and related methods of assembling printing plates from individual print blocks made from much softer metal.

Bold-Faced Names - Informal term for celebrities, used mostly in the USA.

Bona Fides - Credentials showing someone's true identity. (Latin - with good faith)

Bond - The financial meaning of a bond is normally a debt/investment instrument issued by a company or country for a period of more than a year, with fixed interest rates and a firm and full repayment date. Typically a bond will pay a stipulated rate of interest at fixed times, and the debt is repaid at a specified time, i.e., the investor is guaranteed to be repaid the amount loaned/invested in full. More loosely the word bond can refer to a mortgage in some parts of the world, for example South Africa. A bond may also refer to a legal deed or agreement by which one person or party is bound to make payments to another; or to an insurance contract; or (notably in the US) to a sum of money paid as bail. The specific and more general meanings of bond logically derive from the older and original sense of bond, meaning fasten together, or the tie/festening itself.

Bonded Warehouse - A warehouse in which imported goods are stored under bond, until the import taxes are paid on them.

Bonus - An extra sum of money given to an employee on top of their salary, often for achieving targets.

Bonus Culture - Term used when companies give their executives huge bonuses in addition to their large salaries, even if their performance has been poor, especially leaders of financial institutions.

Book Depreciation - A decrease or loss in value of a company's assets, as recorded in the company's finances.

Boomlet - A small period of rapid growth in trade and economic activity.

Bookkeeping - The recording of a business's transactions, such as sales, purchases, payments, income, etc.

Bootstrapping - Starting a business from scratch and building it up with minimum outside investment.

Bossnapping - Believed to have started in France, the unlawful imprisonment of a boss, in the offices of a company or on the site of a corporation, by employees who are protesting against redundancy, closure of the company, etc.

Bottom Fishing - Buying the cheapest investments available which are unlikely to fall much further in value.

Bounce - In economics a bounce is a small quick partial recovery of the economy after a recession, which may subsequently continue upwards in growth, or plateau neither growing or contracting, or descend back into recession.

Bounty Hunter - In the US, someone who pursues criminals or fugitives and brings them to the police in exchange for a monetary reward.

Boutique - A small shop or outlet typically selling fashionable and expensive items such as clothing. The term 'boutique' is also now increasingly applied as a descriptive word in various other sectors and products to denote an outlet/supplier of small-scale, highly individual, bohemian , quirky, or hand-made quality, for example Boutique Hotels, below.

Boutique Hotel - A small individual hotel, commonly within a historic building, with luxurious stylish themed and furnished rooms, typically independently owned.

Bracket Creep - Slowly moving into a higher tax bracket with small pay increases over a period of time.

Brain Drain - The loss of highly skilled people to another region, country or industry, where they can work in a better environment and/or earn more money.

Brainstorming - Problem solving in small groups, contributing ideas and developing creativity.

Brand - A unique identifying symbol, trademark, company name, etc., which enables a buyer to distinguish a product or service from its competitors.

Brand Association -  Something or someone which make people think of a particular product.

Brand Loyalty - When a consumer repeatedly buys a particular brand of product and is reluctant to switch to another brand.

Bread and Butter - The main source of income of a company or an individual.

Break Even - To make enough money to cover costs. In business, the point at which sales equals costs. To make neither a profit or loss.

Bridging/Bridging loan/Bridge - A short term loan, normally at high rates of interest calculated daily, which 'bridges' a period when funds are unavailable, typically when payment has to be made before finance can be released from elsewhere to cover the transaction.

Brinkmanship - The practice of pursuing a tactic or method to the point of danger or damage, typically employed in competitive situations in which it is felt that the tactic will unsettle or cause the withdrawal of the adversary/ies. Dervies from the word brink, meaning the edge of a cliff or other dangerously high point.

British Standards Institution - BSI. An organisation which sets out formal guidelines to help businesses, etc., produce or perform more efficiently and safely. The BSI operates in more than 25 countries, and represent UK interests in other organisations, such as the ISO - International Organisation For Standardization.

Brownfield - Previously developed land, either commercial or industrial, which has been cleared for redevelopment.

Brown Goods -  Household electrical entertainment appliances such as televisions, radios and music systems.

Brown-noser - Insulting slang term for a sychophant, originally 1930s US military slang (brown-nose). Brown-nosing describes crawling or creeping to please a boss; an amusingly disturbing interpretation of various expressions which juxtapose the head of the follower with the backside of the boss, as in the rude slang metaphors: kissing arse/ass, arse-licking, bum-licker, etc.

Bubble Economy - An unstable boom when the economy experiences an unusually rapid growth, with rising share prices and increased employment.

Budget - Allocation of funds or the estimation of costs for a department, project, etc., over a specific period. The management of spending and saving money.

Built To Flip - Companies which have been sold soon after they have been created, so that money can be made quickly.

Bullet Point - A symbol, e.g. a dot or a square, printed at the beginning of each item on a list.

Bull Market - On the Stock Market, a prolonged period in which share prices are rising and investors are buying.

Business Angel - Also known as Private Investor. A, usually wealthy, individual who invests money in developing (often high risk) companies, and who provides their advice, skills, knowledge and contacts in return for an equity share of the business.

Business Name - See also Trade Name/Trading Name, which are loosely interchangeable. These are a very vague terms indeed. Precise interpretation may depend on the actual legal definitions of these terms in the territory/state/country concerned. And also the way a business perceives and interprets the terms, and whether they fill in the forms/checkboxes correctly.. Generally business names and trade/trading names may be registered and licensed. A lot depends on the interpretation of the term 'Business name'. Business name can refer to a trade/trading name, or also could refer to the the over-arching or parent or holding company, which is ultimately responsible for a trade/trading name within or of the business. A trade name is normally a division or branded operation/service, or product brand, within/of a (legally titled) business, but the terms are very broad and it's difficult to be specific because circumstances and legal interpretations vary. Be careful to avoid applying a strict definition to such loose terms and certainly if serious implications stem from interpretation then seek expert local clarification.

Business Plan - A written document which sets out a business's plans and objectives, and how it will achieve them, e.g. by marketing, development, production, etc.

Business To Business - B2B. Commercial transactions or activities between businesses.

Business To Consumer - Transactions in which businesses sell goods and/or services to end consumers or customers.

Button Ad - A small advertisement on a website, typically measuring 120 x 90 pixels.

Buy-in - Purchase of a company where outside investors buy more than 50% of the shares, so they can take over the company.

Buzzword - A word or phrase which has become fashionable or popular, or sounds technical or important and is used to impress people.


C2C - Consumer-To-Consumer, a marketing/business model (compare with B2B , B2C, etc) illustrated by 'car-boot' sales, yard sales, small private ads, and more significantly E-Bay, Amazon and other big C2C internet portals, which by the end of the first decade of the 2000s had become a substantial aspect of global economics and human society, and a real threat to the long-term future of some very large corporate industries. See also the broadly equivalent P2P (big explanation of P2P [Peer-To-Peer] in the acronyms section ).

Cafeteria Plan - A system which allows employees to choose from a selection of benefits which may be tax-advantaged, such as retirement plan contributions, health benefits, etc., in addition to their salary.

Calculated Risk - A risk which has been undertaken after careful consideration has been given to the likely outcome.

Callable - Usually applies to bonds or convertible securities which can be bought back, at an agreed price, before maturity, by the company or government which sold them.

Call Account - A bank account, which usually pays a higher rate of interest, from which investors can make instant withdrawals.

Callipygian - Having well-shaped beautiful buttocks. This fascinating obscure term (thanks S Marcus, PhD) - indeed the OED categorises the adjective as 'rare' - deserves wider exposure. Callipygian is pronounced 'Kallipijian' with the emphasis on the 'pij' syllable. A more recent variation is Callypygous ('kallipijus'). The word came into English in the late 1700s from Greek, kallipugos, which was used to describe a statue of Venus (the 1922 OED says it was actually the name of a statue of Venus), from kallos meaning beauty, and puge, meaning buttocks. Kallos is also a root of the word calligraphy (decorative handwriting/lettering), and callisthenics (graceful gymnastics).

Cap And Collar - The upper and lower limits of interest rates on a loan, usually fixed for a specific period of time.

Capital - The net worth of a business, including assets, cash, property, etc., which exceeds its liabilities (debts). The amount of money invested in a business to generate income.

Capital Allowance - Money spent by a company on fixed assets, such as buildings, vehicles, machinery, which is deducted from its profits before tax is calculated.

Capital Flight - The sudden movement of money from one country or investment to another in order to reduce risk, such as high inflation, or to increase profit.

Capital Gains Tax - Tax payable on profits made on the sale of certain types of assets by a company or individual.

Capitialism - When an economic system of a country is controlled and profited by private individuals and corporations, rather than the government.

Capitalization Issue - When a company converts its spare profits into shares, which are then distributed to existing shareholders in proportion to the amount of shares they already hold.

Capital Outlay - Money which is spent for the acquisition of assets, such as land, buildings, vehicles, machinery.

Capped-Rate - Interest rate, usually on a loan, which cannot rise above the upper set level but can vary beneath this level.

Carbon Credit - Allows the right to emit a measured amount of harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the air, and can be traded between businesses and countries.

Carey Street - To be heavily in debt or bankrupt. Originates from Carey Street in London where the bankruptcy court was situated.

Carload - A shipment of goods which, typically by weight, qualifies for a lower shipping rate. The term 'Less than carload' refers to a shipment which is below the given size/weight necessary to qualify for such a rate. The term originated from USA railway freight car transportation and also applies to other methods of freight transport, notably shipping containers, hence similar terms containerload and 'less than containerload'.

Carnet - An international official permit which allows you to take certain goods, e.g. for display or demonstration, into another country, duty free, for a specific period - usually 12 months.

Carpet Bomb - To send an advertisement to a large number of people by e-mail or onto their computer screens.

Cartel - A group of separate companies or nations which together agree to control prices and not compete against each other. Also known as a Price Ring.

Cash Call - A request by a company to its shareholders to invest more money.

Cash Cow - A steady dependable source of income which provides money for the rest of a business.

Cash Flow - The movement of money into and out of a company, organisation, etc.

Cash Flow Forecast - Also called Cash Flow Projection. An estimate of the amounts of cash outgoings and incomings of a company over a specific time period, usually one year.

Casting Vote - The deciding vote cast by the presiding officer to resolve a deadlock when there are an equal number of votes on both sides.

Catch-22 - Much misused expression, it refers properly only to a problem whose solution is inherently self-defeating. Wrongly it is used to describe any insurmountable or difficult problem. It's from Joseph Heller's book of the same name; see cliches origins .

Category Killer - Large companies that put smaller and less efficient competing companies out of business.

Cattle Call - Term used in the entertainment industry for a large number of actors, etc., who are all auditioning for the same job.

Caveat Emptor - When the buyer takes the risks and is responsible for checking the condition or quality of the item purchased. (Latin - Let the buyer beware)

C E Mark - Conformite Europeenne (European Conformity). A symbol on many products sold in the European Union indicating that they have met health, safety and/or environmental requirements, ensuring consumer and workplace safety.

Central Counterparty - Acts on behalf of both parties in a transaction, so that the buyer and seller do not have to deal with each other directly.

Central Reservation System (CRS) - A computer database system used by a chain of hotels (and other services providers) enabling availability and rates to be monitored and bookings to be made.

Chain Of Command - A system in a business, or in the military, in which authority is wielded and delegated from top management down through every level of employee. In a chain of command instructions flow downwards and accountability flows upwards.

Chamber Of Commerce - A group of business owners in a town or city who form a network to promote local business.

Channel Of Distribution - Also known as Distribution Channel. A means of distributing a product from the manufacturer to the customer/end user via warehouses, wholesalers, retailers, etc.

Check The Gate - A term used in the film industry after a shot is taken on a film set. The gate, or opening in front of the camera, is checked to make sure that there is no dirt, hair, etc., present.

Clapper Boy - On a film or TV set, the person who holds the clapperboard (which has information on it, for example film title, shot number, etc) in front of the camera for about one second at the start of each shot after the camera starts rolling.

Class Action - A lawsuit in which one person makes a claim and sues on behalf of a large group of people who have similar legal claims, usually against a company or organisation.

Class A Spot - In the media, commercials which are run on a prime time network.

Click Farm - A supplier of fraudulent website traffic/visitors - typically an organized and exploited group of low-paid workers who are tasked to visit websites to post false reviews/comments or to click on PPC adverts so as to generate fraudulent clickthrough advertising revenues.

Clicklexia - Ironic computing slang for a user's tendency to double-click on items when a single click is required, often causing the window or utility to open twice.

Clicks And Mortar - Also known as Clicks and Bricks. Refers to businesses which trade on the Internet as well as having traditional retail outlets, such as shops.

Clickstream - A record of an internet user, including every web site and web page which have been visited, and e-mails sent and received.

Click-Through/Clickthrough/'Clickthru' - When a person clicks on an advertisement on a web page which takes them to the advertisers website. See PPC .

Clip-Art - Ready made pictures of computerised graphic art which can be copied by computer users to add to their own documents.

Close Company - In the UK, a company which is controlled by five or less directors.

Code-Sharing - An arrangement between different airlines in which they all agree to carry passengers on the same flight using their own flight numbers.

Coercion - Forcing someone, by some method or other, to do something or abstain from doing something against their will.

Combined Ratio - In insurance, a way of measuring how much profit has been made by comparing the amount of money received from customers to the amount paid out in claims and expenses.

Commercial Monopoly - The control of a commodity or service by one provider in a particular market, virtually eliminating competition.

Commercial Paper - An unsecured and unregistered short-term agreement in which organizations can borrow money from investors who cannot take the assets from the organization if the loan is not repaid.

Commission - In finance, a payment based on percentage of transaction value, according to the local interpretation of value (e.g., based on total revenue, or gross profit, etc).

Commission Broker - A person who buys and sells shares, bonds, etc., on a commission basis on behalf of their clients.

Companies House - A government agency in the UK which is responsible for collecting and storing information about limited companies. The companies must file annual accounts or face penalties.

Comparative Advantage - See definition for Competitive Advantage.

Compensation Fund - A fund set up by a company or organisation from which to pay people who have suffered loss or hardship which has been caused employees or members of the company or organisation.

Competition Law - Known as Antitrust law in the US, regulates fair competition between companies, including the control of monopolies and cartels.

Competitive Advantage - A position a business gains over its competitors.

Competitor - A business rival, usually one who manufactures or sells similar goods and/or services.

Competitor Analysis - Also called Competitive Analysis. A company's marketing strategy which involves assessing the performance of competitors in order to determine their strengths and weaknesses.

Compliance Officer - A corporate official whose job is to ensure that a company is complying with regulations, and that its employees are complying with internal policies and procedures.

Compound Interest - Interest which is calculated on not only the the initial loan, but also on the accumulated interest.

Compromise Agreement - Euphemism for a 'Gagging Clause' .

Compulsory Purchase - When an organisation has the legal right to force the sale of land, property, etc., usually to build motorways or railways.

Concept - A thought or notion. An idea for a new product, advertising campaign, etc.

Concierge - An employee of e.g. an hotel who provides a service to guests, such as handling luggage, delivering mail and messages, making tour reservations, etc.

Conciliation - To bring two disputing sides together to discuss the problem with the aim of reaching an agreement.

Concordance - In publishing, a concordance is an alphabetical list of the key words from a text showing their meanings. Concordances are rare in old large books because of the time and effort required to compile them, but more commonly arise in modern computer-generated applications. A concordance is a sort of cross-referenced index, but in (sometimes very much) more detail than the standard index of chapters and subjects typically shown before the main content. There are other more complex and different meanings of the word concordance relating to various technical applications (mathematics, genetics, etc) where often the meanings concern duality or cross-referencing of some sort.

Conditional Sale - A purchasing arrangement, usually where the buyer pays in instalments but does not become the legal owner of the goods until the full purchase price has been paid.

Conference Call - A telephone call which allows three or more people to take part at the same time.

Conflict of Interest - A much overlooked, under-estimated, yet highly prevalent factor in the execution of any responsibility or activity, where an organization/group/individual is subject to incompatible demands, opportunities, incentives, or responsibilities, etc., and especially where there is potential for one demand to distort the proper honest diligent execution of responsibility in achieving the second demand, i.e.., the incompatibility is competing and mutually unhelpful. A conflict of interest produces divided loyalties, for example where a person represents two different competing businesses, or an employee is responsible for managing family members or personal friends. Nepotism unavoidably involves a conflict of interest, regardless of intent. Politicians being paid to give advice to corporations also unavoidably involves a conflict of interest, even where there appears to be no direct connection between the politician's political responsibilities and the nature of the advice and corporate 'client'. In this respect, and elsewhere, denial of conflict of interest generally ignores the value and influence of indirect connections, obligations, 'quid-pro-quos', especially via friends and associates. Similarly where advisors work for a government or regulatory authority, and also have external commercial interests, there is always and unavoidably some conflict of interest. Any form of organizational self-regulation or self-investigation almost always entails a conflict of interest. Common commercial conflicts of interest arise where a provider is able to benefit in the supply of one service as a direct result from the provision of another related service and whose overall effect is typically to the disadvantage of the 'client' organization. Common examples of corporate or organizational conflict of interest may arise where a group/organization seeks to combine provision from the two lists below, where the second activity concerns the first. The lists are not exhaustive and offer merely very broad examples to illustrate the principle. Be sure to clarify context before making firm judgments:

giving service
product supply
setting prices
awarding contracts
quality maintenance
regulation of service
accreditation of training
investigation of faults/complaints
representing suppliers
inspection/quality assessment

Conglomerate - A corporation which consists of several smaller companies with different business activities.

Conservator - In law, a guardian or protector appointed by a court to manage the affairs, finances, etc., of someone who is too ill or incapable of doing so themselves.

Consortium - A group of businesses, investors or financial institutions working together on a joint venture.

Constructive Spending - Helping the local economy by buying home produced goods, holidaying in your own country, etc., rather than buying imported goods and holidaying abroad.

Consultant - An expert who is paid by a company, individual, etc., to give advice on developing plans and achieving goals.

Consumer - An individual who uses goods and services but who may not have been the purchaser.

Consumer Credit - Also called Personal Credit or Retail Credit. Loans given to consumers by financial institutions for household or personal use.

Consumer Debt - Money owed by people in the form of loans from banks or purchase agreements from retailers, such as 'buy now pay later'.

Consumer Panel - A group of selected people, usually a cross-section of a population, whose purchasing habits are monitored by an organization, in order to provide feedback on products, services, etc., which are used.

Consumer Price - The price which the general public pays for goods and services.

Consumer Price Index - CPI. A measure of inflation which involves regularly monitoring the change in price for everyday goods and services purchased by households.

Consumer Protection - Laws which protect consumers against unsafe or defective products, deceptive marketing techniques, dishonest businesses, etc.

Consumer Watchdog - An independent organization that protects the rights of individual customers and monitors companies to check for illegal practices.

Consumption Tax - Tax paid which is based on the price of services or goods, e.g. value added tax.

Contango - A situation in which the price of a commodity to be delivered in the future exceeds the immediate delivery price, often due to storage and insurance costs.

Contingency Fee - In law, a fee that is payable to the lawyer out of any damages which have been awarded to the client by a court. There is no payment if the case is unsuccessful.

Contingent Liability - This is recorded as a debt on a company's accounts which may or may not be incurred, depending on the outcome of a future event, such as a court case.

Contraband - Goods prohibited by law from being exported or imported. Smuggling.

Contract Of Employment - A contract between an employee and an employer which specifies terms and conditions of employment, such as hours to be worked, duties to perform, etc., in return for a salary, paid benefits, paid holiday, etc., from the employer.

Contract Of Purchase - Also called Purchase Agreement. A legal document which states the terms and conditions, including price, of the sale of an item.

Contractor - An individual, company, etc., who agrees to provide goods and/or services to another individual or company under the terms specified in the contract.

Contract Worker - A person who is hired by a company (but not as an employee), often through an employment agency, for a specific period of time to work on a particular project.

Contra Entry - In accounting, an amount entered which is offset by another entry of the same value, i.e., a debit is offset by a credit.

Control Account - An account which a company keeps in addition to its official accounts, in order to cross-check balances, etc., to ensure that the official accounts are accurate.

Controlling Interest - The ownership of more than 50% of the voting shares in a company, which enables the owner of these shares to make decisions, direct operations, etc.

Convene - To gather together for an official or formal meeting.

Convention - A large formal meeting of politicians, members, delegates, sales people, etc.

Convertible - Refers to a security (bonds or shares) which can be exchanged for another type of security in the same company.

Convertible Currency - Currency which can be quickly and easily converted into other countries currencies.

Conveyancer - A specialist lawyer who is an expert in conveyancing, i.e., legal work carried out connected to the selling and buying of property.

Cookie - On a computer, coded information that an Internet website you have visited sends to your computer which contains personal information, such as identification code, pages visited, etc., so that the website can remember you at a later time.

Cooling-Off Period - A period of time after the exchange of contracts, purchasing agreements, etc., during which the purchaser can change their mind and cancel the contract, and usually get any deposit paid reimbursed.

Cooperative - An organisation or business which is owned and run by its employees, customers and/or tenants, who share the profits.

Cooperative Marketing - Also known as Cooperative Advertising. When two companies work together to promote and sell each others products. A manufacturer or distributor who supports, and often pays for, a retailers advertising.

Copyright - An exclusive legal right to make copies, publish, broadcast or sell a piece of work, such as a book, film, music, picture, etc.

Core Earnings - A company's revenue which is earned from its main operations or activities minus expenses, such as financing costs, asset sales, etc.

Corporate Advertising - Also called Institutional Advertising. Advertising that promotes a company's image, rather than marketing its products or services.

Corporate Governance - Corporate governance refers to the (ideally visible, transparent, published) policies and practices by which an organization is directed and managed at executive level, with particular focus on the executive board's accountabilities to shareholders and other stakeholders, especially concerning avoidance of risk, and the competence, ethics and propriety of the leadership, typically a chairman and board of directors. (See the main Corpoprate Governance article for extensive history, guidance, standards, etc.) The board's corporate governance accountabilities include obligations and responsibilities in relation to organizational aims and purposes, and embrace major considerations of constitution and structure, finance and administration, people and staff, remuneration and reward, environment, ethics and morality, law and regulatory matters, quality and problem-rectification, health and safety, social responsibility, technology, processes and decision-making, legacy/sustainability, etc., and any other fundamental aspects of executive leadership and management which in the context of the organization's activities and constitution might be regarded as significant at the highest organizational level. The concept of 'corporate governance' became prominent and highly important in the late 1900s after several corporate scandals were characterized by a serious lack of accountability and transparency in the behaviour (US spelling: behavior) of company directors and senior staff. In short 'corporate governance' refers to how a (typically but not necessarily) large organization is led and managed at the most senior level. By implication, where corporate governance is correctly established and operated there is a cascading effect of high quality entirely throughout the organization (such that problems rarely arise, and wherever they do they are rectified satisfactorily and measures taken to ensure no repeat). Where corporate governance is poorly established and operated then the organization is prone to major failures of various sorts. Where corporate scandals and disasters occur then usually these events are due ultimately to inadequate or improper corporate governance. The terms 'whistleblowing/whistleblower' refer to the actions/people (typically employees) who inform authorities/media about corporate wrong-doing, which is very commonly a symptom or result of inadequate or weak corporate governance. The term corporate governance is most usually used in relation to large organizations, typically big public companies, because such organizations offer potentially huge hidden freedoms for directors to act secretly, recklessly and negligently, in ways which can have vast damaging impacts on staff, customers, shareholders, society, the environment, etc. Despite this original purpose and meaning (for quoted/public companies), the concept of corporate governance and its principles are also applicable with appropriate adaptation to state agencies, military/social/other state services, and small companies too. The root meanings of the words actually support a broad interpretation: corporate refers to any group; governance refers to the leadership of a group or other entity. See the main Corporate Governance article containing history, codes, templates, etc..

Corporate Hospitality - Entertainment provided by companies in order to develop good relationships with its employees, customers, other businesses, etc.

Corporate Ladder - The order of rank, position, etc., in a company from junior to senior, which can be progressed or 'climbed' by employees.

Corporate Raider - A term used for an individual or company who purchases large numbers of shares in other companies, against their wishes, in order to gain a controlling interest in the other companies, or to resell the shares for a large profit.

Corporate Social Responsibility - CSR. An obligation of a company to adhere to legal guidelines in order to meet the needs of its employees, shareholders and customers, and also to be concerned about social and environmental issues.

Corporate Veil - A term which refers to the fact that a company's shareholders are not liable for the company's debts, and are immune from lawsuits concerning contracts, etc.

Corporation - A large company or a group of companies which is legally authorised to act as a single entity, separate from its owners, with its liabilities for damages, debts, etc., limited to its assets so that its shareholders and owners are protected from personal claims.

Corporation Tax - A tax which limited companies and other organisations, such as societies, clubs, associations, etc., pay on their profits after adjustments for certain allowances.

Correspondence Course - A study course using written correspondence, books, etc., which are sent to you by post from learning institutes.

Corruption - Lack of honesty or integrity. Illegal behaviour, such as bribery, by people in positions of authority, e.g. politicians.

Cost Accounting - Managerial accounting which calculates, records and controls the operating costs of producing goods or services.

Cost-centre - Part of a business or organisation such as a marketing department, or quality assurance department, which is a cost to operations and does not produce external customer revenues or profit through trading. See Profit-centre, which trades with external customers and is responsible for producing profit.

Cost Control - A management process which ensures that departments within a company or organisation do not exceed their budget.

Cost Cutting - Reducing an individual's, company's, etc, expenditure.

Cost Effective - Producing a product, offering a service, etc., in the most economical way to the benefit of the company and the customer.

Cost Leader - A company which has a competitive advantage by producing goods or offering services at a lower cost than its competitors.

Cost Of Living - The standard cost of basic necessities which people need to live, such as food, housing and clothes.

Cost Of Living Allowance - COLA. A salary supplement which a company pays to employees because of an increase in the cost of living.

Cost Of Sales - Also known as Cost Of Goods Sold (COGS). The cost of providing a service or manufacturing a product, including labour, materials and overheads.

Cost Overrun - The amount by which the actual cost of a project, etc., exceeds the original budget.

Cost Per Click - CPC. The amount of money an advertiser pays to a website publisher every time a visitor clicks on an advert displayed on the publisher's website which links to the advertisers website.

Cost To Serve - An accounting/business/strategy term and method of analysis which calculates the total costs of product/service provision for a particular customer, or potentially for a broader customer grouping. This method of profitability analysis shifts all indirect costs to be direct costs (directly attributable, as used, per customer), and thereby enables greater clarity in assessing strategy and priorities than relying merely on gross margin indicators.

Cottage Industry - A small business in which production of goods or services are based in the home rather than in a factory or on business premises.

Counterbid - To make a higher offer than someone else in a bid to buy something.

Counterclaim - In a court of law, a claim made against you (plaintiff) by the person (defendant) you are making a claim against.

Counterpart - A person or position which has a corresponding function in a different organization, country, etc. The corresponding function naturally is also a counterpart. Also a copy of a legal document.

Countersign - To add a second signature, where required, to a document or cheque, in order to make it valid.

Countervailing Duty - An additional tax imposed on certain imported goods which have been produced very cheaply in their country of origin, in order to bring the price of the goods up to the true market price to protect the importing country's producers.

Courier - A person who carries and delivers messages, documents, packages, etc., often between companies. A person employed by a travel company as a tourist guide.

Courseware - Computer software designed to be used in teaching or for self-learning.

Covenant - A written promise, sometimes part of a contract, to perform, or not to perform, a particular action.

Cover Charge - A fixed fee charged by a nightclub or a restaurant with live entertainment, which covers, or part covers, the cost of musicians, DJs, etc.

Cowboy - A dishonest, often unqualified, business person, especially one who overcharges for bad quality work. Not to be confused with the cowboy of top-shelf publications.

CPI - Cost-Per-Impression (cost per view) - an advertising method/term, commonly used in online advertising, by which advertising costs are based on the number of times an advert is displayed or viewed. See also PPC/CPC (Pay per Click/Cost per Click)

Crapola - Items of little importance or poor quality. Rubbish.

Crawling Peg - A system of frequently adjusting a country's exchange rate by marginal amounts, because of inflation, etc.

Creative Director - A person who usually works in the advertising or entertainment industry and is responsible for planning and managing the creative aspects of an advertising or promotional campaign.

Credit - An arrangement in which an item for sale is received by the purchaser and paid for at a later date. A loan. The positive balance in a bank account. An amount entered in a company's accounts which has been paid by a debtor.

Credit Analysis - The process of analysing a company's financial records and assessing its ability to repay a loan, etc.

Credit Crunch - Also known as Credit Squeeze. This usually precedes a recession. A situation in which loans for businesses and individuals are difficult to obtain, when a government is trying to control inflation, because of the fear of bankruptcy and unemployment. The term 'Credit Crunch' also became a specific informal name for the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent prolonged recession, which affected western economies particularly, mainly because of their highly leveraged and indebted nature, and the convoluted inter-dependent chains of credit arrangements between banks, some of which failed completely resulting in their effective nationalization or absorption into larger competitors.

Credit History - A record of an individual's or company's debt repayment, used by lenders to asses a borrowers ability to repay a loan, mortgage, etc.

Credit Rating Agency - this is fascinating and significant... a credit rating agency is a company which analyses and issues an official recognized assessment of the quality of a debt or debtor, including corporate, institutional or state debt or debt/credit products (specifically the reliability of repayment/recoverability), such as bonds and tradable securities (debts, equities, mortgages, and derivative complex financial credit contracts), and significantly also of organizations, bodies, and entire countries, by virtue of their credit-worthiness (ability to repay their debts). Ratings are visible, published and officially/internationally recognized, especially for countries. Ratings strongly influence interest rates applied to rated organizations, i.e., poor ratings mean that the low-rated organizations/bodies/nations are charged higher rates of interest by lenders, due to the higher perceived level of risk, and the overall market's response to the rating/risk. Conversely, positively-rated organizations/countries enjoy the lowest possible interest rates when borrowing. The same principle applies to debt products, mindful that many debt products are sold from one lender to another, commonly entailing seriously vast sums of money. Ratings are typically expressed on a scale of AAA ('triple A') as the top/best, which equates to the most reliable and secure debt/debtor, down through AA, A, BBB, BB, etc., to CCC with the lowest being C, although there are variations, including lower case letters, numbers, and + and - symbols. This is a highly significant, pivotal, and controversial area of corporate/global finance, economic management, extending to life and society, because:

  • The sums of money involved/affected by these ratings are extremely big (multi-billions) so there is a lot at stake, for corporations, countries, bankers, brokers, and for societies too.
  • While there are hundreds of small credit rating agencies, historically the market is dominated by just three of them, namely Standard and Poor; Moody's, and Fitch ( 'The Big Three' ), which between them control (at 2013) c.95% of the global market (in ratings and related services, significantly at the highest levels of national and corporate debt/credit).
  • The credit rating industry is inherently and worryingly liable to major conflict of interest because agencies provide important and high-value advisory services to the same organizations whose products the agencies assess, along with rating the client organizations themselves. There is also huge potential for conflict of interest and corruption on a vast scale because credit ratings affect interest rates and transactions entailing monumental sums of money, and so there is unlimited temptation and opportunity for incestuous deals between the rate-fixers and those who trade in credit and debt, and financial investments and speculation generally.

Sadly, as with much else that happens in the financial sector across the globe, combinations of conflict of interest, extreme 'product' complexity, corporate and personal incentive and greed, together with a lack of sufficient regulation and transparency, tend to produce very big outcomes, trends and economical effects that can be arbitrary, distorted, extremely polarized, so that a few powerful people/organizations/entities achieve massive gains and advantages, while others, especially those in weak positions, suffer massive disadvantages. It is an interesting point of note that despite enormous reliance on credit ratings agencies at the level of global corporations and national governments, credit rating agencies can make large misjudgments, as when for example very positive ratings were given to highly toxic derivative mortgages/debts products whose collapse and virtual irrecoverable value led mainly or substantially to the 2008 global financial disintegration and following recesssion. As at 2103 at least one of the 'big three' credit agencies is subject to legal action by the US authorities in this connection. Along with banking and accountancy the credit ratings sector is likely to undergo major changes during the first quarter of the 21st century.

Creditor - A person, business, etc., to whom money is owned.

Credit Rationing - When a bank or money lender limits the amount of funds available to borrowers, or interest rates are very high.

Credit Rating - Information (based on interpretation by an official credit rating agency or similar financial services data provider) of a person's or company's or other entity's financial history and circumstances, which assesses and indicates their ability to repay debts, loans, etc. Lenders use this information when making a decision regarding a loan approval, and in larger cases will adjust levels of interest and other financial credit terms according to the perceived risk of the loan situation and client, which may be an individual or a whole country or international federation.

Credit Repair - The process of helping to improve a person or company's credit rating, sometimes by disputing or correcting credit history discrepancies.

Credit Union - A financial institution, similar to a bank, whose members create the funds from which they can obtain loans at low rates of interest.

Crib - Plagiarism. To copy someone else's written work and pass it off as your own.

Crisis Management - Actions taken by a company to deal with an unexpected event which threatens to harm the organisation, such as a loss of a major customer, bad publicity, etc.

Criterion - A principal or standard by which other things or people may be compared, or a decision may be based.

Critical Mass - The minimum amount of customers, resources, etc., needed to maintain or start a business, venture, etc. The point at which change occurs e.g., when a company is able to continue in business and make a profit without any outside help.

Cronyism - In business and politics, showing favouritism to friends and associates by giving them jobs or appointments with no regard to their qualifications or abilities.

Crowdfunding - A method of funding and underpinning a project or business venture which became increasingly popular and visible in the 21st century, whereby users or other interested people are involved as investors at project inception, and therefore agree and commit to support a development of one sort or another. A good example of crowdfunding is the raising capital and support from a local community for the construction of nearby wind turbines, which generally otherwise encounter local hostility instead of support. The concept of crowdfunding provides a clear illustration of the benefit of involving people as stakeholders, rather than positioning people as 'reluctant customers' or obstacles to be confronted and overcome. See ' Crowdsourcing ', which like 'Crowdfunding' embodies similar progressive, open, inclusive, non-authoritarian management philosophy.

Cross Guarantee - Also known as Inter Company Guarantee. A guarantee by a group of companies to be responsible for the debts, etc., of another company in the group if it fails to repay them. The group also use the guarantee to raise capital or take out multiple loans.

Cross Merchandising - Also known as Add-On Sales. In retailing, the practice of putting related products together on display in order to encourage customers to purchase several items.

Crowdsourcing - Term first coined by Jeff Howe in 2006 in Wired magazine. Crowdsourcing refers to an organisation, group or individual delegating a task to a large number of people via the internet, thereby using the general public or a community of followers, users, experts, etc., to do research, make suggestions, solve a problem, etc., usually without being paid. Their reward is mainly a sense of ownership and real involvement, which is proven to be a very powerful and meaningful force for motivation. (See the theories of Herzberg and McGregor , or at a glance the diagram illustrating XY-Theory .) Crowdsourced projects can be very big indeed. Wikipedia is effectively built and maintained using crowdsourcing. The term is a 'semi- portmanteau ' in that it combines the words crowd and outsourcing. See also Crowdfunding .

Crown Jewel - The most valuable and profitable asset of a company or business.

C-Suite - The Chief Officers or most senior executives in a business or organisation.

Cube Farm - An open office which is divided into cubicles.

Culpability - Blame or liability for harm or damage to others, from Latin culpa meaning fault.

Currency Bloc - A group of countries that use the same currency, for example the Euro.

Current Account - A bank account which can be used to make deposits, withdrawals, cash cheques, pay bill, etc.

Current Assets - Also called Liquid Assets. A company's cash or assets which can be converted into cash usually within one year, including shares, inventory, etc.

Current Liability - In business, a liability or debt which must be paid within one year from the time of the initial transaction.

Current Ratio - A financial ratio which gives an indication of whether or not a company can pay its short-term debts.

Customer - An individual, company, etc., who purchases goods and/or services from other individuals, companies, stores, etc.

Customer Loyalty - Describes when a customer prefers to buy a particular brand or type of product, who prefers a particular shop, or who stays with the same company, such as a bank, insurance company, phone company, etc.

Customer Relations - The relationship a company has with its customers and the way it deals with them. The department in a company which is responsible for dealing with its customers, for example complaints, etc.

Customs Duty - A tax which must be paid on imported, and sometimes exported, goods, to raise a country's revenue and to protect domestic industries from cheaper foreign competition.

Customs Union - A group of nations which have agreed to promote free trade, for example, not to charge tax on goods which they trade with one another, and to set taxes for nations which are not members of the group.

Cutover - Also known as 'Going Live'. The point in time a company or organisation, etc., replaces an old program or system with a new one.

Cut-Throat - Ruthless and intense competition. An unprincipled, ruthless person.

Cyber Monday - In recent times, the busiest online shopping day of the year, in the USA typically the Monday after Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday of November); in the UK typically the first Monday in December.

Cyberspace - Term credited to author William Gibson in 1984 which describes the imaginary place where e-mails, web pages, etc., go to while they are being sent between computers.

Cybersquatting - The illegal activity of buying and registering a domain name which is a well-known brand or someone's name, with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner in order to make a profit.


The Daily Official List - The daily record setting out the prices of shares that are traded on a stock exchange.

Damage Limitation - The process of trying to limit or curtail the amount of damage or loss caused by a particular situation or event.

Dark Net - A term for online private websites and networks concealed from and inaccessible to unauthorised users in which materials are shared, normally illegally and anonymously.

Dark Store - A retail store adapted or designed for the main or whole purpose of fulfilling online orders. Customers generally do not visit 'dark stores', except where policy/processes allow the collection of pre-ordered goods. The 'dark store' feature of retailing began to emerge seriously in the early 2000s, in which an existing retail store or a purpose-built facility - notably in the supermarkets sector - would be adapted/designed chiefly or entirely for distributing orders placed online, i.e., website sales. Dark stores typically contain similar warehousing/shelving/aisles arrangements to conventional retail stores, but store staff physically pick the products, rather than customers. Orders are then delivered to customers, or (subject to the policy if the retailer) may be collected. It is easy to foresee a time when generally the product picking and packaging for delivery/collection is automated. The word 'dark' in this context alludes to the notion of a store not requiring the bright environment and highly visible presence and that we normally associate with traditional retailing. The word also alludes to the fact that much of the activity in dark stores can happen at night. This terminology and retailing strategy reflects a substantial fundamental shift in society, far beyond the logistics of shopping. Dark stores signify a dramatic reorganization of the 'developed world', by which the nature of consumer and commercial consumption, and the uses of buildings and entire commercial/retail development sites, are becoming very different, with many big implications for societies, infrastructures, and how people live within and relate to them. Incidentally the word fulfillment may instead be spelled fulfilment, although the former is more common. (I'm keen to clarify the precise origin of the 'dark store' term. If you know please contact me .)

Daughter Company - A company that is controlled partly or completely by a holding or parent company.

Dawn Raid - A sudden planned purchase of a large number of a company's shares at the beginning of a days trading on the stock exchange.

Day Player - In the entertainment industry, actors, etc., who are hired by the day.

Deadbeat - A person or company who tries to avoid paying their debts.

Dead Cat Bounce - A derogatory term used on the stock exchange to describe a huge decline in the value of a stock, usually a share, which is immediately followed by a temporary rise in price before continuing to fall. From: "Even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height".

Dear Money - Also known as Tight Money. When money is difficult to borrow, and if a loan is secured then it would be paid back at a very high rate of interest.

Debenture - Unsecured certified loan over a long period of time with a fixed rate, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future.

Debriefing - A meeting or interview in which a person or group of people report about a task or mission just completed or attempted.

Debt - Money owed to another person or organisation, such as a loan, mortgage, etc., which is required to be paid back, usually with interest.

Debt-Equity Swap - An arrangement between a lender and a debtor, usually a company, in which the lender agrees to reduce the debt in exchange for newly issued shares from the borrower.

Debt Exposure - Money that a lender risks losing if the borrower fails to pay it back.

Decertification - In employment this refers specifically to action taken by workers to disassociate themselves from a trade union which previously represented them. Aside from this the general meaning refers to withdrawal of certification of one sort or another.

Decision Consequence Analysis - A process for helping decision makers, usually in the pharmaceutical and petroleum exploration industries, decide where resources such as time, money, etc., should be invested.

Decision Tree - A diagram which starts with an initial decision, and possible strategies and actions are represented by branches which lead to the final outcome decided upon.

Deed Of Partnership - A legal document which sets out how a partnership is to be run, and also the rights of the partners. A Deed Of Partnership is not compulsory but it helps to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

Deep Throat - In business, an anonymous source of top secret information. First used in this sense in the reporting of the US Watergate scandal.

Deep Web - Also known as the Invisible Web, said to contain about 500 times more information than the generally accessible world-wide web, the Deep Web comprises data held by secure organizations, for example military and government.

De Facto - Latin - Existing in reality or fact, with or without legal right.

Defence Document - A document that a company's shareholders receive which explains why an offer to buy the company should be rejected.

Deficit Financing - When a government borrows money because of a shortage of funds from taxes. This usually results in pushing up interest rates.

Deflation - Economic decline typified by falling costs of goods and services; falling levels of employment; limited money supply or credit; reduced imports; lower wage increases, often caused by lower personal spending or investment, and/or a reduction in government spending. Deflation is broadly the opposite of inflation.

Delegation - An assignment of responsibility or task, usually by a manager to a subordinate. See delegation . Separately a delegation refers to a deputation, being a group of people appointed or responsible for representing a nation or corporation or other organization to attend talsk or negotiations, etc.

Deleveraging - An attempt by a company to reduce its debts, for example by selling off assets, laying off staff, etc.

Demerit Goods - Products or services such as as alcohol, gambling, drugs, prostitution, etc., which are considered unhealthy or undesirable, and are often subject to extra taxes in order to reduce consumption and potentially to fund remedial actions in response to consumption. See Sin Tax.

Democracy - Majority rule, by which the biggest proportion of members of a group determine decisions for the whole group. Democracy typically refers to a country's political system, in which government is elected through majority vote.

Demographic Profile - Used in marketing to describe a particular segment of the population, for example social class, age, gender, income, etc.

Demographic Segmentation - The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their race, age, gender, religion, etc.

Demonetize - To officially decide that a particular coin or banknote can no longer be used as currency.

Deposition - A sworn statement of evidence by a witness taken outside of the court proceedings before a trial.

Depression - A prolonged and very deep economic recession , in a country or wider region. Definitions of an economic depression vary greatly, from two to ten years or more, characterized by extremely deep levels of negative indicators such as unemployment, credit and money supply, living standards, and reduced GDP, etc. Historians and economic commentators commonly disagree about the duration of depressions due to the confused methods of defining precisely what a depression is.

Deregulate - The reduction or removal of government regulations from an industry or business.

Derived Demand - Demand for a service or goods which is created by the demand for another service or goods, such as the demand for steel to make cars.

Desk Jockey - An informal term for someone who spends their working day sitting behind a desk, and who is concerned about administration.

Desktop Publishing - Producing printed documents, magazines, books, etc., using a small computer and printer.

Didactic - Describes works of literature or art which are intended to be be informative or instructional, especially morally, rather than entertaining. From the ancient Greek word didaskein, which means to teach.

Digerati - People who consider themselves to be experts of the Internet and computer industry.

Digital Wallet - Computer software used to store a persons bank account details, name, address, etc., to enable them to make automatic payments when they are making purchases on the Internet.

Direct Marketing - The marketing of products, services, etc., directly to individual potential customers by sending them catalogues, leaflets, brochures, etc., by mail (including e-mail), calling them on the telephone or calling door-to-door.

Director - A person appointed to oversee and run a company or organisation along with other directors, In the entertainment industry, the person who directs the making of a film, TV program, etc.

Directives - At an official level, directives are instructions, guidelines or orders issued by a governing or regulatory body. They may amount to law. In a less formal way a directive equates to an instruction issued by an executive or manager or organizational department.

Direct Overhead - A portion of the overheads, e.g. lighting, rent, etc., directly associated with the production of goods and services.

Dirty Money - Money made from illegal activities which needs 'laundering' so that it appears to be legitimate.

Disability Discrimination Act - An Act of Parliament passed in Britain in 1995 which promotes the civil rights of disabled people and protects them from discrimination in employment, education, renting property, access to transport, etc.

Disburse - To pay out money from a large fund, e.g. a treasury or public fund.

Discount Loan - A loan on which the finance charges and interest is paid before the borrower receives the money.

Discount Window - In the US, when banks can borrow money from the Federal Reserve at low interest rates.

Discretionary Income - The amount of income a person is left with after taxes and living essentials, such as food, housing, etc., have been deducted.

Discretionary Order -  Permits a broker to buy or sell shares on behalf of an investor in order to get the best price.

Discriminating Duty - A variable tax levied on goods depending from which country they were imported.

Dispatch Note - Also called Dispatch Advice. A document giving details of goods which have been dispatched or are ready to be dispatched to a customer.

Distributable Profit - A company's profits which are available for distribution among shareholders at the end of an accounting period.

Distributer - An individual or company who buys products, usually from manufacturers, and resells them to retail outlets or direct to customers. A wholesaler.

Diversion/Product Diversion - In marketing and business 'diversion' refers to the unofficial distribution/availability of branded consumer products. In other words this is the supply of branded products through unautorized stockists or retailers or other suppliers, notably via the web. Diversion does not refer to pirated or counterfeit or 'fake' goods. Diversion refers to official goods being sold through unofficial channels. Also called a 'grey market' .

Diversification - The act or strategy of growing a business/brand by developing its range of products, services, investments, etc., into new market sectors, horizontally or vertically . The term diversification is not generally used in referring to the development of new greographical markets. The vastly diversified Virgin business and brand is a good example of diversification, from from its music mail-order origins in the 1970s, into recording, aviation, rail, holidays/hotels, health clubs, internet/broadband, communications/telephony, TV, radio, books/publishing, events/festivals, banking, insurance, charity, cola, bridal services, condoms, etc. Diversification may make use of an existing brandname (Virgin is a good example of this), or new brandnames, and may entail various business structures, including acquistion. Partnering and joint-ventures are common structural approaches to diversification (so as to work with people/businesses who have existing market presence/expertise). Much simpler examples of diversification are: a butcher's shop which starts a hog-roast service; a bakers shop which opens a cafe; a builder who starts a property development business. Diversification strategies, especially of large scale, typically involve considerable risk and investment because by implication the organization is seeking to become successful in a new unfamiliar field. Risk affects the existing business as well as the new one, in terms of finances, resources, time-management, and brand/reputation, particularly where branding is similar between existing and new activities, all of which are often overlooked. Failures are often characterized by under-funding, poor-planning, inadequate resourcing, and over-optimism/arrogance of leaders, believing that success or dominance in one sector will automatically enable easy success in a new sector; a dangerously faulty assumption.

Diversity - In the context of work/organizations, diversity is a business/employment term originating in the late 1900s, referring to the quality of a workforce (and potentially a group of users/customers or audience) as defined by its mixture of people according to ethnicity, race, religion, disability, gender, sexuality, age, etc. The use of the term diversity assumes that an equal non-discriminatory approach to employment produces positive effects, for staff, working environment, society, etc., and is an extremely healthy and ethical principle. As such the term 'diversity' has become a strongly symbolic principle, rather like other big progressive movements in organizational and societal/economic thinking such as 'green', 'sustainability', 'ethics', 'governance', etc.

Divest/Divestment - In business, divest/divestment refers to a corporation selling subsidiary interests, especially a subsidiary company. (The term derives originally from a more literal meaning of taking power of rights from someone or a body - from the original French desvestir, meaining literally removal of a person's vest or garment.)

Dividend - A portion of profits paid by a company to its shareholders. Shareholders of commercial private and public limited companies generally receive a return/profit from their investment in two ways: firstly the increasing value of the business is reflected in an increasing value of the shares held; secondly the value of a dividend paid (typically annually), based on a per-share rate, normally determined by the board of directors, which represents a proportion of the profit made by the business for the year. For smaller owner-managed and family businesses a dividend usually offers a more tax-efficient way to extract profit from a business by its owners, compared to salaries/bonuses subject to high personal taxation rates. For larger corporations, especially big public corporations providing essential services such as utilities, transport, communications, etc., shareholder dividends can be highly controversial, because dividends are paid from profits of a which a portion must also be reinvested in the business for improvements, efficiences, growth, future liabilities, etc., and which also customers can argue could be used to contain or reduce prices. Within modern free market economics, shareholder dividends are a major and neglected aspect of the psychological contract .

Docking Station - A device to which a notebook computer or a laptop can be connected so it can serve as a desktop computer.

Document Sharing - Used in video-conferencing. A system which allows people in different places to view and edit the same document at the same time on their computers.

Dog - An informal slang term for an investment which has shown a poor performance. The slang term dog may also refer to other poor-performing elements within a business, for example a product or service within a company range, as in the widely used 'Boston Matrix' .

Dollar-Cost Averaging - Known in the UK as Pound-Cost Averaging. The practice of investing a fixed amount of money at fixed times in particular shares, whatever their price. A higher share price means less shares are purchased and a lower share price means more shares can be purchased.

Dolly - In the entertainment industry, a piece of equipment on wheels which allows the camera to move smoothly for long walking shots.

Dotcom - an internet business, or the internet business sector.

Double - In the film and TV industry, a person who stands in, or is substituted, for a principal actor.

Double-Blind - A method of testing a new product, usually medicine, in which neither the people trying the product nor those administering the treatment know who is testing the real product and who has been given a placebo containing none of the product.

Double-dip Recession - A recession during which there is a brief period of economic growth, followed by a slide back into recession, before final recovery. Also called a W-shaped recession. See recession shapes .

Double-dipping - The practice, usually regarded as unethical, of receiving two incomes or benefits from the same source, for example receiving a pension and consultancy income from the same employer.

Double-Entry Bookkeeping - An accounting method which results in balanced ledgers, i.e., for every transaction a credit is recorded in one account and a debit is recorded in another.

Double Indemnity - A clause in a life insurance policy where the insurance company agrees to pay double the face value of the policy in the event of accidental death.

Doula - A birthing or labour coach, from the greek word doule, meaning female slave.

Drayage - The fee charged for, or the process of, transporting goods by lorry or truck.

Drip Advertising - An advertising campaign in small amounts over a long period of time to ensure that the public is continually aware of a product or service.

Drum-Buffer-Rope - A method, usually in manufacturing, which ensures an efficient flow of work in a production process by taking into consideration any possible delays or problems which may occur.

Duopoly - Two companies, or a situation, in which both companies control a particular industry.

Dutch Auction - A type of auction which opens with a high asking price which is then lowered until someone accepts the auctioneers price, or until the sellers reserve price has been reached.

Dysphemism - The substitution of a neutral or positive word/phrase with a replacement word/phrase that has a more negative/pesimistic effect. The opposite or inverse of a dysphemism is euphemism. Both are widely used in press and public relations communications. Extreme examples are unethical at best, and criminally dishonest at worst.

Dystopia - The opposite of Utopia, a society in which conditions are characterised by human misery, depirvation, squalor, disease, etc. The term is said to have been coined by by John Stuart Mill in 1868 in a UK House of Commons speech criticizing the government's Irish land policy.


Earnest Money - Money paid in good faith as a deposit, usually for a property, to show that the buyer is serious about doing business with the vendor.

Earn-Out - An arrangement in which an extra future conditional payment is made to the seller of a business in addition to the original price, based upon certain criteria being met.

Easterlin Paradox - A theory that beyond satisfaction of basic needs, increasing wealth of a country does not produce increasing happiness, suggested by US professor of economics Richard Easterlin based on his research published in 1974.

Easy Monetary Policy - A policy which enables the public to borrow money easily, at low interest rates, in order to expand the economy by investing the money in business activities.

E-Business - Electronic Business. Using the internet to conduct business or enable businesses to link together.

E-Commerce - Electronic Commerce. The buying and selling of products and services over the Internet.

Econometrics - Using mathematics and statistics to study the economy.

Economic Growth - An increase in a region's or nation's production of goods and services.

Economic Life - The period of time during which an asset, e.g. property, vehicle, machinery, etc., is expected to be usable, including repairs and maintenance, before a replacement is required.

Economic Union - Also known as a Common Market. An agreement between a group of countries which allows the free flow of goods, services, labour, etc., between the member countries and usually has a common currency.

Economies Of Scale - In manufacturing, the more units being made the cheaper each unit costs to produce.

Economy - The management of money, currency and trade of a nation. The efficient management of resources.

Ecotourism - Nature based travel to unspoilt places in the world with a view to conservation and to bring economic benefit to the local people. Also known as Ecological Tourism.

E-Currency - Electronic currency. Used on the Internet for making and receiving payments. Companies which provide this service include Paypal and E-Gold.

Edutainment - Products or media which both educate and entertain at the same time, such as TV, books, computer software.

E-Enabled - Being able to communicate and/or conduct business using the internet.

Egalitarian - Believing that everyone is equal and should all have the same rights and opportunities in life.

E-Lance - Freelance working using the Internet to sell services or goods anywhere in the world.

Elasticity Of Demand - The measure of whether people require more or less of a product or service after a price change.

Electronic Cottage - A home which has the necessary electronic equipment, such as telephone, computer, etc., from which to run a business.

Electronic Data Exchange - A means of exchanging documents between businesses using electronic equipment such as computers.

Electronic Purse - A type of microchipped smartcard which stores small amounts of money to enable payment for purchases, especially on the Internet, instead of having to use cash.

Embezzlement - Dishonestly appropriate goods or money from one's employer for personal gain; steal from one's employer, typically by electronic administrative methods, thus abusing a position of trust or responsibility.

Emolument - Total wages, benefits or compensation paid to someone for the job they do or the office they hold.

Emoticon - Used in e-mails, internet chat rooms and text messages, symbols which represent facial expressions, e.g. :-) = smile.

Emotional Capital - Emotional experiences, values and beliefs of a company's employees that make good working relationships and a successful business. Low emotional capital can result in conflict between employees, low morale and poor customer relations.

Emotional Intelligence - The ability or skill of a person to understand and control their emotions, and to understand and assess and respond appropriately to the feelings and situations of others. Commonly abbreviated to EQ (Emotional Quotient, alluding to the concept of IQ - Intelligence Quotient), Emotional Intelligence theory seeks to enable a sophisticated practical appreciation and application of the concept of intelligence, especially in work, management, leadership and human relationships.

Empirical - Information derived from experience, observation or experiment rather than from theory or subjective opinion. From Greek - empeiros, meaning skilled - in turn from peira, meaning trial or experiment.

Employee - An individual who is hired and paid by another person, company, organisation, etc., to perform a job or service.

Employee Buyout - A transaction in which employees purchase all or most of a company's shares, thereby gaining control of the company.

Employee Ownership - A business model and constitutional framework in which staff hold significant or majority shares of a company, thereby ensuring higher levels of loyalty and commitment, and fairness in the way that business performance relates to employee reward. The John Lewis Partnership is one of the prime and most successful examples of the concept.

Employee Self Service - An Internet based system which enables an employee to access their personal records and payroll details, so they can change their own bank account details, contact details, etc.

Employee Stock Option -  Allows specified employees the right to purchase shares in the company at a fixed price.

Employer - A person, business, organisation, etc., that pays for the services of workers.

Employment Equity - Promotes equal employment opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender, race, ability, etc.

Employment Law - Also known as Labour Law. The branch of the law that deals with the legal rights of employees, e.g. workplace safety, discrimination, compensation, etc.

Encrypt - Convert data into code which cannot be easily understood by people who have no authorisation to view it.

End Consumer - An individual who buys and/or uses a product or service.

End Marker - Used at the end of a take in a film, TV program or audition to cover a mistake or to remind people who the person auditioning was during auditions.

Enterprise - A company or business. A business project, often one which is sometimes difficult and/or risky.

Enterprise Application Integration - Software technology that links computer programs, data bases, etc., within an organisation, so that information can be shared.

Entrepreneur - An ambitious person who starts new business ventures in order to make a lot of money, often taking financial risks.

Environmental Impact Assessment - The effect that a proposed project, such as a new building or development, will have on the environment.

Environmentalist - An individual who is concerned about the protection, conservation and improvement of the natural environment.

Eponym/eponymous - A person's name or another sort of name which is used as the name or title or brand for something such as a business or brand or book or other product or concept. The word 'eponymous' also describes any name which features in a concept/book/etc and is actually the name of the concept/book/etc. For example, a story written about a man called John, which is called 'John' or 'John's Adventures', or 'A Story of John', etc., could be described as 'eponymously titled', and the character John could be referred to as the 'eponymous character'. Many eponymous names have become very well-known and entered language to the extent that the origins of the word are not widely appreciated, or largely forgotten altogether. Many have become genericized tradenames . There are thousands of famous eponyms (eponymous names) in business and life in general. Here are a few varied examples, starting with some very big examples of words which have acquired genericized descriptive meanings far beyond their original eponyms:

  • Biro - in many parts of the world this means generally any ballpoint pen, in addition to being the Biro brand of ballpoint pen. Biro is named eponymously after its Hungarian inventor László Bíró, 1899-1985.
  • Levi jeans are named after Levi Strauss, the US businessman who co-registered the original riveted design and begain producing the eponymous working jeans in the late 1800s.
  • William H Hoover and son, Herbert W Hoover, Sr., bought a patent for a vaccuum cleaner in the early 1900s. They built a very big household equipment business, and the word 'hoover' became a way to clean the floor. Few people consider the word's origins.
  • Jacuzzi, the brand, and the general reference to a bubbling hot tub, is named after seven Jacuzzi brothers, Italian US immigrants whose business developed in the early 1900s from aeronautics, though water pumps, to whirlpool bathtubs.
  • Thermos/Dewar (vacuum) flask - alternatively named after James Dewar its 1892 inventor, and the German company Thermos, which exploited Dewar's failure to patent his innovation and first produced the product commercially.
  • Dunlop and Goodyear - industrial brand names, especially tyres/tires named after the founders/inventors of original pneumatic tyre/tire technologies and companies.
  • The Victorian age is (obviously, but often disregarded) an eponymously named era, after Queen Victoria.
  • The Buzz Lightyear character in Toy Story is named after US astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and Yogi Bear was named after Yogi Berra, the baseball player.
  • Glastonbury, the huge music festival event and brand is named after its village location of Glastonbury.
  • Homer's ancient Greek classic The Odyssey (and therefore the modern word odessey too) is named after the main character, Odysseus.
  • The Heimlich manoeuvre abdominal thrusts emergency first-aid treatment is named after its conceiver Henry Heimlich.
  • Yale University, Connecticut, US, is named after Elihu Yale, an early-18th century English businessman philanthropist benefactor.
  • Earl Grey tea is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Viscount Howick, British Prime Minister 1830-1834.
  • The Pavlova fruit-meringue dessert is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, 1881–1931, for whom Australia and New Zealand claim to have devised the pudding when she visited on tour.
  • Beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769–1852).
  • The American Bell Telephone Company (which became American Telephone & Telegraph Company, AT&T) was named after Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/British/US/Canadian scientist and inventor (of the first viable telephone, amongst other things).
  • The giant Casio corporation was established in 1946 by Japanese engineer Tadao Kashio. (Casio's second product was a calculator; the first was a finger ring to enable cigarettes to be smoked to the stub.)
  • Dolby/Dolby Surround audio systems are named after US engineer Ray Dolby, b.1933, inventor of the Dolby noise reduction system.
  • In ice-skating, the jumps called Axel, Lutz and Salchow are named after figure skaters Axel Paulsen (Norway), Alois Lutz (Austria), and Ulrich Salchow (Sweden).

E-Procurement - Electronic procurement. Businesses using the internet to purchase from, or sell goods and services to, other businesses.

Equal Pay Act - In Britain, a government Act of 1970 which gives women the right to earn the same money and to receive the same benefits as men for performing the same job.

Equilibrium Price - The price at which the demand of a particular product or service is equal to the quantity supplied.

Equity Accounting - When a company records, in its financial records, profits which can be claimed from an affiliated company which they part own.

Escape Clause - A condition in a contract which allows the contract to be broken in particular circumstances.

Esoteric/Esoterica - These words (adjective/noun) refer to language, communications or concepts which are understood only by people of expertise or good knowledge of the subject concerned. Advertising and other communications intended for the general public should not be esoteric, although much of this sort of language is highly esoteric, for example instruction manuals for technical products, and most corporate terms and conditions - usually because these materials are written by specialists who are unable to translate complex terminology into everyday recognizable language. Professional communicators such as advertisers, trainers, leaders, writers of manuals and instructions, etc., should aim instead to be exoteric, which refers to communications which are inclusive, and simple to understand by everyone. This relates strongly to the concept of accessibility . The words are respectively from Greek esotero, within, and exotero, outer. The less commonly used noun forms of the words are esoterica and exoterica, i.e., materials that are respectively inaccessible and accessible.

E-Tailer - An retailer who uses the internet to sell goods and/or services to the public.

Ethernet - Technology, invented by The Xerox Corporation, which connects computers in a local area network (LAN).

Ethics - Offering a definition for 'ethics' is not easy, just as it is not easy to define 'love' or 'justice' or fairness'. Ethics is a challenging concept to define because interpretations depend on philosophical perspective, and one's particular situation in the world. Therefore definitions of ethics tend to be rather vague and open, and tend to include and depend on words which have varying interpretations too, such as morality, and justice, duty, etc. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ethics as: ".. Ethics - 1. Moral principles that govern a person's behaviour (US behavior), or the conducting of an activity. And 2. The branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles..." The OED additionally summarises three main branches of ethical theory: firstly, a) Drawing on the principles of Aristotle, this notion asserts that ethics are underpinned by virtues such as justice, charity, and generosity, which act in ways that benefit the person progressing them, and the person's society. Secondly, b) This concept of ethics, advanced notably by Kant, puts duty central to ethical behaviour, so that people from their knowledge of their duty as being rational human beings, obey a categorical imperative to respect other rational human beings. Thirdly, c) 'Utilitarianism' asserts that the guiding principle of Ethical conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number of people (which is often referred to as 'the greater good')..." Philosophers, academics of all kinds, and lots of extremely wise men have debated ethics for millennia, and in this writer's humble opinion, an absolute definition of ethics is not possible, just as there is no absolute definition of 'love'. Each one of the above definitions contains at least one subjective reference point by which to determine whether something is ethical or not. Moreover, most major industries and societal organizations, have established their own ethical codes, which to varying degrees around the world - for example religion, medicine, corporate governance and banking, education, international finance, armaments, climate change, resources and food, national and local government, charity and the arts - commonly conflict with and contradict each other, often to an alarmingly different and confusing extent. Mostly in our lives, fortunately, ethics are common sense, because mostly people understand what is right and wrong. Right and wrong is basically at the heart of ethics, but of course when people are in conflict, one person's right may be another person's wrong, and 'right' and 'wrong' are themselves just as difficult to define scientifically. Big ethical questions of the modern age - that illustrate this challenge include subjects such: as euthanasia, abortion, globalization, climate-change, technology, human rights, and the basis for wars and armed interventions. In my humble opinion (again), being very pragmatic about the future of the human race, then it is difficult to argue against the notion that the 'greater good' is ultimately the most significant and useful modern definition of ethics, subject to (again in my humble opinion) that 'greater good' decision-making critically includes necessary addititional considerations such as love, care, humanity, compassion, creativity, inclusiveness, transparency, research and testing, and any other relevant positive helpful aspects of relationships and communications, and implementation and follow-up. I'm open to better or extended definitions of ethics, and I thank Patrick for suggesting that this definition be included on this website.

Ethics Committee - In medicine, an independent body which is appointed to examine and consider the rights and safety of people taking part in clinical trials.

Ethnic Monitoring - Recording and evaluating the racial origins of employees in a company to ensure that all races are represented fairly.

Euphemism - the replacement of a strong/offensive word or phrase with an alternative word or phrase considered to be milder/inoffensive. Euphemisms are used widely and very wrongly by politicians and business people attempting to avoid responsibility and personal acknowledgment of mistakes, bad decisions and unjustifiable actions, etc. Euphemisms in such situations are part of 'spin', or spinning a story.

Euroland - Also known as the Eurozone. All the countries in the EU (European Union) that use the Euro as currency.

European Union - EU. Previously called the European Community. An international, economical and political organisation which brought the nations of Europe together so that people, goods, money, services, etc., can move freely between member nations.

Exchange Rate - Also known as Foreign Exchange Rate. The rate, which can vary from day to day, at which a country's currency can be exchanged for another country's currency.

Exchange Rate Exposure - When a business risks losing money because of the need to change one currency for another of lower value.

Execution Risk - The risk that a company's plans, or a project, will fail because of changes being made, e.g. entering a new market, bad management, etc.

Executive Director - Also called Internal Director. A person who usually works as a full-time senior employee for a company, and is responsible for the day to day running of the business, and is often a member of the company's board of directors.

Ex Gratia - Something given or carried out as a favour or gift, rather than as a legal duty.

Exit Strategy - Also called Harvest Strategy. A plan by an investor to dispose of an investment, such as shares in a company, to make a profit, or a business owner to dispose of their company, e.g., by selling the business, floating it on the stock market, ceasing to trade, handing it over to another family member, etc.

Ex Officio - Someone who has a right to be included because of their job or position, e.g. to sit on a committee. (Latin - by virtue of office or position)

Experience Curve - In business, when costs fall and production increases as a result of increase in workers skills and lower material costs.

Expectancy Theory - A theory of motivation developed by Canadian Victor Vroom, Yale professor of management and psychology, established in his 1964 book, Work and Motivation, which essentially states that motivation necessarily comprises and is determined by three elements of belief:

  1. Effort will produce success.
  2. Success will produce reward.
  3. These outcomes will be personally satisfying.

Expert System - A computer software system which can provide expert knowledge for a specific problem when users ask a series of questions.

Export Credit - A loan taken out by an importer with a bank in an exporters country, so that the importer can buy foreign goods and pay for them at a later date.

Export Factoring - A facility offered by banks to exporters. The bank is responsible for collecting payments for exported goods, so that the exporter can borrow money from the bank before the goods have been paid for by the customers.

Exposition - A public event at which businesses, that produce related goods, can showcase their products and/or services.

Ex Stock - Goods which are available for immediate delivery because the supplier has them in stock.

Extension Strategy - A marketing strategy to stop a product going into decline by making small changes to it, reaching new customers or finding new uses for it, e.g. a drink which was sold as an aid to those recovering from illness is now sold as a sports drink.

External Competitiveness - Being able to sell goods and services to customers in foreign countries at a competitive price.

External Debt - Also known as Foreign Debt. Money that is owed by the government, organisations or individuals to creditors in other countries.

External Equity - A situation in which an organisation's employees receive similar pay for the same type of work as employees in other organisations, i.e., pay which is equal to market rates.

Extranet - A private computer network to which a company's customers and suppliers can link and communicate using the Internet.

Extrapolation - The estimation or determination of what will happen in the future by extending (extrapolating) known information or data. The verb usage 'extrapolate' is common and means using mathematics or other logical process to extend a proven trend or set of data. 'What if?..' scenarios and business modelling generally involves some sort of extrapolation. It's a way of predicting something by assuming a historical pattern will continue into the future.

Ex Works - Goods which are delivered to the purchaser at the plant or place where they are manufactured. The purchaser then pays for transporting and insuring the goods from that point.

Eyeballs - Advertising term. A name given to the number of people who visit a website advertisement, which can be counted by the number of click-throughs.

E-Zine - An electronic magazine which is published on the internet, or delivered by e-mail.


Factory Floor - The area of a factory where the goods are made. Also the collective name of the ordinary workers in a factory, rather than management.

Factory Price - The price charged for goods direct from the factory, not including transport costs, etc. Factory Price is often quoted by retailers or in advertisements to show that products are for sale at a very low price.

Fairy Dust - A term often used in the entertainment business. The final enhancement or touch on a project. The unknown factor which turns something great into something fantastic.

Fallen Angel - Term used in finance to describe bonds which once had a good investment value, but have now dropped in value to a much lower rating.

False Accounting - A criminal offence. Giving false information in, or destroying, a company's accounts, usually for personal gain. Fraud.

False Bottom - On the stock market, selling prices which seem to have already hit their lowest level because of a subsequent price rise then fall through a false bottom because the price falls even lower.

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) - Products (and the related industry) which are sold in big volumes by big retailers at low profit margins, at keen prices, to domestic consumers - traditionally foods and groceries, household consumables, etc., and nowadays extending to any products of short life and disposable/consumable nature. See FMCG in the acronyms section .)

Fast Track - Quick route in a career to success and promotion, associated with high ambition.

Fat Cat - A wealthy person living off investments or dividends, or a chief executive of a large company or organisation who is on a very large salary, huge pension, etc.

Fault Tolerance - Enables a system, especially in computing, to continue to operate properly even though a component in the system has failed.

Feasibility Study - A preliminary assessment of a new project, including costs, risks, etc., to determine whether the project will be successful and practical.

Feather-Bedding - A term often used in industry describing the practice of hiring more workers than is necessary to carry out a job, often because of a contract with a union.

Federation - An organisation which has been formed by the joining together of a group of companies, clubs, etc.

Fiat Currency/Fiat Money - A very bold term for monetary currency which is established and traded as a national currency, such as US Dollar, Sterling, Euro, etc. From Latin 'fiat', 'it shall be'.

Fidelity Bond - Also known as Fidelity Insurance. Protects an employer against any losses incurred because of dishonesty, or damage caused, by an employee.

Fiduciary - Describes an organisation or individual who manages money or property for a beneficiary.

Figurehead - In business, organizations, politics, etc., a person who holds an important position or office but lacks real power or authority; a 'front man'. Derived from the carved painted figurehead models which traditionally were fixed to the front of sailing ships.

Filibuster - To delay or obstruct legislation by giving long speeches in a parliamentary debating process, so as to 'talk out a bill', i.e., ensure that the debate is prolonged beyond the deadline for passing a bill which would otherwise have been approved. The noun filibuster refers to a person who does this, or to the act of filibustering, which is commonly done by more than one person acting together. There are occasional cases of lone filibusters standing and talking for several hours without a break. Filibustering may be used for purposes that have lots of popular support, or virtually no popular support. The term entered US politics from American-Spanish but ultimately is from Dutch vrijbuiter, pirate.

Fill or kill - Also FOK, on the stock exchange, an instruction received by a broker from a client to buy or sell specified shares immediately or not at all.

Filofax - A personal organiser (and the name of the company which makes it), which was very popular in the 1980s, with pages which can be easily removed or added. This product was associated with 'Yuppies'.

Finance - To provide or obtain funds for a business, commercial project, an individual, etc. The management of money. To sell or provide goods on credit.

Financial Engineering - The practice of solving financial problems or creating financial opportunities in a company, by changing the way money is borrowed, debts paid, etc.

Financial Equity - The ownership of interest in a company, usually in the form of shares.

Finite Capacity Scheduling - A process in which a computer program organises tasks, matching the resources available to the most efficient way of production.

Firepower - The amount of power, money and/or influence that is available to a business or organisation.

Firewall - A system in a computer which prevents unwanted or unauthorised access, but allows the authorised user to receive information.

Firmware - Describes the fixed programs, which cannot be lost or changed, in electronic devices such as digital cameras, calculators, remote controls, etc.

First Mover - A business that gains an advantage by being the first to establish itself in a specific market by producing a new product or offering a new service, or by being the first to use new technology.

First Order Of Business - The most important task to be dealt with.

Fiscal Drag - A situation in which wages rise because of inflation but income tax thresholds are not increased, which can push people into higher tax brackets and therefore makes them pay an increased proportion of their wages in tax.

Fiscal Policy - A government policy to regulate a nation's annual economic activity by setting tax levels and determining government expenditure.

Five Nines - Refers to the 99.999% of the time that some companies claim their computer systems work properly.

Fixed Assets - Assets, such as property, equipment, furniture, vehicles, etc., which are owned by a company and which are needed to operate the business.

Fixed Costs - Costs, or overheads , which are incurred by a business whether or not it is operating or generating income, such as wages, rent, insurance, utilities (for example electricity, gas, water), etc.

Fixed Parity - In foreign exchange, when the currency of one country is equal in value to the currency of another country.

Fixed Term Contract - Also known as Temporary Contract. A contract of employment which ends on a specific date, or on completion of a task or project. Fixed term employees have the rights to the same pay, conditions and benefits as full-time employees.

Fixer - A person who makes arrangements for someone else, usually for a fee, by using their influence and often underhand, illegal methods.

Flame - To send a rude or unacceptable message by e-mail, or to post a message on an Internet forum which is offensive or inciteful.

Flash Drive - A small portable device such as a 'pen drive' which connects to a USB port on a computer and is used to store data which can then be transferred to another computer. The term flash drive derives from 'flash' memory, invented by Dr Fujio Masuoka of Toshiba around 1980. The name flash (apparently, according to Wikipedia, 2010) was suggested by Masuoka's colleague, Shoji Ariizumi, who likened the memory erasure function to a camera flash.

Flash Mob - A secretly-planned (usually via modern computerised social networking technology), quickly-formed, organized group of people, assembled to engage in a quirky activity, typically for the amusement and entertainment of the participants. Potentially the term may be applied to similar gatherings organized for more conventional promotional, protest or other publicity/pressure purposes, although this strays somewhat from the usual concept, in which the flash mob event is an aim in itself, rather than part of a wider campaign with a specific purpose. The expression is not new. It originated in the 1940s US underworld when it referred to a gang of thieves or confidence tricksters. The word flash has been used in various criminal contexts since the 1600s and in the original 1940s phrase flash mob, flash literally meant criminal. The modern use of the flash mob expression naturally fits the notion of flash photography, a fast or fleeting appearance, a 'flash of inspiration', and especially the recent understanding of flash in relation to quick technology such as flash memory and flash drives. See also mob .

Flats - In the entertainment industry, these are painted canvas sheets fixed onto wooden frames used on film sets, etc. for scenery.

Flexecutive - A manager who works flexible hours, often from home using the Internet. A multi-skilled executive who can change tasks or jobs with ease.

Flexitime - A work system in which employees work a set number of hours each week or month, but they decide when they are going to start and finish each day, usually between a range of given working hours.

Flight Capital - The movement of large sums of money from one of investment to another, or from one country to another, to avoid high taxes or financial instability due to political unrest.

Flighting - A cost effective method of advertising. A commercial is scheduled to appear on TV, usually when viewing figures are high (flight). There are periods in between the flights when the commercial does not appear on TV (hiatus). During the TV hiatus the product being advertised will often appear in newspapers or magazines, so the public is continually aware of it.

Floatation - See definition for Flotation.

Floor Limit - In retailing, the highest amount of money for a sale for which a debit or credit card can be used by a customer without authorisation from the customer's bank.

Floor Trader - Also known as a Local. An investor who is allowed on the trading floor of a stock exchange, to buy and sell shares, etc., for their own account.

Flotation - The process of financing a company by selling shares on the stock exchange for the first time.

Flyback - Also known as a Callback. A series of screening interviews for a job during which a person, usually a student, is interviewed several times, often on the same same day, by the prospective employer.

Flynn Effect - Research showing that the results of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests in various countries (i.e. internationally) have risen consistently over several decades, (after political scientist James R Flynn).

FMCG - Fast Moving Consumer Goods (see Fast Moving Consumer Goods above and/or FMCG in the acronyms section)

Focus List - A list of companies, recommended by an investment firm, whose shares are worth buying or selling.

Footer - In a report or document, a line or block of text that appears at the bottom of every page which is printed from a computer.

Footfall - The extent or measure of numbers of people who visit a business or shop or other retail/leisure/entertainment venue during a given period of time. Footfall is a crucial factor in retailing methods, and also in promotion and advertising which focuses on the physical presence - on foot - of consumers at a particular location.

Force Field Analysis - A technique developed by Kurt Lewin to support positive factors and decrease negative factors, as the result of a change in an organisation.

Force Majeure - A clause in a contract which exempts the contracting party (e.g., insurer) from liability in the event of an unforeseen intervention or catastrophe which prevents fulfilment of contractual obligations, such as war, act of God, etc. The term force majeure is French, meaning loosely 'superior strength'.

Forex - Also called FX, refers to Foreign Exchange, in which foreign currencies are bought and sold.

Fortune 500 - Published by Fortune magazine, an annual list of the 500 US corporations with the largest revenue.

Forwarding company - Also called a 'freight forwarder', a company specialising in transfer of freight from businesses or individuals by finding an appropriate transporter of the goods.

Forward Integration - A business strategy whereby a company takes control of its distributors, therefore guaranteeing the distribution of the controlling company's products.

Four-Colour Process - In printing, the use of four ink colours - yellow, magenta, cyan and black - which are combined together to produce the whole spectrum of colours.

Fractional Ownership - An arrangement where a number of people or companies each buy a percentage of an expensive asset, such as a property. The individual owners then share the asset, and when it is sold the profits are distributed back to the owners.

Franchise/Franchising - An authorization or licence - effectively a business methodology, which can be bought - enabling someone (franchisee) to use the franchisor's company name and trademarks to sell their products services, etc., and usually to receive certain support, in a particular town, area of a country, or international region. A franchise for a whole country is typically called a master franchise, and typically may include rights to operate as a sub-franchisor responsible for developing and managing a franchise network. The term derives from the term franc, Old French for free, which was adopted into English corporate law in the late middle-ages to signify a grant of legal immunity, which in turn grew in legal application and technical meaning to become franchising, whereby a franchisor grants licence to a franchisee to make use of its business methods, products, brands, technologies, innovation, purchasing power, marketing, etc. Some extremely well-known large corporations have grown using the franchise model, for example, Mcdonald's, Subway, Avis, and Hilton Hotels. While franchising can theoretically be applied to any market sector, it typically entails reliable replication of high quality products/services, supported by clever/protected technology, patents, branding, together with proven training, marketing and business support. Most franchises emerge at the beginning of their respective product life-cycle , when innovation and novelty is significant, and barriers to market entry are challenging. As such, many entrepreneurs decide that franchising offers an appealing option compared to starting up a business completely independently from nothing. When innovation and novelty has declined in major established franchise organizations, market appeal and position is subsequently maintained by exploiting strengths of brand(s), marketing, and financial strength.

Free Collective Bargaining - A situation in which workers and union members meet with employers to discuss working conditions, pay, etc., in talks that are not limited by law or government.

Freeconomics - A situation in which companies provide certain goods and services for free, and those businesses who don't follow suit are likely to fail.

Freedom Of Association - The right of individuals to join together to form, or join an existing, group or organisation, including a union.

Free Enterprise - An economic system in which private businesses have the freedom to compete with each other for profit, with minimal interference from the government.

Free Market - A market in which prices of goods and services are affected by supply and demand, rather than government regulation.

Free On Board - Maritime trade term. The supplier delivers the goods to a ship at a specified port. The supplier then pays the shipping costs after obtaining official clearance. Once they have been put on board, the buyer is then responsible for the goods.

Free Port - A port where goods can be brought and stored temporarily, without custom duties having to be paid, before being shipped to another country.

Freepost - A UK postal system, usually used in business, in which the recipient business pays the postage on mail, rather than the sender or customer.

Free Rider - A person or organisation that enjoys benefits and services provided by others, and doesn't pay their fair share of the costs.

Freeware - Computer software that is copyrighted by the author and offered, usually on the Internet, free of charge.

Free Zone - An area in a country where importers can store foreign goods, prior to further transportation, without having to pay customs duties or taxes on them.

Frictional Unemployment - Unemployment of people who are temporarily between jobs, changing careers, changing location, etc.

Fringe Benefit - A benefit given to employees in addition to their salary, such as a company car, pension scheme, paid holidays, etc.

Front-End Load - A fee charged for an investment, for example an insurance policy, limited partnership, mutual fund, etc. The fee is made with the initial payment, and subsequent payments are therefore lower.

FTSE - An abbreviation of the Financial Times Stock Exchange (Index), commonly referred to verbally as 'footsie'. There are various FTSE indices (indexes), including most notably the FTSE 100, which is the index of the top 100 shares on the London Stock Exchange, whose movement is regarded as an important indicator of national (and wider) economic health and buoyancy. The FTSE 100 represents about 80% of the market capitalization of all shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, which is interesting considering over 3,000 companies are listed in total. For Pareto enthusiasts (the '80-20 Rule') that's 3.3% of listed companies, accounting for 80% of total market value of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, which is even by Pareto standards an extreme ratio of concentration. When economic commentators say the "...the footsie is up/down (a number of points)..." this is a reference to the relative movement of share prices among the companies listed in (usually) the FTSE 100. The 'footsie' is owned and operated by FTSE Group, which is basically a provider of economic information and data services, especially about stock and commodity exchanges. FTSE Group was until 2012 50% owned by Pearson Group (owners of the Financial Times newspaper group) and 50% by the London Stock Exchange, the latter buying full ownership from Pearson in 2012. It is not likely that the 'Financial Times' origins of the FTSE abbreviation will be strongly acknowledged in future, given its change of ownership.

Fulfillment/fulfilment - In the context of business and retailing, fulfilment refers to the processing of a (consumer or commercial) customer's purchase/order - i.e., a 'sale'. Fulfilment is generally considered to happen after the order is placed and usually payment is made, completing on confirmation of safe and correct delivery to the customer. Payment/invoicing is generally separate from the fulfilment process/provider. In most cases fulfilment entails the warehousing, stock management, product 'picking', order assembly/compiling, packaging and delivery, then confirmation of safe delivery, of products/orders for which payment has already been made. Fulfilment may be an internal activity of the selling organization, or may instead be contracted to an external provider of fulfilment services. Fulfilment has an entirely different meaning in the context of human emotional wellbeing, in which it refers to feelings/situations of personal happiness and life-balance , achievement and wellbeing itself, without stress, pressure or other negative effects.

Fulfilment House - A provider of order-processing fulfilment services to a 'selling' company, typically processing sales/orders of the selling company, through to the delivery of products to the purchaser. Specific activities of a fulfilment house generally include warehousing, stock control, order picking, packaging, distribution/delivery to the customer (and confirmation thereof), and typically a degree of direct customer communications, and potentially handling returns.

Full-Time Contract - FT. A permanent or ongoing contract of employment in which the employee works at least the standard number of hours in a working week, usually 35.

Fungible - Describes goods or commodities which can be exchanged for something of the same kind, of equal value and quality.


Gaffer - In the entertainment industry, a member of a film crew who handles the lighting equipment.

Gagging Clause - An informal term which has become generally used in formal business/employment language, a 'gagging clause' is a clause in an employment contract, or more commonly a termination contract, which prevents an employee from disclosing certain information about the company or employing organization (typically extending to related organizations/interests) to the press, union officers, authorities, etc., and by implication also extending to the police. Often an employer agrees or enforces a payment with/upon the employee to secure the signature to the gagging clause or contract which contains it. While the contract may in some instances be mutually fair and agreeable, often the mechanism is used unjustly and forcibly by employers against departing 'whistleblowers' because the organization fears exposure of faults, problems, liabilities, and potentially criminal behaviour/behavior, etc. A 'gagging clause' is commonly instead and euphemistically called a 'compromise agreement' by employers keen to obscure their operational failings and the shame of using such an instrument.

Gagging Order - A legal order issued by a court to prevent the public reporting of a court case.

Gainsharing - Also called profit sharing. An incentive system which enables employees to have a share in a company's profits.

Gamekeepers and Poachers ( 'gamekeeper turned poacher' ) - A metaphor referring to employees who are respectively supportive or destructive towards their employing organization, and especially to those who become disaffected and negative due to poor treatment, and convert from being a supportive positive loyal hard-working member of staff ('gamekeeper') to being obstructive, resistant, non-cooperative, argumentative, etc., ('poachers'), and in extreme cases actually committed to sabotaging or destroying the employer, which may also include going to work for a competitor, especially exploiting valuable knowledge of products, markets, methods, customers, other contacts, etc., so as to target and win customers from the previous employer ( 'poaching' ).

Game Theory - Sometimes called Games Theory, this is a potentially highly complex branch of mathematics increasingly found in business which uses the analysis of competing strategies (of for example market participants) and their effects opon each other to predict and optimise outcomes and results. Relates strongly to cause and effect and chaos theory. Game Theory may also arise in military strategy.

Gantt Chart - Developed by Henry Gantt in 1917. A type of bar chart which illustrates the scheduled and completed work of a project. It shows start and finish dates, compares work planned to work done and tracks specific tasks.

Gap Analysis - Enables a company to assess the gap between its actual performance and its potential performance, by comparing what skills, products, etc. are available to what is required to improve performance, output, etc.

Garden Leave - Also called Gardening Leave. Term used when an employee's contract has been terminated but they are instructed by the company to stay away from work, on full pay, during their notice period. Often to prevent them from working for competitors during that time.

Garnish - To take part of someone's wages, by law, to pay their debts, e.g. child support, alimony.

Gatekeeper - A person in an organisation who controls access to the people in the organisation, and/or controls access to information or goods, or even a market. Microsoft could be described as a gatekeeper to the computer industry. Google could be described as a gatekeeper to the internet industry.

Gazelle - A US term for a fast growing company that creates a lot of job opportunities, and which has grown by at least 20% in the last four years.

Gazump - In selling and buying property, a term used to describe when a purchaser has an offer accepted by the vendor but is then gazumped because someone else makes the vendor a higher offer which the vendor then accepts instead of the first person's offer.

GDP - Acronym for Gross Domestic Product, a significant measure of economic performance. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the market value of national final goods/services. GDP per capita (per head) is generally considered an indicator of national standard of living.

Geek Speak - Technical language often used by computer experts which doesn't make sense to non-technical people.

General Creditor - A person or company that lends unsecured money, so that the creditor is unlikely to recover much of the loan if the debtor goes bankrupt or does not pay it back.

Generalist - A person who has a broad general knowledge at a high level, and/or many skills.

General Strike - Widespread withdrawal of labour by a nation's workforce, which aims at bringing the country to a standstill because of a disagreement over pay and/or working conditions. -

Generation X - A term used for people born during the 1960s and 1970s, who are often described as disaffected and irresponsible.

Genericized Trademark/Brand - A trademark or brand which has become a generally used word in common language in referring to all versions/makes/types of the product class, for example Hoover, Sellotape, Durex, etc. Corporations whose trademarks develop in this way try to reduce the commercial threat (to the protectable status and asset value of the brandname as intellectual property) typically by legal action against anyone exploiting or misusing the name, especially competitors. Where a court decides that the name has been substantially genericized for many years, or its protections in adequate or undermined, then these legal actions and effective trademark registration/protection may be lost. In terms of language used by the general public, resistance/action by the name owner is basically hopeless, given that the cause is societal/cultural/language-change on a vast scale. Below is a list of famous genericized trademarks; some are no longer registered/protected, and protections may vary in different parts of the world. The registration/protection status is interesting for publishing/reference reasons because technically registered trademarks should be shown with the TM or R symbol. Quite separately the effect of genericized trademarks demonstrates the power of big brands to enter public consciousness at a generic and fundamental level of language and culture. Some people argue that a genericized trademark is by definition one that has lost its official protected 'trademark' status. The counter-argument is that in such circumstances the term 'genericized trademark' is contradictory, as it would no longer be a trademark. Whatever, here is a list of trademarks (which may be current, expired, or legally overturned) that can reasonably be considered genericized to a lesser or greater degree , i.e., the word is used sometimes or almost always by ordinary people to refer to similar products and variants regardless of manufacturer and actual brandname:

examples of genericized trademarks/brand names - many remain protected trademarks
  • Adrenalin
  • Aspirin
  • Astroturf
  • Band-aid
  • Bakelite
  • Biro
  • Bubblewrap
  • Catseye
  • Cellophane
  • Chapstick
  • Coke
  • Dictaphone
  • Dormobile
  • Dry ice
  • Dumpster
  • Durex
  • Filofax
  • Formica
  • Frisbee
  • Heroin
  • Hoover
  • Hula-hoop
  • I-pod
  • Jacuzzi
  • JCB
  • Jeep
  • Jet-ski
  • Jiffy bag
  • Kleenex
  • Lanolin
  • Laundromat
  • Lava lamp
  • Lilo
  • Linoleum/Lino
  • Matchbox (toy car)
  • Memory stick
  • Muzak
  • Perspex
  • Philadelphia
  • Photoshop
  • Plexiglass
  • Popsicle
  • Portakabin
  • Post-it (note)
  • Pot Noodle
  • Pritt stick
  • Q-tip
  • Realtor
  • Rizla
  • Rollerblade
  • Primal Therapy
  • Scalextric
  • Scotchtape
  • Sellotape
  • Ski-doo
  • Spidola (a transistor radio in Russia)
  • Stanley knife
  • Superglue
  • Stetson
  • Tannoy
  • Tarmac
  • Taser
  • Thermos
  • Tippex
  • Tivoli
  • Touch-tone
  • Vaseline
  • Velcro
  • Videotape
  • Walkman
  • Windex
  • Wite-out
  • Winnebago
  • Webster's Dictionary
  • Xerox
  • Yale
  • Yo-Yo
  • ZIP code
  • Zipper
(Note that many of these genericized brand names remain strongly protected in commercial use, in certain territories. Trademark owners cannot object to common usage in speech, but can certainly take legal action against competitors or other ways that the names might be exploitated without permission.)

Gerontocracy - A government or political system which is ruled by old men (elders).

Get All Your Ducks In A Row - A term for getting organised, having everything in order and making sure all the small details are accounted for before embarking on a new project.

Get Go - From the start, the earliest stage of something. Used in the phrase 'From the get go.'

Gift Tax - A tax payable on gifts over a certain annual value made during the lifetime of the giver.

Giro - A system, used in some countries, of transferring money from one bank or post office account into another using a central computer.

Giveback - An agreement in which employees accept a wage reduction or fewer benefits as a gesture of goodwill, usually because of an economic downturn. The employees are often offered wage rises and new benefits at a later date.

Glamour Stock - A company's shares, which are very popular with investors, because they have performed well on the stock exchange.

Glamping - A portmanteau word meaning 'glamorous camping', for example staying in a posh serviced yurt (a large Mongolian-style nomadic tent) and eating luxury hamper foods.

Glass Ceiling - An invisible barrier in the workplace which prevents women and minority groups from advancing to positions of leadership in a company, although some do manage to 'break through' the glass ceiling.

Glass Wall - An imaginary barrier in the workplace which prevents women and minority groups from being employed in other sectors of business or industry.

Glitterati - Combination of Glitter and Literati. Glamorous, rich, famous people, often connected to show business.

Globalisation - The process of integrating nations, economically and socially, through free trade, international business activities, technology (for example the Internet), etc.

Global Village - A term used to describe the whole world as a single community, connected by electronic communication systems, such as the Internet.

Glocalisation - Global Localisation. A term used when an international company adapts its manufacturing methods, products or services to suit local conditions.

Gobbledegook - or Gobbledygook or Gobbledegoo - Incomprehensible jargon. Official language, spoken or printed or online, which is intended to explain or justify or inform or clarify or instruct, but which actually confuses people instead, because it is phrased in a stupid or unnecessarily complex way. Alternatively called 'Officialese', or 'Bureaucratese', gobbledegook is common in marketing, product instructions (especially for electronic products), contracts, training manuals, official communications, and certainly in politics, and local government. Here below is a short example in which a 2012 UK tax form (SA1035) attempts to instruct users how to complete a section requiring a profit figure. See also Plain Language , and gobbledygoo origins .



Gofer - From 'Go for'. An employee who runs errands, as well as doing their normal job, usually in an office or on a film set. A dogsbody.

Golden Formula - In the UK, a term used to describe industrial action, or strikes, which are legal, i.e., about matters connected to working conditions and employment, rather than political matters, and that workers striking for legal reasons should not lose their jobs.

Golden Handcuffs - Financial incentives or benefits given to a valued employee to ensure that they continue working for a company, and to discourage them from wanting to leave to work for another company.

Golden Handshake - Usually offered to high-ranking executives in a large company. A clause in their contract which provides them with a large sum of money and/or other benefits in the event of them losing their job or retiring.

Golden Parachute - A company's agreement with an employee, usually a top executive, which promises a significant amount of money and/or benefits if the employee is forced to leave their job, usually because of a change of company ownership, outside of the control of the original employer company.

Gold Reserve - The amount of gold bullion or gold coins held by a country's central bank to support its currency and provide security for its international debts.

Gone To The Wall - Describes a business which has failed.

Goodwill - The difference or premium which a purchaser pays, or which a seller asks, for a business or company compared to the 'book value' of its assets, typically representing intangibles such as brand value, intellectual property, talent, market relationships, etc., and which tend to reflect the overall value and appeal with which the purchaser regards the target acquisition. Over-estimating goodwill value, sometimes to an extraordinarily stupid degree, is a surprisingly common downfall of many big corporate takeover deals, when arrogance and blindness to market trends of the acquiring CEO and takeover team can lead to a reckless waste of shareholder funds and ruthless cost-cutting, post-acquisition, when performance, synergies and return on investment fail to reach required levels.

Googlewhack - Two proper words (found in a dictionary) which together produce just a single result from a normal Google search. A googlewhack tends not to retain its status indefinitely, and sometimes only fleetingly, because due to the strange popularity of the effect, googlewhacks are likely to be published on the web when discovered, which immediately produces a second occurrence. Aside from the study of language and statistics there is no earthly purpose for this phenomenon, which apparently was first described by Gary Stock in 2001 and who runs a website dedicated to the concept.

Grace - A period of time given to a debtor to enable them to pay an overdue bill or loan, or extra time given in a contract for a piece of work to be finished.

Grandfather Clause - A provision in a new law which allows the person or business already engaged in the activity, which may have been made illegal, to continue to be so engaged.

Graphology - The study of handwriting, often used as a way of analysing a person's character. See graphology .

Grass Roots - The ordinary people in a business or organisation, rather than the management or the decision-makers.

Gratis - To do or give something without payment. Free of charge.

Graveyard Market - A term used on the Stock Exchange to describe a Bear Market in which share owners are reluctant to sell because they face substantial losses, and buyers are reluctant to buy because the financial outlook is poor. Those who are in it can't get out, and those who are on the outside have no desire to get in.

Gravy Train - A business activity which makes a large profit for an individual or an organisation without much effort. To have it easy.

Green Audit - Also called Environmental Audit. An official assessment which shows the effect that an organisation or a company has on the environment.

Greenback - An informal term for US paper money, i.e., the dollar, derived from the colour of the money.

Green Card - In the US, a legal document which allows an immigrant to become a permanent resident, to work legally and to become eligible for citizenship.

Green Paper - A discussion document, typically written and circulated in governmental situations, aiming to start a discussion and the process of producing a white paper, so as to table new legislation. See white paper .

Green Taxes - Also called Ecotax. Taxes which are levied on companies, businesses, etc., to discourage activities which will harm the environment.

Grey Knight - A third person, or company, who makes an unsolicited bid in a corporate takeover, and who takes advantage of any problems which arise between the first bidder (White Knight) and the company being acquired.

Grey Swan/Gray Swan - a marketing/economics/probability expression inspired by Nassim Taleb in his books about random events with big consequences, a 'grey swan' refers to a major predicted or known event of national or more usually international significance, which has uncertain outcomes and unquantifiable effects on society, economics, etc. See also the main expression, Black Swan .

Grey Market/Gray Market - In marketing and business a grey market (gray market in US-English) is the supply of official goods through unofficial channels, for example the availability of branded consumer products on the internet from unauthorized stockists. Also called a parallel market or product diversion . These terms do not refer to counterfeit goods. The reference is to the unofficial, sometimes illegal, distribution and availability of official branded original goods. The term alludes to the older expression 'black market', and is used or analysed most commonly from the standpoint of manufacturers, who generally regard grey markets as threatening to their marketing distribution and pricing strategies. The term grey market extends widely and includes notably the substantial availability of products which have been diverted from one international marketing territory to another.

Grip - In the film and TV industry, a member of the film crew who makes sure that the lighting is right for a scene. They also move scenery and set up large pieces of equipment.

Gross Domestic Product - Commonly abbreviated to GDP, Gross Domestic Product is a very frequently used term in business and economics, and basically refers to a nation's total production at market values. GDP is however not easily explained or understood at a detailed and precise level. GDP may be calculated in different ways. Each method requires some qualification of precise definition, and then comprises quite complex formulae, mainly to ensure there is no double-counting, and no ommissions. The main methods seem to be as follows, although each nation has its own rules, and various institutional bodies produce other rules and standards for calculations and definitions. Ordinary people can reasonably regard fully detailed definitions of GDP very confusing. Lots of experts do too. Here is a very simple guide: Simply, and firstly, GDP may be calculated by totalling the market (sales) values of all products and services. GDP may instead be expressed as the combined total spending on products and services by consumers, industry and state. Alternatively, GDP may be expressed in terms of a population's total incomes, plus other items such as corporate profits and taxes on products/services. Each of these methods contains several and variable minor additional factors and caviats. Other methods exist as well, as if the basic two or three methods were not confusing enough.

Gross Profit Margin - Expressed as a percentage, what is left from a company's sales after cost of goods sold is paid out. Gross profit margin is obtained by dividing gross income by net sales.

Guru - An influential teacher or an expert in a particular subject who shares their knowledge, often by writing books.


Hacker - Nowadays the word hacker commmonly refers to a person who breaks into or 'hacks' into the secure computer systems of an organization, especially websites and online systems, using online connection, often just as a technical challenge, or potentially with intent to steal, destroy, vandalise information, websites, etc. Originally however the terms hack and hacker referred to a person who enjoyed exploring and experimenting - perfectly legitimately and legally - with computer code and related computing systems, out of curiosity or for purposes of technical challenge and improvement, discovery, etc. This is an example of how language and meanings evolve over time, particularly when a term becomes distorted for dramatic effect by mass media. Be aware in this case therefore, that some people - especially original 'old-school' hackers and computer code enthusiasts could be offended and unjustly maligned by the criminal implication of the common illicit hacking interpretation. Incidentally among coding enthusiasts the original technical term for a criminal 'hacker' was a 'cracker'. (Thanks to Vit Kavan, an 'old-school' hacker, for help in for clarifying this entry.)

Haggle - Negotiate with someone over the price of something until an agreeably mutual price is reached.

Haircut - a percentage subtraction from the market value of an asset, typically on a large scale, enforced by a powerful institution or authority in response to debt/liabilities incurred by the asset owners/investors, producing an effective devaluation of the asset. The 'haircut' term became a more general description for a tax or levy imposed on ordinary savings accounts with reference to the EU-imposed tax on Cyprus bank deposits in 2013, although the underpinning principle/cause was consistent with the technical meaning of the term.

Hall Test - A term used when a group of people are gathered together at a particular location and asked to take part in market research.

Halo Effect - Where the image or reputation of a person (or group or organization or brand or other entity) is enhanced by influence from or association with the quality of another situation. A halo effect typically refers to an unreliable indicator of good quality (ethics, goodness, honesty, value, benevolence, etc) but might rarely instead refer to an unreliable indicator of negative quality.

Handbill - A small printed advertisement, usually on one sheet, often given out to people by hand.

Hands-Free - Term used when a telephone can be used without having to be held in the hand.

Hands-Off - A term often applied to managers who do not directly participate when dealing with a situation in the workplace by letting the people involved decide what they want to do.

Hard Selling - An aggressive type of selling which puts a lot of pressure on a prospective customer to buy a product or a service.

Harvesting - A term used when a product is still being sold, although it is no longer being invested in, prior to being withdrawn from the market.

Hashtag - A type of tag (here a prefix used with a word/term/reference/etc via electronic keypads, computing, smartphones, etc) in the social networking website Twitter and similar short messaging systems, so that a word preceded by the hash symbol (#) may be found subsequently or otherwise organized, analyzed, displayed, etc. The symbol is generally called the pound sign in the US, since it is used commonly instead of the traditional British £ symbol in referring to sterling currency.

Hawthorne Effect - Specifically the inclination of a group of workers to change their behaviour positively because they were being studied, irrespective of whether they were subjected to 'positive' or 'negative' conditions. First observed in studies by Elton Mayo at the Western Electric plant in Chicago, beginning 1928. The Hawthorne Effect basically established that attitude was more influenced by emotional rather than economic factors. See Hawthorne Effect summary .

Headhunt - To find a person who is specialised in a particular job, usually for a senior position in a company, and then persuade them to leave their present employment.

Health And Safety - Concerned with the protection of employees from risks and dangers in the workplace.

Health And Safety At Work Act - HSWA. In Britain, a 1974 act of Parliament which regulates and reinforces the health, safety and welfare of employees in the workplace.

Heatseeker - A person who, without fail, always buys the most up to date version of an existing product as soon as it comes onto the market.

Hedge Fund - A type of investment fund, which is unregulated and usually very high risk, used by individuals and organisations (not the general public) with large amounts of money to invest.

Heuristic/Heuristics - A concept within psychology referring to instinctive thinking based on learned 'rules', habits and tendencies (increasingly understood and defined by experts) which people use to make judgements and decisions. Sometimes heuristic thinking is helpful; other times not. Heuristics are extremely useful in understanding and influencing human behaviour/behavior, especially in groups. More generally the word heuristic describes personal learning and discovery, as distinct from being told or taught or instructed by somebody else. This may involve trial and error, and within a learning or training environment crucially must allow for people to make mistakes, as a method of developing effective ideas and solutions. The word is from Greek, heuriskein, to find. See Nudge theory , within which heuristic thinking is explained and featured strongly.

High Net Worth - Term which describes a rich individual or family who have investable assets of $1million or more, but this can vary. A person with more than $50million is classed as Ultra High Net Worth. (as at 2009)

Hire Purchase - HP. A contract between a buyer and seller in which the buyer takes possession of an item and then pays for it in regular instalments, usually monthly, and does not become the owner of the item until the final payment has been made. Also referred to as 'Buying on the never-never'.

Holding Company - A company which is formed for owning and holding controlling shares in other companies.

Hole in The Wall - An informal term for a cash dispensing machine, also called an ATM (automated teller machine).

Homeostasis/homoeostasis - Homeostasis is a powerful and illuminating concept. Technically, yet somewhat unhelpfully, the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) defines homeostasis as "The tendency towards a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes". Homeostasis is perhaps more easily understood initially via its Greek roots, meaning 'similar' and 'standing still'. Homeostasis refers scientifically to the act of 'self-balancing' or 'internally self-compensating' in ecological/biological systems. For example, the notion that planet Earth tends to balance itself, adjusting life-forms in response to environmental conditions. On a smaller scale a detailed instance is offered in the natural and eventually balanced re-population of life-forms on Krakatoa island after devastating earthquake in 1883. Many argue that planet Earth naturally self-balances its life and atmospheric situation over quite short periods, and particularly millennia, thus ensuring survival/continuity. Humankind's survival is not guaranteed within this; but the planet's survival, and life of one sort or another, probably is. Such self-balancing of a system is called homeostasis. Even more fascinatingly the term homeostasis refers to human life generally where people/societies tend to adjust risk/consumption according to consequences, driven by resistance to change. 'Reaction to feedback' is crucial in homeostasis, whereby a system or relationship reacts to a change in one element of the relationship/system, by making a compensating change in another part, or other parts, of the relationship/system, so as to mainatin continuity and balance. In human terms this is very typically seen as avoidance of overall system change, which is usually felt to be threatening. We can see this and other sorts of homeostatic theory acting in practice for example where:

  • Players of dangerous/contact sports tend to increase their exposure to risk in response to increasing the wearing of protective padding/equipment. Boxing gloves, for example, enable/encourage the tolerance/exposure to far more punches than would be the case in bare-knuckle fighting; similarly rugby and other contact sports see greater exposure to impact risk when more protective gear is worn.
  • Homeostasis is very significant in mating/family relationships, where the relationship is defined far more by the nature of the people involved, rather than any interventions or changes, which tend to produce compensating reactions, fundamentally driven by the need to preserve the essential relationship, which may commonly contain outwardly undesirable features, but nevertheless are satisfying a need within the relationship, perverse or otherwise.
  • The development of political empires and dominant economic regions tend to be self-limiting/balancing over time because absolute global superiority is not a 'balanced' system. Economic/political expansion therefore tends always to produce counter-effects, such as ethnic unrest/rebellion, and irresistible economic or cultural advantage/opportunity elsewhere, ensuring that power shifts geographically over time, rather than keeps growing indefinitely.
  • The balance between work and leisure in life does not significantly alter despite massive technological advancement. As technology improves theoretical efficiency, and potentially creates more time for leisure, so work, driven by competition, expands to use the all available capacity.
  • Roads are excellent examples of homeostatic systems. As capacity increases, so does traffic to fill it. As traffic increases, so does inefficiency, which provides a counter-effect, so that counter-intuitively, the best way to reduce traffic congestion is to reduce road capacity, not increase it. Increasing capacity in all systems inevitably increases demand, and means simply that when problems arise they are bigger. This is why optimizing traffic flow in cities only ever encourages greater traffic use, thereby offsetting any time/space gains offered potentially by the improved traffic system design.
  • Homeostasis is a very good pointer to the significance of counter-intuitive effects. We imagine that changing a system will produce a benefit, but actually very many such changes - especially when designed to address a perceived major problem - produce overall negative effects.

Horizontal Sector/Horizontal Market - or horizontal market sector - Often called simply a 'horizontal' - this refers to products/services which can be supplied to or 'across' a number of 'vertical' sectors , for example, office cleaning services to various industries (verticals), or transport services to different industries (verticals). See 'vertical' sectors for more detailed explanation of the matrix that is formed by horizontal and vertical markets/sectors, and especially the switchable nature of the terminology depending on situation, notably who is selling to whom.

Horizontal Integration - The joining together of businesses which produce similar goods or offer similar services, or are involved in the same stage of activities, such as production or selling.

Hot Desking - In an office, the practise of having a pool of desks, which are usually equipped with phone and computer links, so that workers can use them when they are required, rather than having their own individual desk.

Hothouse/Hothousing - Informal term for an intense development environment or method, or the verb equivalent, typically applied to training people or developing ideas or ventures; a metaphor alluding to a heated greenhouse for growing plants.

Human Resources - HR. The people who are employed by and operate a business or organisation. The department within a company which deals with recruitment, training, employee benefit, etc.

Hunt and Peck - Inexpert slow typing on a keyboard using only one or two fingers.

Hushmail - An internet service offering encypted email, file storage, etc.

Hush Money - A bribe or payment, which is often illegal, given to someone to stop them from disclosing information, usually to prevent bad publicity or to hide a crime.

Hyperbole - (Pronounced 'hy-per-bollee' - emphasis on the 'per' syllable) - Hyperbole is an extreme and figurative exaggeration or overstatement, which in strict grammatical terms is not generally expected to be taken seriously or interpreted literally, for example, "I've been waiting for ever for a bus," and yet where hyperbole is used for motivational or persuasive effect in business or politics, the technique very often intends to convey maximum impact on an audience, for example, "You'll never have another opportunity like this..." The word derives ultimately from the Greek root words: huper, over, and ballein, to throw.

Hyperinflation - An extraordinarily high rate of economic inflation during which a country's prices rise and currency loses its value uncontrollably in a vicious cycle, usually occurring during severe political instability or war. Normally inflation is measured in terms of a few percentage points increase per year - typically below 10% and sometimes approaching 20%. By contrast hyperinflation may be at a rates of tens of percentage points increase per month, and in extreme rare cases hundreds of percentage points per month. In this event, where prices can be doubling and currency values halving every few weeks (or days, in very rare situations), a country is forced to issue new banknote denominations of ludicrously high values, and within living memory news stories have featured workers collecting their wages in wheelbarrows.


Icon - a symbol or image which represents a more complex thing, such as a person, or a concept. Icon has come also to mean a role-model or leading example (i.e., symbolically representative of the best of its class). Icon also refers to computerized symbols or other small symbols which are used to convey a meaning, especially in signage and designs of electronic devices intended to be intuitive and self-explanatory in operation. Icon is from Greek, eikon, meaning likeness or image, which originally was used to refer to religious devotional paintings, notably of Christ. The word and modern meaning of icon features popularly now in the portmanteau computer/internet/phone term 'emoticon' (emotion and icon) which is a symbol for conveying mood in electronic messages.

Idea Showers - Usually called Brainstorming. A method of problem solving involving members of a group meeting and sharing ideas.

Identity Theft - A crime in which someone obtains another person's personal information, such as passport, credit card details, etc., and poses as that person in order to steal money, get benefits, make purchases, etc.

Idle Time - The time that a piece of equipment or a machine, such a as computer, is available, but is not being used.

Impeach - To charge somebody, usually a government official, with serious misconduct. To cast somebody out of public office, for example a president or courtroom judge because of a serious crime or misdemeanor.

Imperfect Market - A market in which buyers do not have access to enough information about prices and products, and where buyers or sellers can have an influence over the quantity and price of goods sold.

Import Duty - A tax charged on certain goods which are brought into a country.

Impound - To seize and hold property, funds, etc., in custody (typically by a state-empowered authority), often during legal dispute.

Incapacity Benefit - A state benefit in the UK which is paid to people below pensionable age who have made National Insurance contributions, and who are too ill or disabled to work.

Incentive Marketing - The offering of rewards or gifts to sales people as an incentive to get more orders from dealers or customers. To offer customers rewards for buying products or services.

Income Fund - An investment fund with high returns which pays the owners a regular income.

Income Tax - A tax paid by individuals to the government, the amount of which is dependent on how much a person earns from their salary and/or other sources of income.

Incubator - An organisation or company which provides support to new businesses to help them develop and grow.

Indemnify - To insure and offer financial protection against loss, damage or liability.

Independent Financial Advisor - (IFA) Someone who works independently, i.e., not for a particular company, and offers people advice about financial matters and recommends where to invest their money.

Index-Linked - Concerning salaries, pensions, investments, etc. If they are Index-Linked it means that the payments or income from these may vary according to the rate of inflation.

Indict - To formally charge someone with a crime.

Indirect Materials - In accounting, products or services, such as electricity, cleaning materials, chemicals, etc., which are used in the production of goods but are not part of the end product.

Induction - The introduction and training of a member of staff in a new job or position in a company.

Industrial Action - Also called a strike in the UK. Known in the US as Job Action. A protest by employees during which they refuse to work, usually because they want better wages and/or better working conditions.

Industrialist - A person who owns or runs a large industrial enterprise. They are often referred to as a Business Magnate.

Industrial Relations - Relations between the management and the workers, especially those in unions, in industry.

Industrial Tribunal - An independent judicial body which deals with disputes between employers and employees.

Inertia Selling/Inertia Marketing - A sales/marketing method which assumes a prospective customer's agreement or 'opt-in' to a sales proposition or contract unless the prospective customer actively refuses or 'opts-out'. Usually this sort of marketing is illegal, especially where a commercial supply of this nature is explained in 'small print', or not at all, although many organizations flout the law, which places the onus on the customer to seek redress/recovery/escape. The technique applies to privacy and personal rights, as well as purchasing and contract extensions, and especially conversion of free or low-cost trials into chargeable contracts. See nudge theory , which explains the power of inertia in decision-making, and potentially acceptable use of such techniques, for example organ donation automatic opt-in.

Inflation - Normally referring to the economy of a country, inflation is the gradual increase in the price of goods and/or services, and the consequential devaluing of the national currency. Inflation is typically up to 10%, or more unusually approaching 20% per year. Minimising inflation is normally a high priority within national fiscal policy since higher levels of inflation cause a variety of economic and business problems. See also deflation and hyperinflation.

Inflection Point - In business, when important significant changes take place in an organisation. (Andrew S. Grove - Intel)

Infographic - A portmanteau word (made from information and graphic) referring to a picture or diagram which conveys information. The term is relatively new but the concept of conveying information via graphics is very old indeed. Many prehistoric cave paintings are infographics, for example which depict hunting or record other activities. The Bayeux Tapestry is an infographic, telling the story of the 1066 Norman Conquest of England. Some infographics become very iconic, such the map of the London Undergound railway. More recently infographics feature strongly in computer media, especially on the internet, because technology enables easier design of infographics, and audiences which have grown up surrounded by visual media, increasingly seek and respond to data presented in ways that can be absorbed and understood very quickly.

Infomediary - An agent who works on behalf of a business, collecting information on, and developing profiles of, individual customers.

Infomercial - An 'information commercial' (a portmanteau word). A long television commercial (advertisement) presented in the form of a documentary or TV program. This format is used so that it does not appear to be selling a product or service.

Information Superhighway - Communications network, notably the Internet, which provides high speed access to information in the form of sound, text, images, etc.

Inheritance Tax - Also called Death Duty in the UK. Known as Death Tax in the US. A tax imposed by the government which much be paid on the total value of the estate of a deceased person.

Injunction - An official court order which demands that someone must refrain from carrying out certain actions.

Innovation - The introduction of new ideas, goods, etc., or new methods of production. A new way of doing something.

Inorganic - A term used to describe the growth of a business from mergers or takeovers, rather than from the increase in productivity or activity of the company's own business.

Inside Information - Information about a company which is known only by the owners, management and/or employees, and not the general public. The use of Inside Information for the buying and selling of shares is usually illegal.

Inside Track - An advantageous position in a company or organisation. To know about something before others get to hear about it.

Insolvency - Not having enough finances or assets available to pay all your debts.

Instant Access Account - A bank or building society account which allows you have instant access to your money without any penalties.

Insurance Adjuster - Also known as a Claims Adjuster. An independent person who investigates insurance claims for an insurance company and evaluates the damage caused and decides whether the claims are valid, and if they are, how much should be paid in settlement to the insured party.

Intangible Asset - A company's assets which do not physically exist, such as brand name, trademarks, copyrights, etc.

Intellectual Capital - The skills and knowledge of a company's employees, which can be used to make the company more successful than its competitors.

Intellectual Property - Commonly abbreviated to IP, an idea or creation, e.g., artwork, writing, etc., that belongs to an individual or organisation, which has commercial value and therefore cannot be copied or sold without the owner's permission.

Inter Alia - Latin for 'among other things' - a traditional term which typically precedes a list of examples, and is found in official or formal text or various sorts. Inter alios means 'among other people', but is much less used.

Interest Rate - A fee which is charged for borrowing money, e.g., a loan from a bank or financial institution, lease arrangement, goods bought through hire purchase, etc.

Intermediary - A mediator or agent who negotiates between two parties who are unable or unwilling to reach an agreement by themselves.

Internal Equity - In a company or organisation, ensures the pay each employee receives is determined fairly by the type of job they do.

International Monetary Fund - IMF. Established in 1944 by the United Nations to monitor foreign exchange systems and encourage trade between member nations. It also lends money to developing countries with economic problems.

International Organisation For Standardization - ISO. A non-government organisation with over 150 member nations, which promotes international standards in trade, technology, science, economy, etc.

Internesia - Relating to the Internet. Being unable to locate a particular website which you found interesting or on which you saw a useful piece of information.

Internet Cafe - Also called a Cybercafe. A public place where people can use a computer, usually for a fee, to check e-mail, access the Internet, etc. These places often sell drink and food, like a regular cafe.

Interventionism - The policy of a government to intervene and manipulate a country's (often its own) affairs and/or economy.

Intervention Price - A guaranteed minimum price set by a government for a product, usually farm produce. If the price falls below this then the government, or agency, will buy the produce at the Intervention Price.

Intestate - Without leaving a will, as used in the phrase, 'to die intestate'.

Intrapreneur - A person employed by a large company to work independently to develop new projects and business within the company.

Intrinsic Value - The actual or real value of a business, commodity, asset, etc., rather than the market value or share price.

Invention - A new device, process, product, etc., which has been created and developed by an individual or a group.

Investment - Money or capital that is invested in a business or in an account with a financial institution in order to make a profit or earn interest.

Investment Boutique - A small company which offers specialist advice about investments and business.

Invisibles - 'Invisible' services of a country, such as banking, tourism, insurance, etc, of which the buying and selling are from international trade.

Involuntary Liquidation - When a company is forced into bankruptcy by its creditors, so that its debts can be paid.

Iron Triangle - A project management term (also called the Project Management Triangle, Triple Constraint, and variations of these), the Iron Triangle refers to (according to the concept) the three main inputs and the output of most projects, namely: inputs - 1. Scope (or activities), 2. Budget/cost (or human resources), 3. Time (or timescale or completion date), and the output of Quality (or performance). The concept is commonly shown as a triangle with an input item on each corner, and 'quality' or 'performance' in the middle of the triangle. The concept asserts that none of the three corner items may be changed without an effect on the other two corner items, assuming quality/performance outcomes are to be preserved. For example where a reduction in project time (e.g., bringing forward the completion date) typically requires more budget/resource; or where a reduction in project cost/resource will generally require an increase of time (project duration). Broadening the project scope (commonly caused by 'project creep', i.e., failure to adhere to project scope/activity limits by adding new activities, diversions, opportunities, etc) tends to require additional budget/resources, or an extension of the project timescale. Typically however in many projects one of the three corner inputs is altered (usually disadvantageously), and where no adjustment is made/permitted to any other input, the outcome quality is weakened. Among other variations, the Iron Triangle concept is alternatively adapted as a 'project diamond', by which the 'quality' outcome is shown as a fourth point of a diamond, and this version of the model tends to encourage a more flexible approach to the project outcome, viewing it as a variable alongside the other three Iron Triangle inputs. It should be noted that the Iron Triangle (or Diamond) model addresses project management from a very fundamental standpoint. The success of most projects however, especially those with big workgroups, also depends on and can be greatly influenced by 'softer' less tangible inputs such as leadership, team motivation/commitment, and communications, etc., which should not be ignored, and in some situations should be considered just as seriously as the 'hard' Iron Triangle factors.

Island Position - An advertisement or commercial which is surrounded by text, or placed between TV programs, with no other advertisements, so it has no competition.

Issue Price - On the Stock Exchange, the price at which a new share, stock, etc., is offered to the public.

Information Technology - Also known as IT. The study and use of computers and communications systems.


Jasdaq - Japanese Association of Securities Dealers Automated System. Japanese securities exchange, the headquarters of which are situated in Tokyo.

Job Costing - A system of calculating the cost of each individual job or project carried out by a business, includes time, labour, materials, etc.

Job Lock - A situation in which a person feels they cannot leave their job because they are afraid of losing benefits connected to the job.

Job Protected Leave - Allows people to officially take time off from their work for a longer period without the fear of losing their job, often because of illness or pregnancy.

Job Sharing - A work schedule in which two or more people voluntary do one full-time job, sharing the work and dividing the hours between them.

Joint Consultation - An organisational decision-making
process in the UK, where managers and employees representatives, usually from unions, meet to discuss matters relating to the employees working conditions, etc.

Joint Stock Company - A company or organisation owned by joint shareholders, which is a type of corporation and partnership. The stockholders run the company and share its profits and debts.

Junk Bond - Also known as High Yield Bonds. A high risk bond with a high interest rate, often used by companies to raise finances in order to take over other companies.

Just-In-Time - JIT. A manufacturing system in which materials and components are delivered immediately before they are required, in order to increase efficiency, reduce waste and minimise storage costs.


Kaizen - Japanese for 'improvement'. When implemented in the workplace, Kaizen activities help to improve the running of a business.

Kanban - Japanese for 'visible record'. In industry, a manufacturing system which is regulated by the use of cards or boards which contain specifications and instructions for the production process of goods.

Keiretsu - In Japan, an alliance of companies or organisations which own shares in one another as a means of security, but each individual company operates independently.

Kerb Market - In the US, the buying and selling of shares in companies which are not listed on the stock exchange. In the UK, the buying and selling of stocks and shares outside official trading hours.

Kettling - Term which is used to describe the police tactic of penning protesters into an area by forming a barrier around them and refusing to let them out.

Key Account - In business, a company's main client or customer, who represents a large percentage of the company's income.

Keyword Advertising - Used on the Internet. When a user types in a particular 'keyword', an advertisement which is linked to a business relevant to that word, is displayed alongside the search engine results.

Kickback - A bribe or illegal payment made to someone in exchange for a successful referral for a job or transaction.

Kidult - An adult who enjoys films, games, TV, clothes, etc., which are deemed more suitable for children or much younger people.

Killer App - Short for Killer Application. Derives from the computer industry. A new product or service which is the first in its category and therefore dominates that particular market, creating huge returns on the initial investment.

Kitemark - In the UK, the official mark of approval by the British Standards Institution, to show that a product or service is safe, reliable and of good quality.

Knocking Copy - In advertising, the criticism or attacking of a competitor or a rival product.

Knock-Off - An unauthorised copy of a product, usually designer clothing.

Knowledge Base - In a computer system, a database with a store of information, facts and rules which can be used for problem-solving.

Knowledge Worker - Also known as an Intellectual Worker. A person who is employed by a company to use their brain and intellect to work with information, rather than performing manual tasks.

Kudos - Common management term meaning positive recognition, praise or fame - from the Greek word kydos, meaning glory.


Labour - Work, especially manual/physical work, for wages.

Labour Intensive - A job requiring a lot of work, and often a lot of workers, in comparison to the costs of materials, equipment, etc.

Labour Law - Also known as Employment Law. Legislation which defines the legal rights and obligations of employees in the workplace.

Lading - Freight or cargo carried by a large vehicle. The act of loading cargo onto a ship.

Laffer Curve - named after US economist Arther Laffer (b.1940), the Laffer Curve refers graphically to notional/optimal government revenues according to changing levels levels of taxation, on the basis that at each extreme, i.e., 0% and 100% taxation, government revenues are zero, and that somewhere in between, a certain taxation % level (for which no general standard exists or can be applied) will produce optimal government revenues. The expression was popularized in the mid-1970s after reported discussions between Laffer and government officals Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, seemingly in which Laffer sought to advance the counter-intuitive argument that lower taxation would increase tax revenues. Laffer attributed the underpinning curve concept theory to Ibn Khaldun and John Maynard Keynes.

Laicisation - The defrocking of a minister or priest. The changing to lay status.

Laid-Off - In industry, etc., when workers lose their jobs, sometimes temporarily, because there is no work for them.

Laity - Usage is typically 'the laity' ('lay-ity'), an old traditional alternative word for lay people/members, typically used in relation to church organization and council, but applicable widely to ordinary people, as distinct from professional or qualified folk.

Landing Page - On the Internet, the first page that visitors to a website arrive at after they've clicked on a link to the site.

Larceny - The crime of unlawfully taking someone else's property or money. Theft.

Large Cap - On the Stock Exchange, a company that has a large market capitalisation, i.e., a high total value of shares.

Law Of One Price - The rule that without trade barriers and transportations costs, identical products would cost the same worldwide using the appropriate exchange rate of currency.

Lay (people/person/member) - Also layman, or laywoman - Lay means non-professional, non-expert - ordinary member(s), of the public or of an organization, typically referring to religious communities, often relating to professions such as law and medicine, but potentially in any situation where non-professionals/experts are differentiated from qualified/professionals. The term may have an arrogant or patronising implication where expert, qualified, learned professionals discuss the general public or members who lack expertise.

Layaway - Often referred to as Lay-By. A means of purchasing an item by paying a small deposit to reserve it and then paying the balance in installments. When the total purchase price has been paid the customer can then take delivery of the goods.

Leader - Someone who leads, sets example, inspires, motivates, etc - technically having the personal qualities which attract followers for given situations. See the leadership theory section for lots more definitions and explanations, including differences between leadership and management. And see the leadership tips page for a more general guide to modern ethical progressive leadership.

Leadership - A person or number of people responsible for leading a team or group of people, usually in some sort of organized body or company, or the direction of a smaller team in a specific project or situation. See the leadership theory section for clarifications of leadership and the many theories which seek to explain and teach it. And see the leadership tips page for a more general guide to modern ethical progressive leadership.

Leading Indicator - A particular measure of a country's economic activity, used to predict near future economic trends.

Lead User - Term introduced by economist Eric von Hippel in 1986. Lead users are individuals or companies who greatly benefit from being the first to use or adapt a product for a particular need, often months or years before the general public or other businesses are aware of the need for the product.

Lean - Also known as the Toyota Production System or Just-In-Time Production. A system used in management, production, manufacturing, etc., to decrease waste and increase efficiency, especially with the use of automated assembly lines in the motor industry.

Learning Curve - A graph depicting the rate at which a person learns a new skill. A steep learning curve shows that a person is learning quickly, and a shallow learning curve means that a person is slower and taking more time to learn.

Leaseback - An arrangement between a purchaser of a property and the vendor in which the vendor immediately leases the property back from the purchaser.

Leave Of Absence - The period of time which a person is permitted by their employer to be absent from their job.

Lease Purchase - A finance agreement in which an item, usually a car, is leased for a certain period of time with an option to purchase at the end of the contract.

Legal Aid - Legal assistance provided , usually by the state, for people or organisations who cannot afford to pay for solicitors or legal advice.

Legalese - An informal term for technical legal language, especially in documents intended for public/consumer readership, such as house conveyancing contracts, insurance policies, financial documents, especially loan arrangements, all sorts of terms and conditions, employment contracts, and general 'small print' in contracts. A cynical view asserts that much legalese is wholly intentional by the document writers, who are typically lawers and solictors, so as to dissuade customers/users from reading and understanding contractual details which may commonly be disavantageous or even highly onerous or potentially damaging. Incidentally, many contracts are produced entirely in upper case (capital letters), supposedly for emphasis, although in many cases this intends to worsen readability and accessibility still further.

Legal Entity - An individual or organisation who has the legal right to enter into a contract or an agreement, is responsuble for its actions, and can sue or be sued if the terms of the contract are broken.

Legal Reserve - The minimum amount of money, required by law, that a bank, insurance company, etc., must set aside in order to be able to operate.

Legal Tender - In day-to-day language the term generally refers to coinage or banknotes which have not been withdrawn or demonetised by the Bank of England and so are valid, but technically the term the UK refers to forms of currency which by law must be accepted by a creditor in payment of a debt. See the detailed technical definition of legal tender .

Lemon - A defective product which is poor quality and fails to function as promised. Particularly used in the automotive industry, specifically for a poor-quality second-hand car, or a sub-standard new vehicle.

Lender Of Last Resort - A country's central bank which loans money to other banks or financial institutions which cannot borrow money from anywhere else and do not have enough reserves to cover cash withdrawals by their customers.

Letter Of Comfort - A letter of approval written to a bank by a parent company on behalf of a subsidiary company which needs financial backing.

Letter Of Indemnity - A document in which an individual, company, etc., guarantees to protect another from costs, liability, etc., as a result of certain actions which may be carried out.

Liabilities - Debts which are owed to someone, obligations or responsibilities which are legally binding.

Libertarian/Libertine - A person who believes in the freedom of speech and thought, and that people should be able to do whatever - within reason - they wish with minimal interference from government. The words derive from the Latin root liber, meaning free, like the word liberty, meaning freedom.

Lien - A legal right to take and keep another persons property until a debt has been paid by the property owner.

(in) Lieu - The word lieu rarely appears outside of the expression 'in lieu of', which means 'instead of', or 'in place of'. For example, 'time off in lieu' means (and is a shortening of) time given off work instead of payment for extra hours worked. The word lieu is from French, 'lieu' and earlier 'leu', place, which came into English in the 1500s, originally from Latin locum/locus, place.

Lifeboat - An emergency loan offered to a company or bank which is in financial trouble.

Lifestyle Business - A business set up and run so as to fit with the wider life needs of the business owner(s) which might be called 'life balance', or happiness or wellbeing . Typically this will mean that the business can be established and operated with very simple, relatively small-scale, and easily manageable: infrastructure, overheads, inbound supply-chain (if any), premises (typically in a home), legal issues, administration products/services range, ambition, marketing and advertising, technology and ICT, staffing, and demands on workload, time, and generally work pressures. Given these criteria, certain types of businesses do not make naturally good lifestyle businesses, because they imply/require a more burdensome degree for one or a number of the features listed above. Businesses that do not naturally make good lifestyle businesses would be for example: manufacturing (other than boutique or 'hand-made' type products); warehousing and distribution; FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods - see FMCG in the acronyms page)

Life Tables - Also called Mortality Tables. Tables which show peoples life expectancy, depending on their age, lifestyle, etc., often used by insurance companies.

Lightning Strike - A sudden strike by workers, with little or no warning. These strikes are often short in duration and usually without official union backing.

Limited Company - In the UK, a company that has a name ending in 'Ltd.' The owners of these companies have limited liability if the company gets into debt.

Limited Liability - In law, the owners and/or shareholders of a limited company only lose the amount they have invested if the company gets into debt.

Linchpin - The most important person or thing in a business or organisation.

Line Authority - In business, the power given to management allowing them to give orders and to control subordinates.

Liquidate - The closing down of a business by selling its assets to pay its debts.

Liquidated Damages - The fixed amount agreed upon by parties to a contract, to be paid to one party in the case of a breach of contract by the other party.

List Price - Known as 'Sticker Price' in the US. The advertised or recommended retail price (RRP) of a product.

List Rental - The renting, from an organisation, of a mailing list which has potential customer names and addresses, for a one-off mailing.

Litigant - A person or party who is involved in a court action or lawsuit.

Litigate - To legally settle a dispute in, or take a claim to, a court of law.

Litigious - To routinely or enthusiastically take legal action to settle disputes.

Litotes - A language term referring to understatement, used for emphasis, often ironically, in which the negative-opposite is used instead of the positive expression, for example, "It wasn't the best presentation I've ever given," when the speaker means that they considered it to have been a particularly poor one. Another example is the commonly used "Not bad," or "Not half Bad," when referring to something very good. The word litotes comes from Greek, litos, meaning single, simple or meagre.

Living Trust - A trust created in which assets can be transferred to someone while the grantor (the person who owns the assets) is still alive. Living Trusts avoid dealing with the legalities of a will.

Loan Shark - Someone who offers unsecured loans at excessive rates of interest.

Local Content Measure - Where a business or investor is required to purchase a certain amount of locally sourced materials to be used in the manufacturing, etc., of their product.

Lockout - A term used during an industrial dispute, when management closes down a workplace and bars employees from entering until they agree to certain terms and conditions.

Locus Standi - (Latin - place of standing) The right or capacity of a litigant to be heard or to bring an action in court.

Long Grass - To 'Kick something into the long grass' means to push a problem aside in the hope that it will be ignored or forgotten.

Long Position - A situation in which an investor or dealer holds onto shares, etc., which they have purchased, expecting them to rise in value in the future.

Long Term Liability - Taxes, leases, loans, etc., which are payable over a period greater than one year.

Loophole - An unintentional mistake in a contract or a law which allows people to evade an obligation in the contract, or to get round the law without actually breaking it.

Looping - In films, TV programs, etc., the process of dubbing the original film footage by synching (lining it up) with new or replacement dialogue.

Loss Leader - In retail, a product which is offered at a very low price to attract customers who will then buy other goods which will produce more profit for the retailer.

Low Hanging Fruit - A term used in business for something which is easily obtainable and highly visible, and provides a quick easy way to making a profit.

Low Yield - A term used to describe investments which are low risk and do not produce a high level of income.

Loyalty Card - A card given to customers by a retailer which gives the customer points, etc., every time they shop there. These points convert into vouchers which the customer can spend at the store at a later date.

Luddite - A derogatory term for someone who opposes or disapproves of new technology and/or new methods of working, often because the changes threaten jobs. From the Luddite rioters of 1811-16, who in defence of labourers' jobs in early industrial Britain wrecked new manufacturing machinery. See Luddite in the words origins page.


Machine Code - Also known as Machine Language. A computer language, which consists only of numbers, that can be read and interpreted by a computer's central processing unit (CPU).

Macro - In a computer, a single instruction which results in a complete series of more detailed instructions being put into effect.

Magic bullet - A simple effective solution to a serious or complex problem, especially in medicine, for example a cure for a disease. The simplicity is for users, not necessarily for the developers. See also Silver Bullet, basically the same meaning.

Magalog - A catalogue which appears to be a magazine, used for marketing purposes.

Magnetic Media - Disks and tapes which are used to record and store computer data.

Mail Merge - The process of automatically personalising a customised letter or document by using a list of individual names and addresses, so the same letter can be sent to many people.

Mail Order - The purchasing or selling of goods over the Internet, telephone, from catalogues, etc., which are delivered to the customer by mail.

Mainframe - Also known as 'Big Iron'. A large powerful central computer to which a network of smaller computers are connected, used commonly by large organisations.

Mainstream - A term applied to activities, ideas, products/services, etc., that are used/followed/supported by most people. Mainstream basically means 'commonly used by people'. Mainstream as a marketing term is the opposite to 'niche' or specialised. Interestingly while 'mainstream' seems like a relatively modern word, it's actually existed in this sense since about 1830.

Majority Interest - Owning more than 50% of the total shares in a company, and therefore more than 50% of the voting interest.

Makegood - In advertising, a free advertising slot given to a company by a TV station, magazine, etc., if the company's advert was previously run incorrectly.

Make To Stock - In manufacturing, products which are made and stocked before customers orders have been received.

Maladministration - In business or government, the act of incompetence or running a system in a dishonest way.

Managed Economy - An economy in which goods, allocation of resources and prices are determined by the government.

Managed Hosting - A type of Internet hosting in which the hosting supplier deals with technical issues and problems related to the website, in addition to the basic hosting of the website.

Management Buy-In - When a management team from outside a company acquires more than 50% of the company, so they become the majority shareholders, and then manage the company themselves.

Management Buy-Out - MBO. The purchase of all or part of a company by the company's existing managers.

Management By Exception - A management style in which managers give employees the authority to run projects, etc., by themselves and managers only become involved if the employees fail to meet certain criteria or standards.

Manager - A person who is in charge of a project, department, group, team, etc.

Mandatory Convertible Bond - Bonds that must be redeemed in shares by the company which issues them, usually by a specified date.

Mandate - Technically a legal or official document giving an order or instruction. More loosely it refers to a permission or approval. In politics or democratic situations such as trade unions it refers to an authorisation for leadership to act based on election or vote. Derived from Latin mandatum meaning 'something commanded', from manus (hand) and dare (give). Mandate is also a verb, meaning to empower someone to take action.

Margin - The difference in the price of producing a product and the price it sells for, calculated as a percentage, i.e., profit margin.

Margin Account - An account held by an investor with a broker in which the broker lends the investor money to purchase shares, etc., which are then used as collateral against the loan.

Marginal Productivity - The additional output of a product, etc., which is produced as a result of adding one unit of a resource, for example labour input, in the production process.

Margin Call - A demand by a broker for an investor to bring his margin account up to the minimum level required by depositing additional money, shares, securities, etc.

Market - The commercial activity of buying and selling goods and services. The customers who buy goods and services.

Market Basket - A way of measuring the cost of living. A collection of products or services which consumers buy on a regular basis, and the prices which are paid for them.

Market Clearing Price - The price of a product or service at which the level of demand equals the level of supply.

Market Control - A situation in which the quantity and/or price of goods or services is influenced by buyers or sellers.

Market Economy - A situation in which businesses operate in a free market, i.e., they are in competition with each other and are not under government control.

Market Forces - Influences, such as the availability of raw materials for the production of goods, or customer numbers, which affect supply, demand and prices of products and services.

Marketing - The promotion and/or selling of a company, product, service, etc.

Marketing Mix - A set of marketing tools used by a company to sell its products and/or services to a target market.

Marketing Myopia - When a business is being shortsighted regarding the needs of its customers, only focusing on its products or short range goals and missing marketing opportunities.

Market Leader - A company or brand which has the highest sales of a particular product. A best-selling product.

Market Orientation - A business strategy whereby a company focuses on meeting the customers needs and wants regarding products and services.

Market Penetration Price - A low price at which a new product is offered when it first comes onto the market, in order to attract customers, after which the price is usually increased.

Market Research - The process of gathering and analysing information about customers, competitors, etc., in order to make decisions and solve problems connected with selling products or services.

Market Sector - Competing businesses which produce or buy similar goods and/or services. The customers for which certain goods and services are marketed.

Market Test - The testing of a product or service in several areas of the country to see if customers will like it and want to buy it.

Market-To-Market - The process of valuing a security, share, etc., on a daily basis to assess its current price, rather than its acquisition price or book value.

Market Segment - A subgroup within a larger market in which people share certain characteristics and require similar products or services.

Market Segmentation - The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their purchasing behaviour.

Mark-up - The amount a producer, retailer, etc., puts on the price of the goods or services they are selling in order to make a profit. To raise the price of an item which is for sale.

Marque - A brand name or model of a well-known manufactured product, especially an expensive car.

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs - Developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. A fundamental motivational theory describing five stages of human needs which must be met in a particular order.

Mass Market - Describes products or services which have mass appeal and are aimed at large numbers of people or a whole population.

Mass Marketing - Marketing a product or service to the general public through the mass media, for example, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.

Master Franchise - Allows companies or individuals the right to purchase a sub-franchise business which can be developed in a particular area or country.

Material Requirements Planning - (MRP) The use of computer software to plan and manage a production process, for example the amount of materials or parts required, calculation of workload, delivery schedules, etc.

Maternity Leave - The time a pregnant employee is entitled to take off from her job before and after the birth of her baby. Entitlement to Maternity Leave depends on how long the woman has been with her employer.

Maternity Pay - An employee benefit paid to pregnant women when they take time off from their job to have their baby. Entitlement to Maternity Pay depends on how long they have worked for their employer and varies from country to country.

Mates Rates - To sell a product or service to a friend or family member at a discounted or reduced rate on the normal price.

Matrix Management - Also known as Dotted Line Responsibility. A system of management in which people from different departments in an organisation work together, so that each individual employee has two bosses, one functional and one operational. This is common in project management.

Maven - An expert, often self-proclaimed, in a particular field.

Maverick - An independent thinker who does not conform to accepted opinion on certain matters and takes a stand from other people.

Mediagenic - A tendency (for a person or activity, etc) to convey a favourable impression when reported by the media.

Meltdown - A situation in which something, or someone, suddenly dramatically ceases to function properly.

Meme - Originally a biological term referring to a behavioural characteristic which transfers non-genetically between people, meme increasingly refers more widely to other non-human characterstics or examples which arise as imitations of or variations on a particular theme.

Memo - Usually used for communication within an organisation. Memos can be formal letters or informal notes to colleagues.

Memorandum and Articles Of Association - a legal document drawn up when a company is formed containing details such as company name, type, objectives, and number and value of shares, etc.

Memorandum Of Understanding - MOU. A, sometimes informal written agreement between two or more parties which establishes each party's responsibilities and requirements.

Menial (work, job, task) - Unskilled typically poorly paid work.

Mentor - Someone who is experienced and gives guidance and support to a person less experienced to help them develop and grow and achieve their goals.

Menu Bar - On a computer screen, the strip at the top of each open window that contains pull down menus with functions, for example file, edit, etc.

Mercantile - Relating to trade or commerce.

Merchandising - The practice of promoting and selling goods. Commercial products which are associated with a film, pop group, TV show, celebrity, etc., such as toys, clothing, food products, household items, etc.

Merchant Bank - Known in the US as an Investment Bank. A financial institution which offers financial advice and services to large businesses and wealthy individuals.

Merge-Purge - The process of combining two or more lists or files of names and addresses etc., typically databases, and removing duplicated and/or unwanted items, to produce one new clean list or database.

Merger - The joining of two or more companies, organisations etc.

Meritocracy - In business, a system in which people advance because of their abilities rather than their connections or wealth, etc.

Merlin - TV/Movie term for a visual mistake in a film or TV show, derived from the accidental inclusion of a beer can in a TV drama scene featuring Merlin, in the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Mesne Profits - Compensation or penalty charges instead of, or 'in lieu' of, rent claimed by a landlord against a person illegally occupying land or property and subsequently evicted, commonly arising from a court order.

Meta/Metatags/Metadata - Meta means an additional useful part of the whole thing, usually data or communication of some sort, and usually hidden or underlying and coded. The original sense is from the Greek word meta, loosely meaning 'with' and arises now commonly as a prefix in computing and communications terminology, for example referring to meta tags (increasingly 'metatags') within website or computer code, which are typically hidden in normal use but which carry useful or vital information about the material or functionality concerned - specifically useful for computerised automated functions and analysis, data search, retrieval, organization and display, etc. The similar term meta data (increasingly 'metadata') refers more generally to information or code which is usually hidden in normal use or communications but which carries important meaning towards understanding or using the whole message or instruction, or other form of data.

Mezzanine Finance - A high interest, usually unsecured, loan in which the lender often has the right to obtain shares in the business which has acquired the loan. Sometimes used in management buy-outs.

Microblogging - A type of blogging allowing users to post or broadcast pictures and/or short messages or articles typically in the range of 140-200 characters.

Microcap - In the US, small companies on the stock exchange that have shares which are very low in total value.

Microcredit - The loaning of very small sums of money to entrepreneurs, especially in the developing world, typically enabling the start-up of small business activities, especially social enterprise. See small business start-ups .

Microeconomics - A branch of economics which studies individual parts of the economy, such as households, industries and businesses, and how they make decisions about spending money, use of goods and services, etc.

Microsite - A small separate part of a larger website which is designed to be used for a particular purpose, e.g., advertising or selling. Often co-branded or 'white label', i.e., run by a larger website organisation for a smaller website acting as an agent or affiliate.

Middleman - A person who arranges business or political deals between people, usually for a commission or fee, or, more generally, any person or company buying goods from a supplier and selling them to customers, usually at a profit.

Middle Management - In organisations and business, managers who are in charge of small departments and groups of people while reporting to upper management.

Midsession - On the stock exchange, the middle period of trading during the day, usually around noon.

Milk Round - In the UK, a term used when large companies visit universities each year to advertise job opportunities to students.

Mindshare - In advertising, the development of consumer awareness of a product or brand.

Minimax Strategy - In Game Theory and strategy generally, a method which seeks to minimise the maximum potential losses, which usually equates to 'playing safe'.

Minimum Wage - The legal lowest wage an employee can be paid by an employer.

Minister without portfolio - A government minister who has not been appointed to any specific department, and who has no specific departmental responsibilities. Also refers metaphorically to an executive or director or manager in an organization who has authority and rank but no responsibility for specific activity.

Minion - A low-ranking loyal and often favoured servant or worker.

Mirror Site - On the Internet, an exact copy of a popular website. This is done so that some of the traffic can be diverted from the original website to the Mirror Site when the original site becomes very busy. Alternatively a copy website whose purpose is to attract and direct additional visitors towards the original site, regarded as unacceptable SEO (search engine optimisation) or 'cheating' by most search engines.

Misery Index - Created by economist Arthur Okun, an economic indicator of a country which adds the inflation rate to the unemployment rate.

Mission Creep - Originally applied to military operations, a gradual expansion of a project that goes beyond original aims, so things turn out differently than planned, often resulting in undesirable consequences.

Mission Statement - A brief statement which sets out the activities and objectives of a company or organisation.

Mitigate - To make something less severe or dangerous, e.g., using 'Mitigating Circumstances' as an excuse to try to make an offence seem less serious than it appears.

Mixed Economy - A country's economic system which has both private and state owned enterprises in operation.

Mnemonic - A technique or mechanism, popularly called a 'memory-aid', for helping to remember something (a rule, process, concept, theory, etc., or simply a job to do or mental note). Examples of types of mnemonics are acronyms (including 'bacronyms' ) stories , quotes and rhymes. A knotted handkerchief is a traditional and iconic mnemonic (because it served to remind the owner that he/she should remember something, although amusingly gives no clue as to what exactly should be remembered). The phrase 'Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain' is a mnemonic for the colours/colors of the rainbow in order, matching the first letters to Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet. The word is pronounced 'nemonic' and is commonly misspelled ('numonic'). It's from Greek mnemon, mindful. The study of the development and assistance of memory is called mnemonics or mnemotechnics. Most mnemonic devices operate by association, i.e., by linking the thing to be recalled (which is typically lacking in memorability or pattern or imagery) with something such as an acronym, phrase or rhyme (which ideally contain strong memorability, pattern, imagery, etc) and which correlates or matches the key words in some way. Some mnemonics can become very deeply embedded into the brain, especially those which are learned in formative childhood years, so that they can be recalled effortlessly after several decades of not being used.

Mob - A crowd of people - usually unruly and agitated. Mob is actually a shortened version of the full Latin phrase, mobile vulgus, meaning excitable crowd. The term was abbreviated in English first as 'mobile', in the 1600s. In more recent times the meaning of mob has become much wider - notably slang for gangsters (hence 'mobsters'), and in modern times to expressions such as 'flash mob' , whose full technical meaning (aside from its earliest underworld meaning) is a secretly planned, surprising and quickly-formed excitable crowd.

Modem - From MO dulate and DEM odulate. An electronic device which is used to connect computer systems using a telephone line for transmitting data.

Moderator - An arbitrator or mediator. Someone who presides over a debate. On the Internet - a person who presides over a website forum to make sure that rules and guidelines are adhered to.

Mogul - Also called a tycoon. A very rich, powerful business person.

Mojo - Magical or special power, referring to a charismatic person, or a product with unusually seductive qualities. Such people can be said to have their 'mojo working', an expression popularised by blues singer Muddy Waters in his 1957 hit song 'Got My Mojo Working'.

Mom-and-Pop/Mom-and-Pop Shop - Chiefly and originally an American term for a small shop or business (e.g., Mom-and-Pop Business) that traditionally was and frequently nowadays still is run by a married couple, who are often the main staff too. These small businesses are characterized typically as being small in economic terms, and usually old-fashioned, slow to adapt, resistant to change and new technology, ideas, etc., with little or no ambition to grow. As such, marketing executives, managers and sales people of much larger organizations tend to regard 'mum-and-pop' businesses with a degree of disdain. While plentiful in numbers across many sectors and therefore overall accounting for potentially big market shares, mom-and-pop businesses are extremely difficult to profile, assess, and target in sales and marketing, which combined with a reputation for stubbornness (based often on mom and pop having very good knowledge and experience of their own industries), makes them very challenging for suppliers to reach, engage in dialogue, and to convert to new products and services. Small order values and high maintenance expectations commonly associated with mom-and-pop businesses add to the difficulties faced by corporations attempting to sell and serve them. Many mom-and-pop shops/businesses might in more modern times also be described as 'lifestyle businesses' , where the owners quite intentionally maintain a small simple and easily manageable scale of operation, so as to fit with a happier work-life balance. Some suggest this adds to the (arguably envy-driven) resentment which can be felt and displayed by large corporations and staff trying to market to mom-and-pop shops.

Mondeo Man - A derogatory term used to describe the average British man, who is depicted as boring, living in a semi-detached house in Kent with a wife and two children. Also used to describe travelling salesmen, a large number of who drive Mondeo cars.

Monetary Base - Also known as Narrow Money in the UK. The total amount of a country's currency which is in circulation, for example, coins, notes, etc. - held by individuals and in bank deposits.

Money At Call - A loan or debt which must be paid upon demand.

Money Spinner - A product or project that generates a lot of earnings.

Monopoly - A situation in which one company or organisation has complete control of all, or nearly all, of the market for a particular type of product or service.

Monopsony - Also known as Buyers Monopoly, a market in which there is only one customer for a product or service being sold by several sellers.

MOOC - Acronym for 'Massive Open Online Course' - conceivably the future of most higher/further education globally - see MOOC on the acronyms page.

Moore's Law - Founder of Intel Gordon Moore's theory that the power of computing has the potential to double every two years (often quoted as every 18 months).

Moral Hazard - The situation in businesses and organisations when people are protected, e.g. by insurance cover, so they are more likely to take risks.

Mortgage - A loan acquired from a bank, building society, etc., with which to buy property or land, usually to be paid back with interest over a specified number of years at regular monthly intervals. To borrow money from a bank, etc., using your property as collateral, giving the lender the right to own your property if the loan is not repaid.

Mothball - In business, to stop using a piece of equipment or building, etc., for a period of time, but keep it in good condition for when work can resume.

Motherboard - Also known as the Logic Board. The main circuit board of a computer which has all the components to make everything in the computer work together, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD drive, etc.

Motivational Research - A type of market research used to investigate the reasons why people buy specific products or brands.

Mountweazel - A fictitious entry in a reference source or listing, traditionally an act of mischief, but also used to catch copyright cheats or those who obtain and use a database without a licence or a fee. Logically mountweazel entries are removed from legitimate authorized versions. Mountweazel is supposedly named after a false entry Lillian Virginia Mountweazel in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia. Also called a nihilartikel, from the Latin nihil meaning nothing, and the German word artikel. A fictitious 'trap street' is the equivalent used to combat map copyright theft. (NB This is entry is not a mountweazel, probably..)

Mouse Potato - Amusing modern slang term for a person who sits for long periods in front of a computer, especially using the internet, instead of engaging in more active and dynamic pursuits. Mouse Potato is a clever adaptation of the older 1970s slang 'couch potato', referring to a person who spends too much time sat watching TV, eating and drinking too. Both terms originated in the USA, although these lifestyles are certainly not restricted to the USA.

Multilateral - Involving or agreed upon by three or more groups, nations, companies, etc. See Bilateral and Unilateral .

Multinational Corporation - MNC. Also known as Transnational Corporation. A company which operates in several countries outside the country in which it is based.

Murphy's Law - Humorous saying: Anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong.

Mutual Company - A type of organisation, business, etc., which is owned by members and has no shareholders. The members usually have a share of the profits.

Mulct - A fine or financial penalty, or the verb form, to cheat or swindle someone out of money or penalize someone by imposing a fine, from the Latin word multare, to fine.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator - (MBTI) A psychometric questionnaire or personality test in which people answer questions about themselves, which helps identify strengths and personal behavioural/behavioral preferences. See personality styles and models .

Mystery Shopper - A person hired by market research companies or manufacturers, etc., to visit or telephone shops or service providers anonymously in order to assess the quality of goods, helpfulness of staff, layout of premises, etc.


Nagware - Also known as Begware. Computer shareware that periodically displays messages on your computer screen prompting you to register for a product and/or pay a fee.

Naked Debenture - Also known as Uncovered Debenture. A company's loan or debt which is not backed by any security, i.e., the company's assets.

Narrow Money - Also called M1. A country's money supply which can be exchanged, for example coins, bank notes, bank cheques, travellers cheques, etc.

National Brand - A brand or product which is available nationwide rather than a local brand which is available in only one area of the country.

National Debt - The total amount of money owed by a nation's government.

National Insurance - (NI) In the UK, contributions made to the government by employers and employees which provide payments to the sick, retired and unemployed.

Nationalise/Nationalize - (UK/US English spellings) To convert a business or industry from private ownership to government control and ownership.

Natural Wastage - In business, the process of reducing the number of employees by not replacing those who have left their jobs, rather than by redundancy or dismissal.

Non-Departmental Public Body - Also known as Quangos ( Qu asi- A utonomous N on- G overnmental O rganisations) In the UK, organisations which are not government departments but are accountable to Parliament and are financed by the government to deal with public matters, e.g., Health Trusts.

Negative Certificate Of Origin - A document which states that goods, or any part of the goods, were not produced in a country from which the buyer refuses to accept goods or produce.

Negative Equity - A term commonly used in the property market during a recession when a property is worth less in value than the outstanding balance of the loan with which it was purchased. This usually only affects the borrower if they need to sell the property during this time.

Negative Growth - A term used to describe a recession. The opposite of economic growth.

Negative Inventory - A situation where a mistake in the ordering system or transactions of a business shows the stock to be less than zero. Sometimes this is done deliberately to reduce costs.

Negotiating Table - Describes formal discussions where agreements are trying to be reached.

Neologism - A word or expression which has been newly invented but is not yet in common use, or an old word which has a new meaning. There are a few in this very dictionary listing.

Nepotism - In business and organizations, nepotism refers to those in power showing favouritism towards friends and family, for example by giving them jobs because of their relationship rather than their abilities. The word came into English from French in the mid-1600s and originally derives from the Italian nipote, nephew, and the tradition of giving privileges to the 'nephews' of popes, who were typically actually illigitimate sons. Nepotism is a common source of conflict of interest .

Nest Egg - A sum of money which someone has saved for the future.

Net Assets - The total assets of a company or individual minus all liabilities (debts).

Net-Centric - Activities, communities, services, information, etc., interconnected by the Internet.

Netiquette - A set of informal rules and regulations that govern Internet etiquette, i.e., the acceptable behaviour of people on the World Wide Web.

Net Lending - The total amount of funds lent by a bank or building society over a certain period, minus any repayments made by borrowers.

Net Price - The price payable for goods or services after any deductions, discounts, etc., have been taken off.

Net Profit Margin - Usually expressed as a percentage, in business, the money earned after costs, expenses, taxes, etc., have been deducted.

Networker - A person who meets and builds relationships with other people in order to make business or social contacts.

Net Yield - The profit from an investment after taxes, costs and all other expenses have been deducted.

Newbie - A newcomer or novice at something, especially on the Internet.

New Issue - On the Stock Market, a share or bond which is offered to the public for the first time.

Next-Generation - Term used to describe a product or technology which has been improved or upgraded so that the newest version is much more advanced than previous versions.

Niche Market - A specialised market in which a specific product is sold to a particular type or group of customers. A product or service for which there is sometimes little demand and often little or no competition.

Nielsen Rating - In the US, a system which measures TV audiences, i.e., which programmes are watched by which type of person. Companies use this information to decide when to advertise their products, and TV companies use this information to set prices for advertisement slots.

NIH Syndrome - Not Invented Here. A term used for companies who reject ideas or products which are not theirs because they originated from outside the company.

Nikkei Index - A share price index for the 225 stocks traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan.

No-Load Fund - A fund which does not impose a sales or commission fee on the investor for the buying and selling of stocks and shares.

Nominal Damages - A very small sum of money awarded by a court to the plaintiff when no real damage or harm was caused by the defendant, who has to pay the damages, usually $1 or £2.

Non-Callable - Also known as Bulletbond. A bond or stock which cannot be redeemed by the issuer before a particular date or until maturity.

Non-Compliance - Failure or refusal to obey or comply with a rule, regulation or standard, which can commonly result in serious action by an inspector or ombudsman.

Non-Disclosure - A signed formal agreement in which one party agrees to keep certain information secret. Often used in business when products or projects are being developed.

Non-Executive - In business, a member of a board of directors or a consultant who is not an employee of a company but who gives independent advice.

Non-Executive Director - Also called Outside Director. A person who is an independent member of a company's board of directors, i.e., they are not an employee of the company and are therefore not responsible for the day to day operations of the company but monitor the activities of the full time executives.

Nonfeasance - Failure to perform a duty or carry out an act when under legal obligation.

Non-pc - Language or an action which is considered not to be politically correct , i.e., potentially offensive, especially to a minority group of some sort.

Non-Recourse Debt - A type of loan or debt in which the borrower is not personally liable to the lender. If the borrower fails to make repayments the lender can only take back what was bought with the loan and none of the borrowers other assets.

Non Sequitur - in communications/debate, logic, and notably the law, non sequitur basically refers to a conclusion which is false or unsupported by its argument. In literature or comedy non sequitur refers more specifically to a statement which does not relate to what precedes it in a bizarre and often amusing way - a funny example of non sequitur humour/humor is Monty Python's Holy Grail 'Burn the witch' sketch in which a series of non sequitur conclusions are used: (paraphrased) "...You burn witches; wood also burns; so witches are made of wood. Wood floats; a duck also floats; so a witch weighs the same as a duck..." In politics we frequently hear non sequitur arguments and justifications routinely used by politicians and disguised to seem like logical rational reason, when in fact the argument/justification completely fails to support the conclusion, and bluff with force/confidence/arrogance of delivery is effectively the most persuasive factor.

Non-Tariff Barrier - (NTB) A type of non-tax trade restriction on imported goods which is used to make it difficult for certain goods to be taken into a country.

Nosedive - A sudden drop or plunge in prices, values, etc.

Notary - A person, usually a solicitor, officially authorised to witness signatures and certify legal documents.

Notebook - A very small portable computer.

Not Enough Bandwidth - Term which is used when there are not enough people and/or enough time to get a job done.

Notice Of Deficiency - In the US, an official document sent to a taxpayer which shows that they owe more tax than has been declared on their tax form.

Notice Period - The period of time during which an employee must work between resigning from and leaving their place of work.

No-Win No-Fee - Conditional Fee Agreement. An agreement with your solicitor in which you don't have to pay their fee if your court case is not successful.

Not-Spot - An area of poor or lack of coverage in cellphone service or similar communications technology.

Nudge Theory - a modern concept and 'instrument' of social influence, used by governments, state organizations and commercial corporations, chiefly attributed to US professor of economics/behavioral science Richard Thaler, popularized by the 2008 book 'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness', by R Thaler and Cass R Sunstein. Nudge theory , or simply 'Nudge', employs principles/techniques of suggestion, positive accentuation, situational/environmental adjustment, support, reward, etc., in altering behaviour/behavior of social groups, populations, audiences, etc. Methods are based on the careful design of communication and relationship between the influencer and the target group, often applied with great subtlety and sophistication. Many of the tactics are hardly noticeable, and target groups will commonly not perceive remotely that their actions and attitudes have been influenced at all. The sense is one of achieving a big beneficial/advantageouos change by exerting often a tiny but crucial influence at a crucial point in the decision-making process, or at a pivotal stage, so as to produce a major change-effect. Nudge theory is to an extent counter-intuitive because it seeks to achieve influence more effectively than traditional strategies involving forceful instruction, threat, legal action or other enforcement. Simple examples of Nudge theory methods:

  • Breaking a challenging process down into easier-to-achieve smaller steps.
  • Re-wording an official application form so that it is easier to read.

More complex examples are:

  • Organizing of road-sweeping and other litter-cleaning/chewing-gum removal at highly visible times, to maximize public awareness of litter problems/effects, thereby reducing littering.
  • Offering loft-clearance services to enable and increase acceptance/uptake of loft-insulation improvements.

Both examples encourage potentially large behavioural shifts towards a specific challenging aim by using a related indirect stimulus of a less challenging, appealing, or non-threatening nature. Freedom of choice and absence of pressure are two important aspects of nudge theory. So is ethical purpose/philosophy. Nudge principles were also originally based firmly on being ethical and helping people, rather than exploiting them. Essentially nudge theory works because it provides easier ways for people to make and implement change decisions. It's achieved through 'choice design' rather than direct enforcement/compulsion. See Nudge theory .

Number Cruncher - An accountant or person who's job is working with numbers, and who is able to do large calculations. A computer which can perform complex calculations in a short time.

Numbered Account - Often called a Swiss Bank Account. An account, offered by certain banks, which can only be identified by a number, so the account holder is known only to a restricted number of the bank's employees.

NVQ - N ational V ocational Q ualification. In the UK, a qualification with no age limits, that does not have to be completed in a specified time, which reflects the skills and knowledge required to perform a particular job competently.


Objects Clause - A section in a company's Memorandum Of Association which sets out the objectives of the company.

Obsolescence - The state of becoming obsolete or out of date. Old-fashioned.

Occam's Razor/Ockham's Razor - a guiding principle or maxim for theorists, writers, communicators, etc., which asserts that the most effective (and arguably most reliable) explanations and theories employ minimal assumptions. In other words, in choosing between competing theories or explanations for uncertain things, the most reliable theory will be that which entails the least use of assumptions and other unknowns. More generally the term is used in reminding/guiding us of a need for prudence, economy and simplicity in describing, justifying, or explaining ideas and concepts, etc. The 'razor' term seems first named and recorded by Sir William Hamilton in 1852, after the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar Father William of Ockham (c.1285-1349), who was a notable early advocate of the principle. Philosophers and scientists throughout history (including Einstein, Russell, Newton) have described similar and basically supportive versions of the Occam's Razor principle, moreover many great thinkers have also demonstrably put the principle into practice in their own work, from which we can derive a reasonable degree of confidence in the validity of the concept itself. It's a very memorable and teachable idea - the theme itself, its Ockham derivation, and the metaphorical allusion to 'shaving' away unnecessary or unsubstantiated aspects of a written or spoken theory or explanation.

Occupational Hazard - Aspects of a job which can be dangerous or pose a high risk of injury.

Occupational Psychology - Also called Organisational Psychology. The study of peoples behaviour at work, covering personal relations, mental health, employee selection and training, safety, etc.

Ochlocracy - Mob rule. Also known as Mobocracy. Ocholocratic groups are typically prone to extreme actions and not very clever decisions, which may be a reflection of vengeful motivation, weak intelligence, lack of organization, or any/all of these. An ochlocracy is usually an example of ineffective democracy, and of the so called 'wisdom of crowds' not working very well. Often mob rule results from a reaction against oppressive leadership. A popular metaphor which criticizes mob rule is: 'the lunatics have taken over the asylum'. Ochlocracy derives from the Greek word okhlos meaning mob. An ochlocrat is one who advocates or participates in mob rule. See the word mob , which is interesting in its own right.

Off-Balance Sheet - (OBS) Refers to items such as assets or a debts which are not recorded on a company's balance sheet.

Offer By Prospectus - A description of a company, for example financial structure, prospects, aims, etc., used when new shares are offered to the public, or when the company is for sale.

Offer Document - A document which a prospective buyer of a company sends to the company's shareholders giving details of the offer in the hope of persuading them to sell their shares.

Office Of Fair Trading - (OFT) In the UK, a non-ministerial government organisation, established in 1973, to protect consumers and ensure that competing businesses deal fairly, and to prohibit cartels, rogue trading, etc.

Official Strike - A work stoppage by employees that has the backing and approval of a union.

Offline - Refers to a computer which is not connected to the Internet.

Off-Market - Refers to the buying and selling of shares outside the Stock Market.

Off-Peak - A time period when a service, e.g. phone network, travel, electricity, gas, etc., is being used less frequently by consumers, therefore prices and rates are cheaper at this time.

Offshore - Refers to accounts, investments, banks, etc., which are in countries where there are lower taxes and/or little government control.

Off-the-Charts - Something way below or way above normal expectations.

Off-the-Books - A payment which is not officially recorded, usually to avoid tax.

Off-the-Grid - A person who does not wish to be in 'the system' (for example has no bank account, employment or tax identification, no fixed address, etc). May instead refer to a person who lives self-suffiently in terms of gas, electric, water, sewerage services, etc. Or someone not connected to the internet.

Off-the-Peg - Known in the US as Off-the-Rack. Describes merchandise, usually clothing, which is made in standard designs and sizes, rather than made-to-measure, and is available in stock at retail outlets.

Oligarchy - A small, elite group of usually wealthy people or families who control a government or organisation, and who are unwilling to share their power.

Oligopoly - A market in which a small number of companies control the supply of certain goods and services.

Ombudsman - A government official who investigates complaints from the general public about companies, government officials, the media, etc.

Omnishambles - severe chaos, typically in several areas of organizational responsibility, and typically where a person or organization is expected to be well-organized (see omnishambles in the cliches origins page).

One-Stop - Describes a retail establishment which provides an extensive range of goods and services, so the customer can purchase everything they need without having to go elsewhere.

Online - Refers to a service or product which is available to use or buy on the Internet. A computer which is connected to the Internet.

Onshore Accounts - Bank accounts or investments held in countries which have normal rates of tax and strict government control.

Open Account - An arrangement between a vendor and buyer in which the vendor allows the buyer to pay at a later date for goods received.

Open-Book Management - A management technique in a company whereby all the employees are involved in the running of the company by training them in, and giving them access to, financial and operational details.

Open Border - A border which allows the flow of unrestricted goods and people between countries.

Open Cheque - Also known as an Uncrossed Cheque. A cheque which does not have to be paid into an account, and can be cashed at the bank of the person who wrote it. Also means a cheque which has been signed but no amount has been filled in.

Open Communication - In business, a situation in which employees have full information about the organisation, and are encouraged to exchange ideas and objectives with management.

Open-Ended Investment Companies - (OEIC) Limited investment companies which manage mutual investment funds. An OEIC can issue more shares if there is a demand from investors. The fund reduces if investors sell their shares back to the company.

Open Market - A market which operates without restrictions, in which anyone can buy and sell.

Open Offer - Also known as Entitlement Issue. An offer to existing share holders of a company, which entitles them to purchase new shares at a fixed price, usually lower than the current market price, in order to raise money for the company.

Open Shop - A business or factory which does not require employees to be members of a trade union.

Open Source - Describes computer software for which the original source code is freely accessible to everyone, so that anyone can modify or copy the program without paying a fee.

Operating Income - The gross earnings of a company minus operating costs, excluding taxes and interest.

Operating Lease - An arrangement in which a business leases equipment, cars, buildings, etc., for a period of time which is less than the expected useful life of the asset.

Operation Process Chart - Used in manufacturing, a chart which shows each stage of a production process, including when materials are needed, how much time is to be allocated for each job, how many people are required to carry out the work, etc.

Opinion Leader - A high-profile, influential public figure, such as a celebrity or business person, whose opinions and tastes are respected and/or copied by the general public.

Opportunism - The practice of exploiting and taking advantage of opportunities which present themselves, with no regard for other people or eventual consequences.

Opportunity Cost - Term which refers to the value or benefit of something which will be lost in order to achieve or pursue something else.

Optimise - To get the most out of something. To use something in the best possible way.

Ordinary Capital - The amount of capital invested in a company by shareholders.

Ordinary Creditor - A creditor who has no priority or security if a company which owes them money goes bankrupt. Therefore, they will be paid only after other creditors have been paid.

Ordinary Interest - Interest paid which is calculated based on a 360 day year, or 12 months of 30 days.

Ordinary Resolution - A resolution accepted and passed by a company's shareholders by a simple majority, i.e., more than 50%, at a shareholders meeting or by a signed postal resolution which has been sent to the shareholders.

Ordinary Share - Also called Common Stock. A share in a company which entitles the owner to a share in the company's profits, and the right to vote at shareholders meetings.

Organic Growth - Describes when a company develops and expands by increasing output and/or sales through its own activities, rather than by a merger or acquisitions (buying other companies).

Organigram - Also called Organisation Chart. A diagram which shows the structure of a business or organisation, showing connections between departments, jobs, etc.

Organised Labour - Employees who are members of a Trade Union.

Orphaned Technology - A term which refers to computer products, programs, etc., which have been abandoned or not marketed by their developers.

Orphan Product - In medicine, a test, device, drug, etc., which may be useful for certain rare diseases or disorders but is not financially viable, so is therefore not developed for commercial use.

Outbid - To offer more money than a rival for something, especially at an auction.

Outbound Telemarketing - When a company calls prospective customers on the phone in order to sell them goods or services, compared to Inbound Telemarketing where the customer calls a company for assistance or to purchase goods.

Outdoor Advertising - Also known as Out-Of-Home Advertising. Advertising which consumers can see while they are outside, e.g. billboards, newsstands, skywriting, advertising blimps, etc.

Outgoings - Term used in the UK to describe money being paid out on a regular basis by an individual or a company.

Outlay - The total amount of money which has to be spent to acquire an asset or start a project, including costs, taxes, delivery charges, etc.

Outplacement - A service provided by a former employer which helps a terminated employee find a new job.

Output Tax - In the UK, the amount of VAT (Value Added Tax) a company or business adds to the price of its products or services.

Outside Shareholder - A shareholder who doesn't own more than 50% of a company's shares.

Outsourcing - An arrangement in which a company produces goods or provides services for another company, usually in the same country.

Outstanding Shares - Also called Outstanding Stock. A company's ordinary shares which have been issued and are owned by investors.

Outward Investment - Investments which are made abroad.

Overage - A company's surplus, such as money or goods, which is available but exceeds the amount needed or required.

Overallotment - On the Stock Market, the offering for sale of more shares, etc., than are actually available, in the anticipation that some orders will be cancelled.

Overbought - On the Stock Market. a situation in which there has been too much buying of shares, etc., which has therefore caused prices to rise too high.

Overcapitalised - Refers to a business which has been provided with more money than it needs. To overestimate the capital value of a business.

Overdraft - Refers to the amount of money that is owed to a bank because withdrawals from an account exceed deposits. An arrangement in which a bank extends credit to a customer, usually up to a maximum amount.

Overheads - In business, regular costs which are incurred, such as wages, rent, insurance, utilities, etc.

Overmanned - A situation in which there are more workers than are needed for a job.

Overproduction - To produce more goods than are needed or wanted, an excess of supply over demand.

Overriding Commission - A commission paid to an agency office manager based on business created by agents who work at that office.

Overtime - Time worked in addition to normal working hours. The pay received, usually charged at a higher rate, for working outside regular working hours.

Overtrading - A situation which occurs when a company expands its business too quickly and does not have enough capital to pay expenses, such as debts, wages, etc., which often results in liquidation.

Own Brand - Known as House Brands in the US and Home Brands in Australia. Products which are sold by a retailer under the retailer's own name, rather than the name of the manufacturer.

Owner-Operator - A self-employed commercial truck or lorry driver who uses their own vehicle to run a business.


P2P - Peer-to-peer is a model for computer connectivity and file-sharing which extends more widely to services and large-scale services/supply models, and which threatens/promises to change the world. See peer-to-peer .

Paid-Up Capital - The total amount of money which has actually been paid in full by shareholders for their shares.

Paid-Up Policy - An insurance policy on which no more premiums are required, and the policy is considered paid in full and still remains in force.

Paid-Up Share - A share for which the shareholder has paid the full amount, as stated in the contract.

Package Deal - A set of several products which are offered for sale and must be bought in a combined package.

Packaging - Materials used to wrap a product. The way in which something, such as a product, person, proposal, etc., is presented, usually to the public.

Page Break - On a computer screen, a mark which indicates where a new page will be printed in a document.

Page Traffic - In computing, the number of times a web page has been visited.

Palm Top - A small computer which fits into the palm of the hand.

P and P (P&P) - Postage and Packing. In the UK, The cost of packing and sending goods, usually added to the price of mail-order goods.

Pan-European - Relating to all, or most of, the countries in Europe.

Pants - Street slang now mainstream, referring to anything of very poor quality. Interestingly the term first appeared in the late 1800s, based on the word 'knickers' as an expression of contempt or ridicule.

Paper Loss - In business, a loss which has occurred and appears in a company's accounts, but has not yet been realised until a transaction has been made, e.g. the sale of an asset which has lost value.

Paper Profit - A profit which has been made but has not yet been realised until a share, etc., has been sold.

Paper-Pusher - An office worker who has a boring job dealing with paperwork all day.

Paradigm Shift - Term first used by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 to describe when an important or significant change occurs in the perception of things. A sudden change in point of view.

Paralegal - A legal assistant who is not a qualified lawyer, but who is trained to work in or with the law.

Parallel Market - A country's separate market which deals in goods and currencies outside the country's normal official government controls.

Parastatal - In certain countries, a company or organisation which is partially or fully owned and controlled by the government.

Parent Company - A company or organisation which owns more than 50% of the voting shares in another company, therefore the Parent Company controls management and operations in the other (subsidiary) company.

Pareto Principle - Also known as the 80-20 Rule, e.g., 20% of employees perform 80% of the work. Or 20% of customers produce 80% of revenue. Or more generally, often situations whereby 80% of the consequences result from 20% of the causes. Commonly the ratio is (surprisingly) even more extreme. See Pareto Principle in more detail.

Parkinson's Law - A humorous and generally true observation by Cyril Northcote Parkinson (British historian 1909-1993) that capacity or time is inevitably filled, for example: 'Work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion'. See Parkinson's Law and examples , and also Parkinson's Law of Triviality , also known as the Bikeshed Colour effect .

Part Exchange - Known in the US as Trade-In. A payment method, usually when purchasing a car, in which the buyer gives something they own, for example a car, as part payment to the vendor for the more expensive item. The balance is usually paid in cash or with a loan.

Participating Performance Share - A type of share/stock which gives a company's shareholder the right to receive dividends and also extra payments relating to the company's profits.

Partnership - A business which is owned by two or more people, all sharing the profits and responsibility for managing the business.

Part-Time Worker - Someone who works less hours than a full time employee on a permanent basis for a company, usually for a set number of hours a week.

Party Plan - Also called Party Selling. A method of marketing in which agents host parties, usually at someone's home, to demonstrate and sell products to invited potential customers.

Pascal - A computer language which is used to write programs, also used in teaching programming.

Passing Trade - Describes customers who go into a shop, public house, etc., because they notice it as they are passing by.

Patent - An official document which grants an inventor or manufacturer sole rights to an invention or product.

Patent Pending - A phrase sometimes printed on goods to show that a patent has been applied for but not yet granted.

Paternity Leave - The right of employees, male or female, to take time off from their job following the birth of their partner's baby. Entitlement to Paternity Leave depends on how long they have been with their employer.

Paternity Pay - An employee benefit paid to partners of pregnant women so they can take time off from their job after the birth of the baby to give support to the mother. Entitlement to Paternity Pay depends on how long the partner has been with their employer.

Patron - A person who purchases goods or services, often on a regular basis, from a shop or company. A benefactor or sponsor who supports and/or gives money to an individual or an organisation, such as a charity.

Pawnbroker - A money lender who lends cash at a high rate of interest in exchange for the borrowers personal possessions, such as jewellery, as security, which is returned when the loan is fully paid. If the loan is not repaid the Pawnbroker sells the item.

Payable To Bearer - A cheque, security, etc., which can be exchanged for money by the person in possession.

Pay-As-You-Go - Refers to a method of paying for a service as you use it, such as mobile phone credit. Also can be used to pay debts as they are incurred.

PAYE - Pay As You Earn. In the UK, a system of paying income tax, which is deducted from an employees salary by an employer and paid to the government.

Paying Agent - An agent, usually a bank, that makes dividend payments to shareholders on behalf of the issuing company.

Payment By Results - A system of paying employees according to the amount of work they do. Therefore, the bigger the volume of work output, the bigger the salary.

Payout Ratio - Also known as Dividend Payout Ratio. The percentage of a company's net earnings paid to shareholders in dividends.

PDA - P ersonal D igital A ssistant. A small hand-held electronic device that is used for storing information and can serve as a telephone, diary, alarm clock, fax, etc.

Pecking Order - The hierarchy in businesses, organisations, etc, i.e., the order of people at different ranks.

Pecuniary - Relating to, or involving money.

Peer Group - A social group of equals, for example, in age, social class, education, etc. A group of products or businesses which are similar.

Peer-To-Peer - Also abbreviated to P2P, this describes computer systems which act as servers and are connected to each other via the internet, allowing people to share share files, so there is no need for a central computer, or traditional authority/body/agent. The concept now extends more widely to business models in various areas. See P2P acronym .

Pen Portrait - A description of a person, a 'character sketch in words', now commonly a person-profile used for audience targeting purposes (marketing, recruitment, etc), although the expression dates back to the 1800s, originally referring to a description of a person, so as to produce a picture in the mind. 'Pen Picture' was an early alternative term.

Penalty Clause - A clause in a contract which states that a specified sum of money must be paid by the party who breaks the contract.

Penetration Pricing - The practice of charging a low price for a new product for a short period of time in order to establish a market share and attract customers.

Penny Share - Describes shares which have a very low value and therefore appeal to speculators.

Pen-Pusher - An employee with a boring job whose work consists of dealing with unimportant documents, paperwork, etc.

Pension - A private or government fund from which regular payments are made to a person who has retired from work, or who is considered too ill to carry on working.

Pension Fund - A fund set up to collect money on a regular basis from employers and employees, which pays the employees pension when they retire from work.

Peppercorn Rent - In the UK, a very low or nominal payment, which was originally a single peppercorn, made to secure a lease.

Per Capita - For each person in the population. Per head. An expression of something (for example car ownership, consumption, etc) in relation to the population of a particular city, nation, etc.

Per Diem - Latin for 'Per Day'. Often refers to money paid to employees for daily expenses or reimbursements.

Perfect Competition - Describes a market in which no one can influence prices because there is enough information about a product to prevent control by an individual or a single organisation.

Perfect Storm - Coincidentally arising circumstances combining to produce a disastrous effect. This is an allusion to weather factors, commonly applied to economic or trading situations, but applicable to any disaster or chaotic outcome resulting from forces or effects whose combination and timing has not been thought likely or anticipated at all.

Performance-Related Pay - A scheme set up in the workplace in which the employees get paid according to how well they perform in their job.

Peripatetic - Working or travelling from place to place, staying at different locations for a short period, such as, and especially as a teacher does, in working at more than one school. The teacher analogy is apt since the word derives from the Greek peripatetikos, and the earlier peripatein, which referred specifically to the teaching style of Aristotle (384-322 BC, Greek philosopher, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great), who walked about while he talked. The ancient Greek prefix peri means around, or round, and patein means to tread.

Perishables - Describes food, such as fruit, meat, fish, dairy products, etc., which will decay or spoil rapidly.

Perjury - The criminal offence of knowingly telling a lie (with intent to influence the outcome of the hearing) in a court of law after having taken an oath or affirmation. It closely relates to and is often implicit within the offence of perverting the course of justice, which in the UK technically carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The word perjury derives from Latin perjurium, meaning false oath, similar to jury which comes from jurare, meaning to swear.

Permatemp - A person who works for an organisation on a long-term contractual basis, but who is not a permanent employee.

Permission Marketing - A term used for the advertising of products or services on the Internet, for which the marketing company obtain the consent of prospective customers to send them information about certain products or services.

Personal Action - A type of court case in which an individual claims damages for personal injury, damage to his property, etc.

Personal Allowance - Known as Personal Exemption in the US. The amount of income an individual can earn in a year before paying tax.

Personal Assistant - PA. A person who works for one person, often an executive, in an organisation, performing secretarial and administrative duties.

Personal Day - When an employee is permitted to have time off work to deal with personal matters.

Personal Development - Also called Self-Development. Acquiring abilities, skills, knowledge, etc., in order to enhance one's performance and self-perception.

Personal Information Manager - PIM. Computer software which handles personal information, such as names, addresses, memos, lists, e-mails, etc.

Personal Liability - An individual's legal responsibility in the event of injury to someone, damage to property and/or the debts of their own company.

Personnel - The people who work for a business or organisation. An administrative department in an organisation which deals with employees and often liaises between departments.

Persuasion/The Three Modes of Persuasion - Aristotle's 2,300 years-old three principles model for communications which successfully move an audience to action or change (see the fuller definitions and examples of The Three Modes of Persuasion ):

  1. Ethos - The integrity of the communicator.
  2. Pathos - The emotional effect (of communicator and message) on the listener/reader/audience.
  3. Logos - The relevance and strength of the message content.

Performance (Project/Program) Evaluation on Review Technique - PERT. A management scheduling tool which charts the tasks involved in a project, showing the sequence of the work, the time needed for each task, etc.

PEST Analysis - Political Economical Social and Technological Analysis. A business tool which is used in strategic planning and helps to understand the environmental influences on a business or orgasnisation.

Peter Principle - Formulated by Canadian author Laurence J Peter (1919-1990): 'In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence'. The theory that employees rise in rank in an organisation until they are finally promoted to a level, and remain there, at which they do not have the ability to do their job.

Petrodollar - Term coined by professor of economics Ibrahim Oweiss in the 1970s which describes the large amounts of money earned by oil production in OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries.

Petty Cash - A small amount of cash kept by a business to pay for small purchases.

Phablet - A tablet computer that is also a phone. Or a phone that is also a tablet computer. This term emerged 2012/13 with the launch of the technology to which it refers. A word formed like this (i.e., a combination of parts of the two words/things it refers to - in this case, phone and a tablet) is called a portmanteau .

Pharmaceutical - Relating to or engaged in the process of making and selling medicinal drugs.

Philanthropy/Philanthropist - Promotion of the welfare of others, typically through financial provision (a philanthorpist is one who does this). From the Greek philanthropos, meaning man-loving.

Philology - The branch of knowledge which deals with the study of the history of language and literature. Historical linguistics.

Phishing - A type of fraud carried out on the internet by sending people legitimate-looking e-mails asking for their personal information, such as bank account details, passwords, etc., and using them to steal their money.

Photocall - A planned and announced occasion during which celebrities, politicians, products launches, etc., have photographs taken by the press and other media for publicity purposes.

Physical Capital - Refers to a company's assets which are used in a production process, such as machinery, buildings, materials, etc.

Picket - A person, or persons, posted at the entrance of a place of work which is affected by a strike, in order to stop people entering the premises.

Pictogram - Also called a Pictograph. A graphic symbol or diagram which represents a concept, an amount, an activity, etc., in pictures.

Piece Rate - A payment system in which employees are paid a fixed rate for each item they produce.

Piecework - Work in which payment is based on the amount of work done regardless of the time it takes to do it.

Pie Chart - A chart or graph which is circular in shape and divided into triangular sections (like slices of a pie), the sizes of which are relative to the quantities represented.

Piggyback - A system which rides on the back of an existing system, e.g. a loan or mortgage or an advertising campaign.

PIN - Personal Identification Number. A number given by a bank to a customer so the customer can access their bank account using an ATM (cash machine), or use their credit/debit card in retail outlets.

Ping - P acket IN ternet G roper. An Internet program which is used to check if another computer on a network is working. To contact someone on a computer.

Pink Collar - Describes jobs which were once traditionally done by women, such as nursing, secretarial, teaching, etc.

Pink Sheets - Formally known as Pink Quote. In the US, a system displaying over-the-counter shares, which is published every day. Most companies listed on the Pink Sheets are very small and do not meet the minimum requirements for trading on the Stock Exchange.

Pink Slip - In the US, an official notice of job termination given to an employee.

Piracy - The unauthorised copying of CDs, DVDs, computer programs, etc., in order to sell them or give them away.

Pixel - Short for Picture Element. The smallest element of an image displayed on a computer screen. The quality of the image depends on the number of pixels per square inch, i.e., the more pixels the higher the resolution.

Plain Language - Represented notably by the Plain Language Movement, and the Plain Language Information and Action Network (PLAIN), in the late 1900s Plain Language became a generally recognized technical term for the advocation and use of clear explanations, descriptions, instructions, etc., in official documents and other communications, which frequently use goobledegook or 'officialese', i.e., language which is overly complex and/or containing confusing jargon and abbreviations, etc. See gobbledegook .

Plaintiff - A person who brings a lawsuit against someone else in a court of law.

Planned Economy - A country's economic system controlled by the government, which makes all the decisions about production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

Planogram - In retailing, a drawing or diagram which shows when and how products should be displayed in a store.

Plasma - Interestingly, in physics, plasma is the often overlooked fourth state of matter, aside from solid, liquid and gas. Plasma is ionized gas containing free electrons, making it responsive to electromagnetism, and conductive of electricity, in turn enabling it to take a very visible physical shape unlike other forms of gas. The stars are made of plasma; so is lightening and the Northen Lights (Aurora Borealis). Plasma display screens also basically employ this effect.

PLC - P ublic L imited C ompany. In the UK, a company with limited liability, whose shares can be purchased by the public.

Plenary/Plenary session - Plenary essentially means full or complete. In the context of formal organized gatherings it means fully attended by everyone together. The term 'plenary session' is very commonly used in business and management to refer to a session which all attendees attend at a conferences or other event, notably to differentiate from smaller sessions of sub-groups concerened with different topics and held in different locations/rooms. Separately plenary refers to something or someone having a complete or absolute quality, such as an official with plenary (full and complete) power.

Plimsoll - Named after merchant Samuel Plimsoll. International Load line or Waterline on the hull of every cargo ship, which indicates the maximum depth to which a ship can be safely loaded with cargo.

Plutocracy - A government which is controlled by wealthy people.

PMI - P urchasing M anagers I ndex. Published every month, an economic measure relating to manufacturing. A PMI over 50 indicates industry is expanding.

Poaching/Poacher - Poaching refers to an employee who targets and wins customers of a previous employer, typically by exploiting knowledge and contacts accumulated from the previous employment. The term most commonly refers to sales people, but is applied to any employee who approaches and wins customers from a previous job by exploiting his/her previous knowledge or records of customers and related information. The behaviour/behavior is extremely common in all types of business, and at all levels, especially where customer loyalty is strongly based on contact/skills/service/relationship on a personal basis rather than an impersonal organizational loyalty. Employers in industries vulnerable to such activity (basically all businesses which entail strong personal relationships between employees and customers) seek to limit the risks of poaching via 'post cessation covenants' in employment contracts, although enforcing such terms is often very difficult for employers due to contra-obligations protecting employees from 'restriction of trade' . See the related term 'gamekeeper to poacher' .

Poisoned Chalice - A job or situation which seems good at first but soon becomes unpleasant or harmful.

Poison Pill - A business strategy used by a company to avoid being taken over by another company, e.g., the selling of assets, shares, etc., to make the company look less attractive to the potential buyer.

Polymath - A person of great knowledge and varied learning. Loosely from Greek poly, many, and manthanein, learn.

Political Correctness/pc/non-pc - commonly abbreviated to pc or PC, and more usually in the negative form 'non-pc'. 'Political correctness' is the practice of not using words, expressions, actions, etc., which could cause offence to (especially) minority groups, or in fact to any group which might reasonably be offended by the words or actions concerned. PC is sometimes alternatively ironically interpreted to mean 'Political Claptrap/Claptrappers', referring to over-zealous application or expectation of political correctness.

Ponzi Scheme - Named after Charles Ponzi, a fraudulent investment scheme, similar to a Pyramid Scheme, in which people are offered high returns, while their money is used to pay earlier investors, so that later investors often end up with little or no return because new investors can't be found.

Pop-Under - On a computer, an advertisement, etc., which comes up on the screen behind the web page which is being viewed, and does not appear until the page is closed.

Pop-Up - On a computer screen, a small window containing an advertisement, etc., which appears on a page on top of the content which is being viewed.

Poorgeoisie - People who are rich but pretend they don't have much money.

Pork Barrel - A US political term for when government funds are used for projects which benefit certain local groups or constituents, and show their political representative in a good light.

Portal - On the Internet, a website, usually a search engine, which is the point of entry to other websites, and offers services such as e-mail, news, shopping, etc.

Porter's Generic Strategies - Named after economist Michael Porter. Describes strategies used by companies to achieve a strong advantage against competitors.

Portfolio - A collection of investments, such as shares, bonds, etc., which are owned by an individual or organisation.

Portfolio Career - Concept attributed to guru Charles Handy in the 1990s. A career in which a person pursues several jobs at the same time, rather than working full-time for one particular company.

Port Of Entry - A place in a country where people and/or goods can officially leave or enter.

Portmanteau Word - A word formed from parts of two separate words, whose combined meanings generally produce the new meaning also. Many new management and business words, especially slang and jargon, enter the language in this way, and some become popular and well-established. See portmanteau words in the cliches and expressions origins page.

Positioning - Term used to describe the way a company, product, service, etc., is marketed in order to make it stand out from the competition by choosing a niche according to brand, price, packaging, etc.

Positive Discrimination - In the UK, a company's policy of favouring a disadvantaged (because of race, sex, etc.,) group by making sure that jobs are given to people in these groups.

Positive Sum Game - A win-win situation in which both sides involved in a business transaction, etc., can profit.

Postage And Packing - Called Postage and Handling in the US. The cost of wrapping an item and sending it by post. Often used for mail order goods.

Post Cessation Covenant - An employment contract clause/provision which seeks to prevent an employee from exploiting his/her knowledge/contacts/relationships after leaving the employment and to compete with the previous employer, or to work for a competing organization. Such covenants typically apply for six months, or a year, or longer, and are also defined according to market sectors and geographical territories. Post cessation covenants are difficult to enforce, notably in small consumer businesses identifying and proving the loss and acquisition of clients, and balancing actions against 'restriction of trade' obligations, but in some cases employers recover substantial damages from previous employees who breach their terms. See 'poaching' .

Post-Date - To insert a future date on a cheque or document at the time of writing, so it becomes effective at that later date.

Post-Fordism - Also called Flexible Modernity. An industrial production system which has changed from mass production in large factories, such as Ford Motors, and moved towards smaller flexible, more specialised manufacturing systems.

Power Brand - A brand of goods, etc., which is well known and has a large share of the consumer market for a long period of time.

Power Lunch - A business meeting held over lunch in which important decisions may be made, or high level discussions carried out.

Power Nap - A short nap. usually lasting about 20 minutes, taken during the day, that refreshes a person so they can carry on working.

PPC - Pay-Per-Click (also called CPC, Cost-Per-Click) - A method of internet/website/electronic advertising by which an advertiser pays according to the number of visitors/users who click on an advert. This compares with the main alternative method, CPI - Cost-Per-Impression (or 'cost per view') - by which advertisers pay according to the number of times an advert is displayed/viewed, and which is used analytically/statistically beyond electronic advertising. The non-electronic/non-internet equivalent of PPC/CPC is loosely 'cost per enquiry/inquiry' or 'cost per lead'. CPO - Cost-Per-Order (cost per transaction) - is a less common variation, by which advertising cost is calculated/charged according to numbers or values of orders placed (purchases or sales revenues), which is a further step in the buying/selling process. The cost-effectiveness of PPC (pay per click) is easier to predict and manage than CPI (cost per impression/view), but less easy to predict and manage than CPO (cost per order/transaction/sale). See sales and selling for detailed explanation of the sales and selling process.

Prairie Dogging - This occurs when someone who works in an open office, which is divided into cubicles, drops something or shouts and everyone else pops their heads above the dividing walls to see what is happening.

Precedent - A past act or decision which is used as an example to decide the outcome of similar subsequent acts.

Predatory Lending - The often illegal practice of lending money to people who the lender knows are unable to pay back the loan, such as low-income house-owners, who subsequently may lose their homes which they have used as security against the loan.

Predatory Pricing - Also known as Destroyer Pricing. A situation where a company charges very low prices for goods or services in order to put its competitors out of business, after which prices will be raised.

Preference Share - Also called Preferred Shares. A type of share which pays the owner a fixed dividend before other share owners are paid their dividends. Preference Shareholders do not usually have the right to vote at shareholders meetings.

Preferential Creditor - A creditor who has the right to receive payment of debts, before other creditors, from a bankrupt company.

Pre-Market - On the Stock Market, trading which takes place between members before the official opening time.

Premium Income - The revenue recieved by an insurance company from its customers.

Presenteeism - The opposite of Absenteeism. A situation where employees work very long hours or come to work when they are ill and their performance is below standard, which can have a negative effect on the business.

Press Agent - A person employed to arrange publicity for an individual or organisation, for example in newspapers, on television, etc.

Press Conference - Called A News Conference in the US. A meeting held by a business, organisation, individual, etc., to which journalists are invited to hear a public announcement, and usually to ask questions.

Pressure Group - An organised group of people, or lobbyists, who campaign to influence businesses, governments, etc., to change their policies, e.g. regarding the environment, or to change laws.

Price - The amount of money required to purchase something or to bribe someone. The amount agreed upon between the buyer and seller in a commercial transaction.

Price Control - Maximum and minimum price limitations, often during periods of inflation, which a government puts on essential goods and/or services.

Price Discrimination - The practice of a provider to charge different prices for the same product to different customers.

Price Fixing - The, often illegal, practice of prices being fixed, by agreement, by competing companies who provide the same goods or services as each other.

Price Mechanism - Describes the way prices for goods and services are influenced by the changes in supply and demand. Shortages cause a rise in prices, surpluses cause a fall in prices.

Price Support - A system in which a minimum price is set by a government, and sometimes subsidised, for a product or commodity.

Price Taker - A company or individual whose selling or buying of goods and services has little or no influence over prices.

Pricing - To evaluate the price of a product by taking into account the cost of production, the price of similar competing products, market situation, etc.

Primary Data - Data which is collected by a company, business, etc., itself for its own use, using questionnaires, case studies, interviews, etc., rather than using other sources to collect the data.

Primary Demand - Consumers demand for a generic product rather than a particular brand.

Primary Market - On the Stock Exchange, when shares, securities, etc., are issued for the first time.

Primary Research - Also called Field Research. The collection of new or primary data through questionnaires, telephone interviews, etc., for a specific purpose.

Prime Cost - In manufacturing, etc., the cost of direct materials and labour required to make a product.

Principal - In finance, principal (the principal, or the principal sum/amount) refers to an amount of money loaned or borrowed. The term is used particularly when differentiating or clarifying an amount of money (loaned/borrowed/invested) excluding interest payments. Separately, more generally, in business the term 'the principal' refers to the owner of a business or brand, as distinct from an agent or representative, such as a franchisee.

Private Brand - Also called House Brand. A product which is owned by a retailer, and therefore has its own brand label on it, rather than the manufacturer or producer.

Private Company - Called A Private Corporation in the US. A company whose shares are not offered to the general public on the open market.

Private Equity - Describes companies shares which are not available for investors to buy and sell on the Stock Market, because the company is unlisted.

Private Sector - The part of a country's economy which is owned and run for profit by private businesses rather than being government controlled.

Privatise/Privatize - (UK/US English spelling) To change or sell a government controlled business or industry to privately owned companies.

Privity - A legal relationship between two parties in a contract.

PRO - P ublic R elations O fficer. Also known as a Chief Communications Officer. A person whose job is to promote and establish a good relationship between their client - an organisation or an individual - and the public.

Probation - A trial period during which an individual's suitability for a job or membership to a club, etc., is tested.

Probity - Complete integrity. Having strong moral principals and total honesty.

Pro Bono - Short for Pro Bono Publico (Latin for 'The Public Good'). Work carried out in the public interest for no fee or compensation, e.g. by a lawyer.

Proctor - Someone who supervises students, etc., taking exams to prevent cheating. Also a person or agent employed to manage the affairs of another person.

Product - The result of a manufacturing or natural process (such as food) which is offered for sale to the general public, usually by a retailer.

Product Evangelist - A person who is committed to a promoting a product through demonstrations, talks, blogging, etc.

Productivity - The rate at which goods are produced based on how long it takes, how many workers are required, how much capital and equipment is needed, etc.

Product Liability - Area of the law in which a manufacturer or retailer is legally responsible for any damage or injury caused by a defective product.

Product Life Cycle - This refers to the (generally very usual and unavoidable) stages that a product/service passes through from invention/development to maturity to decline until it becomes obsolete, usually because it has been superseded by competitive/replacement offerings, and/or to a lesser degree the product/service has saturated the market, i.e., everyone who wants it has purchased it. Product life cycle is often shown as a graph of sales volumes or market-share over time. The term 'product life cycle' is very broad - it may refer to a single specific item of one particular supplier, such as a 'Big Mac' burger, or an iPad, or a Colt 45 revolver; or to a product/service in a generic sense across an entire industrial sector, such as a personal computer, or television, or diesel locomotive; or to a technology, such as broadband, radar, the internal combustion engine, or steam-power; or even symbolically to a lifestyle or aspect of civilization, such as agriculture, fire, horse-transport, coins/paper money, Christianity, etc. The product life cycle begins with innovation and novelty, often supported by (commercially) patents or other protective mechanisms such as secrecy, cartels, legislative instruments, etc., during which the prices and gross profit margins of products/services are high (although net profits may be low due to recovery development/investment costs). This is shown as a steep upward curve on a product life cycle graph, reflecting/illustrating sales levels in volumes or revenues or market share, horizontally, passing through vertical time-zones, typically years. The curve then flattens to reflect/illustrate 'maturity' of product/service life, and a period of reasonably constant sales, during which profits should be healthy, even if competition and competing technologies have begun to pressurize prices downwards, because investment costs have been recovered and economies of scale in production and distribution have been achieved. Next the curve to dips gradually downwards, reflecting/illustrating reduced sales levels and the 'decline' of the product/service market appeal. Profits may still be healthy during the decline phase if costs and efficiences are managed carefully, although many corporations persist in investing in and attempting to revive declining products/services, which tends to be wasteful and in vain. Decline may last for many years depending on the product/service/technology concerned, and some technologies may maintain a small specialist niche market indefinitely, such as hot-air balloons, steam trains, archery, and cut-throat razors. Some technologies and specific products enjoy natural resurgences, but this is very rare, for example notably the bicycle (in Europe), whose product life cycle graph would show a steep rise after invention in the 1800s, then a plateau and a decline in the late 1900s, and then another rise as popularity surged again in the early 2000s. The fuel-oil technology product life cycle graph would show a similar double rise, initially for the market in oil-lamp lighting, and then, as the oil-lamp technology was about to become obsolete due to electric light, the motor car was invented. Likely a third fuel-oil demand surge will be enabled just as electric motoring replaces the internal combustion engine. When products/technologies become sufficiently huge, they (and the corporations which own them) can potentially exert influences and protections of vast socio-political dimensions. This effect can arguably be seen in the power of other major technology players such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, and equivalent corporations in fundamentally powerful sectors such as energy, minerals, transport, armaments, etc. In general however, product life cycles have become shorter over past decades and centuries, and are likely to continue to become even shorter in the future. For example, in the Stone Age, stone tools can be considered to have enjoyed an effective product life cycle of thousands of years. In the Middle Ages, candles enjoyed a product life cycle of several hundreds of years. In the European/western industrial age, steam-power enjoyed a product life cycle of two centuries. In the computer age, the product life cycle of the digital wristwatch and 'Walkman' cassette player was no more than two decades. In more recent times, the Myspace phenomenon launched in 2003, bought by News Corporation for $580m in 2005, the most popular website globally from 2006-2008, was in dramatic decline by 2009, and was forced to attempt a complete redesign and relaunch in 2013, effectively signifying the obsolescence of the original concept, an effective life cycle of just six years for a once global industry leader and technology definer. The modern world moves very quickly, and so too now do most product life cycles.

Product Placement - Also called Embedded Marketing. A type of advertising where a company pays a fee to have one or more of its products used as props in a film or television show.

Product Portfolio - A variety of products which are manufactured or distributed by a company or organisation.

Professional Liability - The legal liability of a professional, such as a doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc., who causes loss, harm or injury to their clients while performing their professional duties.

Profiteer - An organisation or individual who makes excessive profits by charging very high prices for goods which are in short supply.

Profit-centre - A business division or department or unit which is responsible for producing a profit, for example a shop unit within a chain of shops, or a branch within a network dealerships. Significantly a Profit-centre business unit will use a 'Profit and Loss Account' as a means of managing and reporting the business. A profit centre is involved in selling to customers. See Cost-centre, which tends only to be responsible for internal services and supply to other departments.

Profit Sharing - An incentive scheme in which a business shares some of its profit , usually in cash or shares, with its employees.

Profit Squeeze - A situation in which a company or business makes less profit over a period of time because of rising costs and/or falling prices.

Pro Forma Invoice - An invoice prepared by a supplier describing goods, price, quantity, etc., which is sent to the buyer before the goods are supplied.

Program Trading - On the Stock Market, the buying and selling of large amounts of shares by computer, the program of which is triggered when trading reaches a certain level of volume.

Prohibitive - Preventing or discouraging something, for example people are discouraged from buying a product because the price is prohibitive, i.e., too high.

Project - A very general term for a task or objective of some complexity and duration, such that it needs properly planning, organizing, resourcing and managing. A small project can easily be part of a person's usual work duties. A large project can be as big as starting a new business, or constructing a skyscraper, or putting a spacecraft on Mars. Typically large projects are established as being separate to usual operational duties and responsibilities of workers, although any job can at any time be extended to include responsibility for the management of a project within it. A project differs from conventional 'work' mainly in being far more firmly structured, scheduled, resourced, and proactive, etc., whereas conventional 'work' is less predictable and tends to be of a more passive, responsive, reactive and flexible nature. Projects may be opportunistic and proactive (such as new product developments, or building something new, or some sort of exploratory research), or a necessary response/reaction to problems, emergencies, failures, etc., (for example a product recall, or a disaster recovery or investigation, or a re-training requirement). Large projects almost inevitably involve a degree of people-management. Projects may require that people/labour resources are provided internally/'in-house' or externally/'contracted-out' and commonly a mixture of both, especially if the project is large compared to the size of the organization which owns and instigates the project.

Project Management - The process of managing and planning a successful project from start to finish, which includes controlling, organizing, managing resources, people, budgets, etc. See project management .

Project Manager - A person responsible for planning and delivering a large stand-alone task, objective, venture, etc., (a large and complex 'project') or a professional who is skilled in doing this, which generally includes using suitable project management tools and systems, and people-management skills where appropriate. N.B. A person who is instructed to plan and manage a project within his/her conventional work duties is not necessarily, in the usual meaning of the term, a 'project manager'. The term 'project manager' usually refers to a person whose primary responsibility is to manage a stand-alone project which by definition falls outside of conventional and normal operational work duties.

Project Sponsor - A person in an organization who instigates or proposes a project, and creates/establishes/agrees the necessary executive approval, funding, resourcing, etc., typically extending to the appointment of the project manager. A project sponsor is usually and crucially responsible for developing and presenting the financial justification for the project, which generally entails outcomes and timescales, and assuming personal accountability for the success of the project.

PROM - P rogrammable R ead O nly M emory. In a computer, a permanent memory chip which can only be recorded on once, by the computer user, not the manufacturer, after which the data is stored and cannot be changed.

Promo - A promotional broadcast on television, radio, etc., advertising a product, TV show, film, etc.

Promotion - The use of marketing and/or advertising to bring attention to a product, brand, service, company, etc., usually in order to increase sales. The raising of an employee to a higher rank in an organisation.

Prompt Note - A document sent to someone to remind them when a payment is due on a purchase.

Proof Copy - The printed pages of a book, magazine, etc., which is read and corrected (e.g. spelling mistakes) by a Proof Reader before the final printing of all the copies.

Propaganda - Politically motivated publication or writing designed to influence thinking or action, usually in a misleading way. When carried out by a government or other authority this may also be referred to in more modern terms as 'spin'. The word derives from the Latin name of a Roman Catholic committee responsible for 'propagation of the faith' in the 1600s.

Proprietary Trading - The buying and selling of shares, bonds, etc., by a securities firm with its own money for its own profit, rather than for its customers.

Pro Rata - In proportion to. Refers to the division of costs, profits, income, etc., depending on the size of each persons share in the whole amount.

Prosecute - To bring a criminal charge against someone in a court of law.

Prospectus - A document published by a company which is offering its shares for sale, disclosing information such as the company's activities, objectives, finances, etc. A book published by a university or school containing information about courses, etc.

Prosumer - Pro fession /Pro ducer Con sumer . A consumer who is involved in the specification of products, or has professional tools and is involved in the the design and manufacture of products.

Protectionism - The policy of a country protecting its own industries against foreign competition by imposing taxes, etc., on imported goods.

Pro Tem - Temporarily. For the time being.

Protocol - In computing, a set of rules which determine the way data is transmitted between computers. The code of conduct in an organisation, etc.

Prototype - An original design or working model of something, often used in demonstrations.

Provenance - The origins and history/development/movement of a created work (originally referring to art work, but now extending to any created work, such as writings, computer programs, etc) such as to provide record and evidence of the creator, reliability, ownership, adaptation, etc., of the work, thereby demonstrating or supporting the work's authenticity and quality. The term is from Latin pro, forth, and venire, come.

Provident Fund - A form of retirement savings. An employer and employee pay regular, usually equal, amounts into an investment fund, which is then paid to the employee upon retirement, often in a lump sum.

Proviso - A clause in a contract which makes a condition or stipulation.

Prudence - Aside from its usual general meaning of carefulness in judgment and decision-making, prudence particularly refers to caution in commercial/financial/economic risk-taking, and to the typically great caution exercised by financial folk (accountants and bankers notably) in planning, budgeting, forecasting, granting loans, extending credit, defining standards and policies, and accounting practice as a whole, etc.

Prune Juice - A term attributed to 'showbusinessman' Alan Sugar, which refers to revenues which come into a business and are lost very quickly and unavoidably as costs, and so do very little if anything to actually improve trading profits. Sugar used this term referring to the vast TV revenues paid to top soccer clubs, which flushes through their businesses as similarly vast payments to players. A business which benefits (or suffers) from the prune juice effect tends to give the impression of being much bigger and more solvent and profitable than it actually is. Prune juice revenues also tend to dictate business expediture models which dilute real strategic and management control of the business owners, so that the providers of revenues exert a very high level of influence.

Proxy - A person who has been given the authority to act for another person, e.g., a proxy can vote on behalf of a shareholder.

Pseudo - Pronounced 'sudo', this is a prefix which can be put before many different words to represent a fake or false quality which often attempts to imitate or behave as the real thing. From Greek pseudos, meaning falsehood.

Pseudonym - a false name, commonly adopted by a writer seeking to hide their true identity.

Psychological Contract - usually expressed as 'the Psychological Contract', this is the understanding between employee(s) and employer as to their mutual expectations arising from the employment relationship. The expectations involve a complex balance of inputs and rewards, including contractually clear elements such as hours and pay, and extend to implications and assumptions about security, loyalty, and other highly subjective factors. The Psychological Contract is a two-way notional agreement between employee and employer, typically analysed from the employee perspective. Psychological Contract theory potentially extends to relationships between suppliers and customers, and between the state and its people. More detailed explanation is in the Psychological Contract section of this website.

Psychographics - Used in marketing, the analysis of peoples characters, lifestyles, attitudes, purchasing habits, etc.

Psychographic Segmentation - The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their interests, attitudes, social class, values, personality, etc.

Psychometric Test - A test which measures a person's personality, mental ability, knowledge, etc., often used to ascertain whether a potential employee is suitable for a job.

Public Company - A company whose shares are traded on the Stock Market.

Public Debt - Also known as National Debt. The total amount of money owed by a country's national and local governments.

Public Domain - Something that is not protected by copyright and is openly available for anyone to use, look at, etc.

Public Employee - A person employed by the government.

Public Enterprise - A business or economic activity owned and controlled by the government.

Public Issue - When a company offers shares for sale to the public for the first time.

Publicist - A publicity or press agent who publicises organisations, people, etc.

Public Liability - When the owner of a business, etc., is responsible for any injury or harm inflicted on a member of the public because of negligence or unsafe products, etc., against which an insurance policy can be obtained by the business.

Public Relations - PR. The promotion of an organisation or person with the aim of creating a favourable relationship with the public.

Public Works - Buildings and structures constructed by the government for public use, such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.

Puff - In advertising, to exaggerate the qualities of a product, etc., without actually breaking the law.

Pull Strategy - Used in marketing to create a demand for a product by means of advertising and promoting to the end consumer, rather than through the marketing channel. To 'pull' the product through from distributor to final consumer.

Pump And Dump - The illegal practice of artificially boosting share prices by false and misleading statements in order to sell the originally cheap shares at much higher prices.

Punitive - Inflicting or concerned with punishment, for example punitive taxes, punitive justice.

Punitive Damages - Damages awarded, over and above general damages, by a court of law against a defendant who has committed a malicious act which has resulted in injury to a person or damage to property, in order to deter the defendant from committing similar acts in future.

Purchase Ledger - A record of a company's accounts which shows amounts owed to suppliers for items purchased on credit.

Purchasing Officer - A company employee who is responsible for the purchasing of equipment, materials and services from suppliers and contractors.

Purchasing Power - Also called spending power, the amount of goods or services which can be purchased with a particular currency, or more generally, the amount of money a person or group has available to spend on goods and services. The term may also emphasise a group or organization's ability to achieve heavily discounted prices or rates due to the high buying volumes.

Pure Play - Term that relates to a company which deals in one specific line of business, rather than a range of products, services, etc.

Purveyor - A company or person who supplies provisions, especially food.

Push System - In production, a system in which the demand for goods is predicted by the company, so more goods are made to keep up with pre-set levels rather than customer demand.

Put Option - An option in a contract giving the holder the right to sell shares, materials, etc., at a specified price at, or up to, a fixed date.

Pyramid Selling - A system in which people buy the rights (often a franchise) to sell a company's products to other distributors who have been recruited, who then sell the products on to other recruits. This type of selling often ends up with no final buyer for the products. The few people at the top of the pyramid commonly make a lot more money than the many people at the bottom.

Pyramid Scheme - Illegal in several countries, a scheme in which people are paid for recruiting others who pay a fee, part of which goes to the person who recruited them as a commission. In order to get their payment the recruits then have to find new recruits to pay a fee. This goes on until there is no one left to recruit and the people who come into the scheme last end up losing their money. The difference between Pyramid Selling and a Pyramid Scheme is that is that the latter has no product. (See Ponzi Scheme)


Qualified Opinion - A statement written by an independent auditor which accompanies a business's financial statements, saying that the audit has been limited, e.g., because the auditor may not have been able to collect all the information required to carry out a full audit.

Qualifying Period - The length of time an employee must serve in a job before being entitled to various benefits, or being able to make a claim against unfair dismissal.

Quality - An attribute or level of excellence. The standard of a product, service, etc., as measured against similar products, services, etc. A distinctive characteristic or attribute possessed by someone or something.

Quality Assurance - QA. A system in which the delivery of a service or the quality of a product is maintained to a high standard, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process.

Qualitative - Associated with a thing's quality which cannot be measured, such as feel, image, taste, etc. Describes peoples qualities which cannot be measured, such as knowledge, behaviour, attitude, etc.

Quality Circle - Originating in Japan, a group of workers in a company who meet regularly to discuss ways in which to improve working conditions for employees and productivity for the company.

Quantitive/Quantitative - Related to or measured in numbers. Comparison based on quantity rather than quality.

Quantity Surveyor - In the UK, a professional who works in the construction industry, whose job is to calculate the cost of materials, labour, etc., needed to complete a project.

Quarter Day - In the UK, a fixed day of each quarter of the year on which certain payments, such as rents, are due.

Questionnaire - A form containing a list of research or survey questions for people to answer, so that information can be gathered for analysis

Quorum - The minimum number of people who must attend a meeting in order for valid business to be conducted. The term is from the 15th/16th century and the earliest use of English, specifically from the Latin phrase used at the start of commissions for committee members, "quorum vos ... unum esse volumus," loosely meaning, "of whom we specify that ... be one."

Quota - An official allocation of something, or a limited amount of people allowed. A fixed amount of something, e.g. sales, which must be reached.

Quoted Company - A company whose shares are listed on the Stock Exchange.


R-Value/U-Value - Refers to insulation effectiveness in buildings, and to materials used in construction. Either term may be used. U-Value is the reciprocal of R-Value. The higher the R-Value the better the insulation. The lower the U-Value, the better the insulation.

Race Relations Act - A British government Act, introduced in 1976, making it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their colour, race, nationality or ethnic origin.

Race To The Bottom - A phrase said to be coined by US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. A situation in which competition between nations could result in lower standards, cheaper wages, poorer working conditions, etc.

Racketeer - A person who makes money through illegal business or crime, such as extortion, bribery, fraud, etc.

Rack Rate - The full price of something before discounts have been offered, especially hotel rooms.

R&D - Research and Development. Investigative work carried out by a business to improve and develop products and processes.

Raid - On the Stock Exchange, a situation where an individual or company makes a hostile bid to take over another company by buying a controlling interest in the company's shares.

RAID - R edundant A rray of I ndependent D isks. On a computer, a way of storing data by spreading it across multiple disks, therefore providing greater security, faster access, etc.

Rainmaker - An employee, often an executive, who brings a lot of business and income to a company.

RAM - R andom A ccess M emory. In computing, the place where current data is stored while a computer is being used. The data is removed when the computer is switched off.

Random Sample - Often used in research, a method of sampling members of a large group, such as a population, in which everyone has an equal chance of being selected.

Rank And File - The ordinary members of a group, such as enlisted troops in an army, or members of a union, who have no power.

Rat - Slang term for an informer, or to inform, typically for personal gain. Rat is also a verb, meaning to inform or betray.

Rate of Return - The amount of profit or loss generated by an investment, expressed as a percentage of the total sum invested.

Rate Card - A printed list of charges and details regarding advertising costs on television, radio, websites, newspapers, etc.

Ratify - To sanction formally. Validate an agreement with a vote or signature.

Rating Agency - A company which assesses and rates businesses on their credit-worthiness and/or their ability to repay debts.

Ratings Point - The measure of a size of an audience, i.e., one point equals one per cent of all households watching a television program or listening to a radio station at a particular time.

Ratio Analysis - A study of a company's financial statements which show the relationships between items listed on a balance sheet and gives an indication as to whether the company can meet its current obligations.

Rat Race - The exhausting, competitive struggle and routine of working and living in a large town or city.

Reactive Marketing - Describes when companies or businesses wait for customers to contact them in order to buy their products or services.

Ready-To-Wear - Describes clothing that is produced in standard sizes and designs and sold as finished products in retail outlets.

Real Estate - Also called Realty. Property consisting of land with permanent structures on it, such as buildings, walls, fences, etc.

Real Time - In computing, systems which receive information and update it at the same time.

Ream - 500 sheets of paper. A large quantity of written material.

Rebadge - To change the name , brand or logo of an existing product or business, especially cars.

Reboot - To switch a computer off and restart it again immediately.

Rebrand - Change the name, packaging, etc., of an existing product or business and advertise it as new and improved.

Recall - To ask customers to return a product which they have bought because it has been found to be faulty or dangerous.

Recapitalise - To put more money into a business, often one which is facing bankruptcy. To reorganise a company's capital structure by exchanging preferred stock for bonds, usually to reduce taxes.

Receivables - Shown as assets on a balance sheet, money which is owed to a company by customers who have purchased goods or services on credit.

Receiver - An independent person appointed by a court to manage and control the finances, property, etc., of a bankrupt company, who usually sells the company's assets in order to pay the creditors.

Recession - The decline of the economy of a country (or other region) over a period of time, resulting in increased unemployment, reduced productivity, reduced GDP (Gross Domestic Product), falling household income and livings standards, etc. Different nations and financial institutions, bodies, etc., have different definitions of a recession. Many economists and business commentators use the term very loosely without regard to a particular definition, other than it being a period of economic contraction with related factors. A common official definition at national/governmental level is broadly that a recession is: "Two consecutive quarters (i.e., total 6mths) of 'negative growth' (or contraction or reduction) in GDP (Gross Domestic Product)". Aside from the euphemistically unhelpful term 'negative growth' (used by UK governments notably) this definition of recession is open to debate because it is calculated over such a short period and is therefore very finely balanced. This definition tends to increase instances of 'double-dip' or 'triple-dip' recessions (i.e., two or three recessions in very close succession, according to this particular definition of 'recession') when in fact many such 'ups and downs' may be due to seasonal effects and adjustments rather than being actually different recessions. By more general (and some would say sensible and realistic) definitions of a recession, a 'double-dip' or 'triple dip' recession may instead be plainly and simply one long recession, and is historically seen as such. See recession shapes below.

Recession Shape - A common way to describe a recession , in terms of how the recession appears in a graph of GDP movement over time. 'Shapes' are mostly letter-shapes (V, W, U, etc). Here are the most common recession shapes:

  • V-shaped recession - The simplest shape and basic form of recession, namely a broadly straight-lined angled decline to a trough or lowest point, followed by a relatively quick 'bounce' upwards again in a straight-lined angled rise back to the pre-recession level.
  • U-shaped recession - Like the V-shaped recession but with a longer period at the lowest point. Alternatively called a 'Bathtub Curve' .
  • W-shaped recession - Also called a double-dip recession , essentially characterized by a recession whose recovery is interrupted by a further decline into recession, before final recovery.
  • L-shaped recession - A recession which fails to recover for a very long period, typically ten years or longer, or indefinitely, i.e., pre-recession levels of GDP and GDP growth are not seen again for many decades. Also, where extremely severe an L-shaped recession might more traditionally be called a depression . The Japanese recession of the 1990s is gererally regarded as an example of an L-shaped recession. The recessions in the US and large parts of Europe following the 2007/8 global financial crisis might easily be interpreted as similarly long-term and ominously L-shaped recessions.
  • WW-shaped recession - A recession which lurches from recovery back into recession several times, which given the implication of the need for such a term, contains more ups and downs than a triple-dip recession . As with many of the terms referring to types of recessions, the need for the terminology is produced more by finely balanced definitions of a recession, rather than the ups and downs of economic performance, which are generally happening anyway whether in growth or recession. It's all a matter of degree; i.e., where recessions are defined by very tiny degrees of contraction (as happens in modern times), then 'multiple dip' and convoluted letter-shaped terminology tend to be used more frequently.
  • J-shaped recession - This shape unusually and optimistically refers to a recession which recovers into a boom or period of high growth, i.e., the level of GDP immediately beyond recovery continues to increase strongly and substantially above pre-recesssion levels for a period exceeding the duration of the recession. This sort of recessionary recovery might be fuelled by technology innovation, or discovery and exploitation of new natural resources, etc.
  • Inverted Square Root Sign-shaped recession - Otherwise technically the 'inverted radical symbol-shaped' recession, this term, apparently coined by financier George Soros, is very rarely used, and is included here mainly for curiosity. It refers to an L-shaped recession containing a small bounce (partial initial recovery) before a prolonged or indefinite period of depressed/recessionary-level economic conditions. Confusingly an inverted radical sign, with or without the long horizontal overline, seems not to fit the effect Soros described. A reverse tick or check sign is more apt.

Reciprocal - Loosley meaning 'in return', based on the stricter mathematical sense of the word, found in financial and scientific theories, where reciprocal refers to the number or fraction which when multiplied by a specified other number or fraction will produce the number one. For example a half is the reciprocal of the number two; and a fifth is the reciprocal of the number five. The word derives from Latin 're' (back) and 'pro' (forward).

Reciprocal Trade/Trading - Exchange of product or services. A simple example might be an accountant providing book-keeping services to a telemarketing company which in return performs telemarketing services on behalf of the accountant.

Reciprocity - Based on the notion of mutuality or return in the term 'reciprocal', reciprocity means give-and-take, such as to achieve a mutually agreeable balance.

Recognition Test - Also known as Readership Test. A test carried out after people have read a newspaper, magazine, etc., to see if they have remembered or read a particular advertisement.

Record Date - A date set by a company by which an investor must be recorded as owning shares in order to qualify to receive dividends and be able to vote at a shareholders meeting.

Recorded Delivery - A postal system for which an extra fee is charged in addition to postage. The sender is given a receipt at the time of posting and the recipient signs a form to confirm delivery.

Recruit - To seek employees for a business or organisation. To enlist military personnel.

Red Bag - A UK legal profession tradition in which a red fabric bag, to contain a barister's robes, is presented to a junior lawyer by a Queen's Counsel (QC) for recognition of good work in an important case.

Red-Circling - The practice of protecting the salary of employees whose jobs have been downgraded because of the restructuring, etc., of the company.

Red Ink - Term used when referring to a company's financial loss.

Redundancy - A situation in which an employer intends to cease business, so therefore the workforce lose their jobs, or an employee is made redundant because their job no longer exists in the company they work for. Employees in these situations often qualify for redundancy pay.

Reference - A letter/statement written about a person by someone who knows them, detailing their abilities, character, qualifications, etc., which is sent to a prospective employer.

Refer To Drawer - In the UK, a phrase used by banks when someone's account does not have sufficient funds to clear a cheque which they have written, or the cheque has been written incorrectly.

Registered Capital - Also called Authorised Capital. The maximum value of shares which a company can legally issue.

Registered Company - In the US, a company which has filed an SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) registration, and may issue new shares. In the UK, a company which is listed on the Companies Register as a limited private company, a public limited company, or an unlimited company.

Registered Trademark - A distinctive symbol, name, etc., on a product or company, which is registered and protected by law so it cannot legally be used by anyone else.

Registrar - A person in a company or organisation who is in charge of official records.

Registration Statement - In the US, a legal document containing details about a company's activities, financial status, etc., which must be submitted to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) before the company can issue shares.

Reference Pricing - A very widely used and highly controversial marketing/advertising/promotional tactic, by which a selling company advertises a product (or less commonly a service) at a (usually heavily) discounted price compared to a (typically unfeasibly high) previous selling price, commonly described by the seller as the 'usual' or 'normal' price (the 'reference price'). For (real) example a major supermarket chain advert/packaging offer: "Strawberries - normal price £3.99 - NOW HALF-PRICE AT JUST £1.99!!" when in fact the strawberries were on sale in one branch at the high £3.99 'reference price' for just one week, and the 'reduced' price is available generally and for several months in all other branches (Tesco was fined £300,000 for this breach of trading standards in 2013). The practice of reference pricing when it is a genuine reduction is perfectly legitimate, however in very many situations the tactic is used cynically and misleadingly, particularly in consumer marketing by major retailers, notably in groceries, homeware, electricals, computers, furniture, etc. The domestic furniture/sofa/bed/carpets retail sectors are traditionally deeply committed to reference pricing tactics which commonly breach legal and ethical trading standards. The misleading use of reference pricing is an example of poorly developed and/or inadequately operated Corporate Governance .

Reinsurance - The practice of sharing insurance risk among several insurance companies, in case of major disasters such as floods, hurricanes, etc.

Remunerate - To pay a person for services rendered, goods, losses incurred, etc.

Renewal Notice - An advanced notice of payment required to renew insurance cover, subscription, etc., by a certain date.

Rental Fleet - Cars, vans, etc., which a business leases from a vehicle leasing company for its workers to use, usually sales teams, executives, service engineers, etc.

Reporting Line - In a business or organisation, employees, managers, etc., who report to the next person higher up, usually their boss.

Repossess - To take back property, goods, etc., usually from an individual or organisation who has failed to repay a loan or has defaulted on a repayment plan.

Repudiate - Refusal to perform a contractual duty or repay a debt.

Requisition - An official written request or demand for something.

Rescind - To make void or cancel, for example a law or contract.

Research - The gathering of information, facts, data, etc., about a particular subject.

Reserve Currency - A foreign currency which is permanently held by a country's central bank, and is used for international transactions.

Reserve Price - The lowest fixed price at which a seller will sell an item at auction. If the bidding does not reach the reserve price then the item is not sold unless the highest bidder comes to an arrangement with the seller.

Residual Income - Part of a person's income which is left over after taxes and living expenses, for example mortgage, bills, etc., have been deducted.

Residual Value - Also Called Salvage Value. The market value of an asset which is no longer in use or has reached the end of its useful life.

Resource Allocation - The process of assigning available finances, materials, labour, etc., to a project.

Restitution - Money paid by an offender in compensation for loss, damages or injury. To give something back to its rightful owner.

Restrictive Practice - A trading agreement between businesses or industries which prevents free competition. The practice of workers, often trade unions, of protecting their jobs in a manner which limits the freedom of other workers.

Restriction of Trade - An aspect of business and employment law referring to the unfair/unlawful limiting of a person's right to earn a living, or to pursue a legitimate occupation.

Resume - A written summary of a person's education, employment record, qualifications, etc., which is often submitted with a job application.

Retail Banking - Also called Consumer Banking. Banking services provided directly to the public, such as savings accounts, credit/debit cards, mortgages, etc.

Retailer - A business or individual who sells products or services directly to the customer.

Retail Investor - Also called Small Investor. An individual who buys and sells shares, etc., for themselves, usually in small quantities.

Retail Park - Usually situated on the outskirts of a large town, a large retail development consisting of shops, stores, car parking, and often cinemas and restaurants.

Retail Price Index - RPI. An inflation indicator, usually calculated on a monthly basis, reflected in the retail price of everyday goods, such as food, fuel, fares, etc.

Retail Therapy - Shopping which is done for enjoyment and to relieve stress.

Retained Earnings - The earnings of a business or company which is used for reinvestment, rather than being distributed to shareholders as dividends.

Retained Profits - A business profit, after tax and dividend payments to shareholders, which is retained by the business and often used for reinvestment.

Retainer - A fee paid in advance to someone, such as a lawyer, to engage their services as and when they are required.

Retrench - To cut down on spending, economise, for example to reduce a workforce.

Return On Assets - ROA. Net income divided by total cost or value of assets. The more expensive a company's assets, the less profit the assets will generate.

Return On Capital Employed - ROCE. A company's financial indicator which compares earnings with the company's capital investments.

Return On Investment - ROI. Also known as Rate Of Return. The percentage of profit earned by an investment in a business, etc.

Revenue Stamp - A stamp or sticker which is put on an item, for example a packet of cigarettes, as proof that a government tax has been paid.

Reverse Auction - A type of auction in which there are several sellers and only one buyer. The buyer usually purchases the goods or service from the seller who offers the lowest price.

Reverse Billing - A payment method used for messaging on mobile phones in which the recipient pays for the text message.

Reverse Merger - When a private company acquires the majority of a public company's shares, therefore enabling the private company to get a public listing on the stock exchange.

Revolving Credit - A type of credit agreement, e.g., a credit card, in which a person is given a specified credit limit which can be paid in full or in part, usually on a monthly basis. If the amount owing is paid in full in the first month then usually no interest is charged. When the full credit limit has been reached a payment must be made before the credit card can be used again.

Rider - An attachment which makes amendments or provisions to an original contract or official document. In the entertainment industry, a rider is a list of demands made by a performer, usually before a show, sometimes including particular foods and drinks, hotels and transport, free tickets for friends and family, etc.

Rights Issue - The issuing of new shares which are offered to a company's existing shareholders at a fixed price, usually lower than the market price.

Risk - In business, especially insurance, the amount of money a company stands to lose, or the threat of an action or event which will have an adverse effect on a business.

Roaming - A service which enables a person to connect to the Internet, or use their mobile phone, while they are travelling.

Rogue Trader - A stockbroker who makes unauthorised, usually high risk, trades on behalf of their employer, often resulting in huge losses.

Rolling Contract - A contract which runs for a specific period of time and continues to be renewed for further periods, subject to review.

Roll-On Roll-Off - Ro-Ro. In the UK, describes ferries which vehicles can be driven onto at one end and driven off at the other end on reaching their destination.

Round Lot - Also called Normal Trading Unit. A block of shares, usually 100, which is traded on the Stock Market.

Route 128 - Also known as Yankee Division Highway. A highway encircling Boston , Massachusetts, which is associated with the technology industry.

Router - A device which connects at least two computer networks and sends data from one to the other.

Royalty - A fee paid for the use of another person's property, for example a copyrighted work, a patent, a franchise, etc. A payment made to a writer, composer or singer when a book, CD or performance of their work is sold. A share of the profit paid to the owner of the land which an oil or mining company is leasing.

RSI - R epetitive S train/Stress I njury. Damage caused to hands, arms and neck due to continual computer use, or by repetitive movements while performing a task.

Rubber Cheque - A cheque which bounces, due to insufficient funds in the account of the person who wrote the cheque for it to be cleared by the bank.

Running Cost - The day to day running costs of a business, for example wages, rent, utilities, etc.

Run Of Network - RON. Describes when an advertisement is placed on any page on one or more websites and the advertisers have no say where their advert is placed, usually because the advertising rates are cheaper.

Rush Hour - The peak periods at the beginning and end of the day, usually longer than an hour, when people are travelling to and from work.

Russell 2000 Index - Published by the Russell Company, an index which tracks the performance of 2000 smaller companies in the US.

Rust Belt - Also called The Manufacturing Belt. In the US, an area which contains many old, unmodernised factories, such as steel works, many of which are now closed or not very profitable.


Sabbatical - A period of leave which is granted to an employee, sometimes up to a year, in order for them to study, travel, rest, etc.

Sabotage - To deliberately destroy or damage property, tools, or machinery in order to hinder production. To cause an obstruction to something in order to make it unsuccessful.

Safety Stock - Also called Buffer Stock. Extra stock kept by a company or business in case of extra demand or late deliveries of new stock.

Salami Slicing - The process of carrying out small actions or removing something in very small amounts so that it goes unnoticed, i.e., stealing money.

Salary - An employees wages which are paid on a regular basis for performing their job.

Sale And Leaseback - An arrangement in which property, machinery, etc., is sold to a business or individual, who then immediately leases it back to the seller.

Sale Or Return - An agreement in which unsold goods can be returned to the supplier without the goods having to be paid for.

Sales And Marketing - The business of promoting and selling a company's products or services. The department of a business which carries our these activities.

Sales Conference - A meeting at which members of a company's sales team(s) are brought together to discuss or review ways of marketing the company's products or services.

Sales Ledger - Also known as Accounts Receivable. A company's record of transactions for goods and/or services which have been provided to a customer, and for which money is still owed.

Sales Pitch - A salespersons attempts to persuade a potential customer to buy something, often using demonstration and argument.

Sales Resistance - The refusal of a potential customer to buy a product or service, often as a result of aggressive selling practices.

Sales Tax - Known as VAT (Value Added Tax) in the UK. A tax based on the cost of a product or service which must be paid by the buyer. This tax does not apply to all goods or services.

Salvage Value - Also known as Residual Value. The estimated value of an asset, for example a piece of machinery, which is to be scrapped or removed.

Sandbagging - In a court of law, the practice by a lawyer of not mentioning a possible error which has occurred during a trial in the hope that it goes unnoticed and the lawyer can then use it as a basis for appeal.

Sandwich Course - In the UK, an educational course, sometimes lasting three or four years, which involves alternate periods of study, e.g. at university, and periods of work experience in business or industry.

Scab - A derogatory term for an employee who refuses to join a trade union, or who continues to work during a strike at their workplace. Also describes someone who accepts work or replaces a union worker during a strike.

Scalability - The ability of a computer network, software, etc., to expand and adapt to increased demands of users. A system which can work on a small or large scale according to demand.

Scam - Means of making money by deceit or fraud.

Scarcity Value - A situation where the more scarce an item is, the more its worth.

Schadenfreude - German word derived from Schaden (damage, harm) and Freude (joy). Malicious pleasure derived from the misfortune and suffering of others. Typically felt by individuals with low self-esteem.

Scheme Of Arrangement - In the UK, a legal agreement between a company and its shareholders and/or creditors in which the company will pay what debts it can as an alternative to bankruptcy.

Schism - A split or division in a group into opposing factions, caused by differences of opinion.

Scorched-Earth Policy - A situation in which a company tries to prevent a hostile take-over by selling off its most valuable assets, thereby making the company unattractive to a potential buyer. Derives from a military strategy of 'leaving nothing for the enemy' by burning crops, buildings, etc.

Screen-Based Activity - A task which is carried out using a computer.

Screening Interview - A brief, first interview, sometimes over the phone, with a company looking for potential job applicants. This process weeds out unsuitable applicants, and successful ones go on to the next stage of interviews.

Screensaver - A moving image on a computer screen which appears when there has been no screen activity for a specific time. Screensaver programs were originally used to prevent damage to the screen.

Scrip - A certificate which entitles someone to a parcel of shares. An issue of additional shares given to existing shareholders instead of dividends.

SD Card - S ecure D igital Card. A small memory card used in portable devices such as mobile phones, cameras, etc.

Sealed Bid - A bid to buy an item, or a cost estimate for a contract, which is kept secret in a sealed envelope until all the bids have been received and are opened together.

SEAQ - S tock E xchange A utomated Q uotation system. In the UK, a system used on the London Stock Exchange which continuously updates share prices and shows the information on computer screens around the world.

Search Engine - Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., are examples of Search Engines which locate, list and rank (according to various crietria and unknown algorithms) relevant websites and website content on the Internet when the user types in key words or phrases.

Secondary Action - A sympathy strike. Action which is taken by workers in one industry in support of striking workers in a separate but related industry.

Secondary Boycott - An organised protest to prevent or persuade a company from doing business with another company which is involved in a dispute.

Secondary Market - On the Stock Exchange, the purchasing of shares from another investor rather than from the issuing company.

Secondary Research - Also called Desk Research. The collating and analysis of existing data which has already been collected for another purpose often by an outside source.

Second Generation - Term which describes an improved product, service, etc.

Secretary - A person who works for another person , usually in an office, dealing with correspondence, filing, phone calls and other clerical duties.

Securities and Exchange Commission - SEC. In the US, a government agency which is responsible for protecting investors against fraudulent and dishonest practices in the securities market.

Securities and Futures Authority - SFA. Now part of the Financial Services Authority. In the UK, an organisation which regulates the trading in stocks and shares, bonds, etc., and protects investors against dishonest practices.

Securities Market(s) - Exchange(s) where investments such a stocks and shares, etc., are traded. Traditionally and originally these exchanges were buildings containing traders and brokers, etc., whereas nowadays such trading is conducted virtually using modern communications and IT systems, usually online, so that markets and exchanges are virtual, i.e., existing mostly through connections between people and organizations and systems, rather than necessarily requiring a physical grouping in a building.

Security/Securities - The strict financial meaning of a security is a document that proves ownership of stocks, shares, bonds, etc., or other investments or financial derivatives. More loosely the term securities refers to investments generally, for example in the term 'securities market'.

Security Deposit - A sum a buyer pays, which is not usually refundable, to protect the seller if the buyer does not complete a transaction or if a rented item gets damaged.

Seedcorn - Money or assets set aside by a business in order to generate more profit or benefit in the future.

Seigniorage - Profit made by a government from printing and minting banknotes and coins. The profit being the difference between the cost of issuing the money and the face value of the money.

Selective Attention - Term which applies to consumers who only notice, or are aware of, certain pieces of information in advertisements, etc., because that is the only part in which the consumer is interested.

Self-Actualization - Term introduced by Kurt Goldstein in 1934, describing the need to realise one's full potential, being a basic life force, and later re-interpreted and popularised by Abraham Maslow as the highest order of needs in his Hierarchy of Needs theory .

Self-Employed - A person who earns their income by operating their own business, rather than working for an employer and receiving a salary.

Self-Supporting - Financially independent. Being able to operate without the help of others.

Seller's Market - A situation in which there are more buyers than sellers, often resulting in high prices.

Selling Cost - Costs which are incurred for the advertising and distribution of a product.

Sell Limit Order - An order to a stock broker to sell a specific number of shares at or above a specified price.

Seminar - A business meeting for training purposes or for discussing ideas.

Semi-Skilled - Having or requiring some skills or special training to perform a job, such as operating machinery.

Semi-Structured Interview - An informal method of research in which set questions are asked which allow other questions to be brought up as a result of the interviewees response.

Sensitivity Analysis - Looks at the effects of the performance of a system, project, etc., by changing the variables, such as costs, sales, production, etc.

Sequential Sampling - A sampling method in which an unfixed number of samples are tested and enough data is collected before a decision can be made.

Sequester - Keeping a jury in isolation, under close supervision and away from the public and media, during a trial.

Sequestrate - To legally confiscate someone's property until a debt has been paid.

Serial Bonds - Also called Instalment Bonds. Bonds which are issued on the same date but mature over a period of time, usually at regular intervals, so the issuer can spread the repayment to the investor.

Server - A computer which provides services, such as e-mail, file transfers, etc., to other computers connected to the network.

Service Economy - Part of a country's economy which provides services, such as banking, tourism, education, retail, etc., rather than manufacturing or production.

Service Level Agreement - SLA. A contract, which can be legally binding, between a service supplier and a user, in which the terms of service are specified.

SET - S ecure E lectronic T ransfer. A safe and confidential way of paying for goods which have been purchased over the Internet.

Set-Aside Scheme - Introduced in 1988 in the UK to reduce the overproduction of arable crops. Farmers are paid to keep land fallow rather than use it to grow produce.

Settlement Date - Term used to describe the date by which shares, bonds, etc., must be paid for by the buyer, or a sold asset must be delivered by the seller.

Sex Discrimination Act - In Britain, legislation passed by Parliament in 1975, mainly related to employment in the workplace, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against an individual because of their gender.

Sexism - Discrimination and/or abusive behaviour towards member of the opposite sex.

Sexting - Sending sexually explicit messages and/or pictures by mobile phone.

Shadow - To be with someone in the workplace as they perform their job so that you can learn all about it.

Shadow Economy - Also called Black Economy. Business activities, including illegal activities, which are carried out without government approval or regulations.

Share - Any of the equal units into which a company's capital stock is divided and sold to investors.

Share Buyback - Also known as Stock Repurchase. A situation in which a listed company buys back its own shares from shareholders.

Share Capital - Funds raised by a company from shares sold to investors.

Shareholder - Also called Stockholder. An individual, business or group who legally owns one or more share in a company.

Share Incentive Plan - SIP. A way for employees to invest in the company for which they work. The company gives the employees shares or offers shares for them to buy, enabling the employees to receive some of the company's profit, i.e. in dividends.

Share Index - A list of certain companies share prices, which can be compared on a day to day basis, i.e. showing whether prices have risen or fallen.

Shareware - Copyrighted computer software which is available for a free trial, after which a fee is usually charged if the user requires continued use and support.

Shark - A dishonest business person who cheats and swindles others.

Shark Repellent - Measures taken by a company, such as creating different voting rights concerning shares, or requiring certain shareholders to waive rights to capital gains resulting in a takeover, etc., in an attempt to keep a hostile bid from succeeding.

Shark Watcher - An individual or company who monitors the stock market for another company and warns them of a potential takeover, e.g., if a lot of their shares are being bought by one person or one company.

Shelf Talker - Also known as Shelf Screamer. A sign hung on the edge of a shelf in a shop to attract peoples attention to a product.

Sheriff's Sale - In the US, a forced sale of property ordered by a law court, the proceeds of which settle unpaid debts.

Shoestring - A very tight, barely adequate budget.

Shop Floor - Workers, usually in a factory, as opposed to managers. The area in a factory where production of goods takes place.

Shopping Bot - Also called Price Engine. Computer software which searches the Internet and compares prices from retailers for specific products.

Shop Steward - A member of a Trade Union, usually in a factory, who is elected to represent other members in meetings with management and personnel officers.

Short-change - Give too little change in a cash transaction, and metaphorically meaning to treat someone unfairly or dishonestly, deprive someone of something, or cheat, usually from a position of control or dominance.

Short Covering - The purchase of the same number of shares, bonds, etc. which have been sold short. (See Short Selling)

Short Selling - The sale of shares, etc., which are not owned by the seller but borrowed from a broker, on the understanding that they must be bought back, hopefully at a lower than what they were sold for in order to make a profit, and returned to the broker.

Shoulder Season - In the travel industry, the time between high and low season.

Shovelware - A derogatory term for content which is put directly on to a web page, e.g. from a magazine, etc., without changing its appearance to make it suitable for the Internet. Also refers to pre-installed programs on some computers, which have little value to the user.

Showrooming - emerging in the popular media in 2012 the term 'showrooming' refers to the 21st century practice of shoppers visiting retail stores to inspect/handle/assess products, especially electronic/technology equipment and gadgets, which the shoppers (quite intentionally as part of a buying method) subsequently purchase online, thereby achieving a lower price than offered by the retail store. Increasingly shoppers are able to use smartphones to scan or otherwise check/confirm/record precise product types/codes, etc. On a wide scale, in certain product sectors, the practice undermines the retail store business model, through stock wear/damage, wasted staff time, etc., although product susceptibility varies greatly. Some products, e.g., standardized mass-market goods, are hugely prone, whereas others, e.g., high quality musical instruments and jewellery, hardly at all.The behaviour is extremely common and part of a significantly and globally changing retailing economic system. Showrooming is a factor driving retail exclusivity deals, and notably 'dark store' strategy and development, in which collection warehouses are replacing conventional retail outlets.

Sic - Latin for 'thus; in such a manner', used when quoting a passage to show that the original spelling or grammar, typically incorrect, has been retained.

Sick Building Syndrome - SBS. Ailments, such as headaches, fatigue, nose and throat irritations, etc., experienced by workers or residents in certain buildings, often believed to be caused by poor ventilation, air conditioning, heating, cleaning chemicals, or the materials from which the building has been made.

Sickout - A type of organised strike in which the employees refuse to work by staying away from the workplace and claiming they are ill.

SIG - Special Interest Group. On the Internet, a place where people can discuss and exchange information about a particular subject. A group or organisation whose aim is to influence political decisions by trying to persuade government officials to act or vote in the group's interest.

Sight Unseen - To buy something which has not been available for inspection before the purchase.

Signature Loan - Also called Unsecured Loan or Character Loan. A loan which is not backed by any security, and which only requires the borrowers signature.

Silicon Alley - An area in Manhattan, New York, which is known for its Internet and multi-media companies.

Silicon Valley - An area south of San Francisco, California, which is noted for its computer and high-technology industries.

Silver Bullet - A simple extremely effective solution to a very challenging and serious problem. A metaphor alluding to the mythical method of killing a werewolf or similar monster. See also Magic Bullet, which basically means the same.

Silver Surfer - An older person who uses the Internet.

SIM Card - From the full meaning, Subscriber Identification/Identity Module. A small removable card which stores personal information on a mobile phone or other small personal computerized device. There are other less serious interpretations of the SIM acronym .

Simple Interest - Interest which is calculated on the original amount of money deposited or borrowed, and not on any interest which may have accrued.

Sinecure - A job or position which involves little or no work, but for a which a person is paid.

Single-Entry Bookkeeping - A simple system of recording a company's finances in which transactions are recorded only once in one account.

Sinking Fund - Money set aside on a regular basis by a company, that is used for paying debts, taxes, etc., which are due at a later date.

Sin Tax - A tax on certain goods or services which are considered bad for people, such as cigarettes, alcohol, etc.

Six Sigma - A business strategy, originally developed by Motorola, which strives for perfection in production and quality. See Six Sigma .

Six Thinking Hats - Group dynamics and decision-making concept devised by Dr Edward De Bono, from the book so named, based on De Bono's theory of how people look at things/situations from different perspectives.

SKU - Stock Keeping Unit. A unique number which identifies the price, size, manufacturer, etc., which is assigned to a product by a retail store.

Skunkworks - A production development program in a company which has the freedom to work outside the usual rules, without the restrictions of company procedures and policies.

Sleeper - Something, such as a film, book, share, etc., in which there is little interest but suddenly becomes a success.

Sleeping Partner - Also called Silent Partner. A person who has invested capital in a company but does not take an active part in managing or running it.

Slogan - A catch-phrase used in advertising which is easy to remember so it is associated with a product or company when people hear or see it.

Slush Fund - Also called Slush Money. Funds which are raised and set aside for dishonest or illegal purposes, e.g., for bribing government officials.

Small Claims Court - A UK court in which hearings are generally informal, without jury, for the judgment of civil claims for small amounts of money, and where parties commonly represent themselves instead of hiring a solicitor or lawyer, although legal assistance or representation is permitted.

Small Print - An informal term for contractual terms and conditions which usually appear in very small font size (typically 8-point or less, whereas normal easily readable text is 10-point and over) on the reverse of a more accessible simple presentation of some sort of deal or arrangement into which a customer or user enters with a provider or supplier. 'Small print' is usually characterized by legalese and complex details, and is commonly used in a cunning way by unscrupulous suppliers to trick buyers into signing onerous agreements. The small size of the print became a practical necessity to accommodate the volume of contractual detail included in most legal documents, but has long served an ulterior purpose of ensuring that most contractual 'small print' is never read at all.

Smoke And Mirrors - Term based on a magician's illusions. To cover something up by drawing attention away from it.

SMS - Short Message Service. Allows a text message to be sent from one mobile phone to another.

Snail Mail - Mail which is delivered in the traditional way by postal service, rather than e-mail.

Sneakernet - Humorous term describing the transfer of electronic information, such as computer files, by physically taking the disk, cd, etc., from one computer to another.

Social Enterprise - A business chiefly having positive social and/or environmental aims, in which community and staff tend to feature strongly in priorities, and where profit is a means towards social, environmental or community purposes rather being an aim itself for the enrichment of owners or shareholders.

Social Networking - On the Internet, online communities which are built for people who share interests and activities, or to make and/or contact friends and family, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. The practice of making business and/or social contacts through other people.

Socialism - A belief that a country's wealth should be distributed equally among its population, and to varying extent also that its industries should be under government ownership and control.

Socio-Economic Grouping - The process if identifying and dividing people into groups according to their social, economic and/or educational status.

Soft Loan - Also known as Soft Financing. A loan which has attractive terms for the borrower, such as low or no interest rates and/or a long repayment period, often made by banks to developing countries.

Soft Sell - A subtle, persuasive way of selling a product or service, as opposed to Hard Selling.

Software - A general term for programs, etc., used to operate computers.

Soldier Of Fortune - A mercenary. A person, sometimes ex-military, who is hired to work for another person or country. A freelance fighter.

Sole Trader - Also called Sole Proprietor. A business which is owned and managed by one person who is responsible for any debts which are incurred, keeping their own accounts, etc.

Solvency Margin - The money a business requires in the form of cash or saleable assets, which must exceed the amount needed to pay bills, debts, etc.

Solvent - Having enough funds to pay all your debts.

Sort Code - A number which is assigned to a branch of a bank, found on cheques, bank statements, etc., which enables that particular bank's address to be identified.

Spam - Unsolicited e-mail which is sent to numerous recipients.

Special Commissioners - In the UK, special commissioners are present at appeals concerning disputes between the Inland Revenue and tax payers.

Specialised - To be highly skilled in a particular branch of a profession, occupation, activity, etc. Developed or adapted for a particular job or task.

Special Resolution - In business, a resolution which must be passed by a high majority of a company's shareholders, often 75%, as opposed to an ordinary resolution, which only requires more than 50% of the the vote.

Specimen Signature - An example of a person's signature required by a bank, etc., so that it can be compared with the same person's signature on cheques and documents.

Speculate - To risk investment in property, shares, etc., in the hope of making a profit when selling them.

Spider Food - Key words or phrases which are placed, usually invisibly, on a web page in order to attract search engines.

Spiff - A commission paid by a manufacturer or supplier to encourage salespeople to sell their product rather than a competitors.

Spin - The presentation of news/reports/information by politicians, business-people, etc., (typically cynically, dishonestly, unethically) in a highly positive way, or in a way designed to support a particular position. The term derives from the sense of putting a 'spin' on a story, so as to distort the truth to suit a particular purpose. This entail the use of euphemisms (unreasonably optimistic interpretations) in referring to one's own performance/effects, and dysphemisms (unreasonably negative interpretations) in referring to critics and competitors and their actions, effects, etc.

Spin Doctor - A public relations official or press/media spokesperson, in government or corporate work.

Sponsor - A company or individual who helps to support, usually financially, a team, an event, such as a sports meeting or concert, etc., in return for publicity or to advertise their own company or product.

Spot Check - A random inspection or examination, often with no warning, of a sample of goods or work performance to check for quality.

Spreadsheet - On a computer, a program used for entering, calculating and storing financial or numerical data.

Square Mile - A term used for an area of London in which many financial institutions are based.

Stagflation - A situation in which there is a slow economic growth along with high inflation and high unemployment.

Stakeholder - A person or group, such as shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, etc., with a vested interest in, and can affect the success of, a company or organisation, or successful completion of a project, e.g

Stamp Duty - Called Stamp Tax in the US. A stamp which must be put onto certain documents, contracts, etc., to show that he tax has been paid when property, land, etc., has been sold.

Standing Order - In the UK. an instruction given to a bank to debit a fixed amount of money from an account, usually every month on the same date, to pay a bill, mortgage, etc.

Standing Room Only - A sales technique in which a company or individual selling a product gives the impression that many people wish to buy the product, encouraging people to purchase it immediately in case it sells out and they don't get another chance.

State Benefit - In the UK, money given by the government to people who don't have enough funds to live on and need financial assistance, often because they are unemployed or too ill to work.

State Of The Art - The highest level of development and/or technology applied to a product or service which is currently available.

Statistician - A person who specialises in or works with statistics.

Status Enquiry - In the UK, a request made to a bank asking for a report on a person's financial status, i.e., whether they can repay a loan, mortgage, etc.

Staycation - US term for spending one's vacation at home or near to one's home.

Stealth Marketing - Also known as Buzz Marketing. A method of advertising a product where customers don't realise they are being persuaded to buy something, e.g., people recommending a product on Internet Chat Forums, without others realising that the person actually works for the company or manufacturer selling the product.

Steering Committee - Also called Steering Group. A group of people who are responsible for monitoring a company's operations or project progress, by ensuring it complies with company policies, resources and costs are approved, etc.

Stenographer - A shorthand typist. From Greek: Stenos (narrow) and Graphie (writing)

Sterling - The basic monetary unit of the UK, e.g. the pound.

Stet - Latin for 'let it stand', a term from printing, which extends to proof-reading and copy-checking, editing, etc., to indicate that a word or section marked for deletion (crossed through) within a document or other media is to be retained.

Stevedore - Also called Longshoreman. A person who works on the docks, loading and unloading cargo.

Sticker Shock - A US term for the feeling of surprise or shock experienced by some customers when they see that the price of an item they were thinking of purchasing is much higher than they expected.

Stipend - A fixed, often modest, payment, usually made on a regular basis, to someone, e.g. an apprentice, for living expenses during a training period.

Stock - An investor's share of ownership in a company which entitles them to equity in the company, dividends, voting rights, etc.

Stockbroker - A person or company who buys and sells shares, bonds, etc., on behalf of others, in return for a fee.

Stock Exchange - An organised market place where shares in companies are traded by professional stockbrokers.

Stockholm Syndrome - The effect in which hostage victims form emotional attachment or fondness towards their captors. The Syndrome is named after the 1973 'Norrmalmstorg Robbery' - an armed raid on Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden. The bank's employees were held hostage from 23-28 August, during which time some of the victims became emotionally attached to their captors, even defending them after being freed. The term Stockholm Syndrome was first used by criminologist/psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, when assisting police during the siege, referring to the Syndrome in a news broadcast. It was defined in more detail by psychiatrist Frank Ochberg to aid the management of hostage situations. While Stockholm Syndrome chiefly and originally refers to hostage situations the term extends to other forms of 'traumatic bonding', not necessarily dependent on a hostage situation, more broadly describing the somewhat counter-intuitive tendency among certain folk for strong emotional connections to develop within an abusive relationship. At a slightly milder but nevertheless still very worrying level we see the same principle extending to abusive employment situations and other 'working' relationships, where badly-treated and exploited workers can develop strangely positive feelings towards abusive bosses/employers. Whether driven by fear, dependence, gratitude (for limiting the level of abuse), survival impulse, or various other possible factors, the Stockholm Syndrome remains puzzling and paradoxical at any level, and yet a very real human tendency in certain situations.

Stocktaking - The process of listing all the items, materials or goods which a shop, company, etc., has in stock. An inventory of merchandise.

Stock Ticker - A display which automatically updates and shows the current prices and volumes of traded shares on the Stock Market.

Stop List/Stoplist - Excluded people, organizations, or other items, typically for reasons of disqualification for failing to meet standards or terms stipulated by the organization responsible for the exclusion. This might be customers excluded from a supply by a provider, or people prevented from membership or involvement with an organisation. Often a stoplist refers to customers 'on stop' because of poor credit rating or payment history, and notably payment default. More technically a stoplist may refer the words excluded ('stopwords') in computerized generation of a concordance , which in publishing refers to a detailed cross-referenced index of key words from a text or book or report, etc. Another example might be a schedule of banned substances or ingredients. Basically a stoplist may refer to a roster or schedule of potentially acceptable items/entities/people excluded or barred for reasons of not meeting qualifying standards.

Stop Word/Stopword - A word or term excluded from a word listing or index, notably from a computer-generated concordance in publishing where the exclusion of common words enables time-consuming cross-referencing processes to move faster.

Storyboard - Used in films, TV programs, etc., drawings or photographs which are illustrations of the scenes which are to be shot.

Straight Rebuy - When a business or individual orders the same goods, in the same quantity from the same supplier.

Strapline - A subheading in a newspaper or magazine. A slogan attached to a well known brand.

Strategic Industry - An industry which is considered essential to the economy of a region or country.

Strategic Management - The process of predicting and assessing a company's opportunities and difficulties, and making decisions so the company can achieve its objectives and gain a competitive advantage.

Streisand Effect - The term refers to a situation where something becomes hugely publicized as a result of attempts to keep it private, banned, censored or forbidden. The expression derives from a 2003 legal case brought by entertainer Barbra Streisand to remove an online image of her house in Malibu, California, published innocently in a collection of 12,200 photographs by photographer Kenneth Adelman and, as part of a California State-approved project to record California coast/erosion. The photograph in question, although tagged as 'Streisand Estate' was not visible to search engines as such, and featured several other properties. Streisand's house accounted for 3% of the image. It was not taken with a high definition lens so no great detail could be discerned. Prior to the case the image ('3850') had been viewed six times, which we might safely assume to be mostly or all by Babra Streisand and her representatives. After Streisand's legal action hit the news, image 3850 became extremely famous, was viewed millions of times, and was reproduced widely along with extensive personal details about Barbra Streisand. Later in 2003 the court ruled against and awarded defence costs against Streisand. Integral to the Streisand Effect is embarrassment and loss of reputation for the suppressor. Examples of the Streisand Effect have become far more common in the age of the internet and social media, which together can generate public awareness and keen interest on a global scale in a matter of hours. There are some pre-internet examples of censorship/banning orders fuelling massive publicity and demand, which retrospectively deserve the Streisand Effect term, including several pop music recordings banned by authorities (Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax, for example), and banned books (DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, for example). More recent examples from the internet age include many private injunctions attempted by celebrities attempting to suppress embarrassing news stories, which propel the 'secret' stories onto newspaper front pages very quickly indeed, and go completely wild on the web. Politics, unsurprisingly is full of examples of the Streisand Effect, notably events such US/UK attempts to suppress Edward Snowden's 2013 leaks about US/UK state surveillance; BBC suppression/denial in 2012 of the Saville child abuse scandal story; and the exposure of J K Rowling as the author behind pseudonym Robert Galbraith's book The Cuckoo's Calling. The term Streisand Effect is said to have been coined and initially popularized by Mike Masnick of Techdirt in January 2005.

Stress/Stress Management - Area of study and corporate/employer responsibility relating to workers' health, well-being , productivity. See stress management .

Stress Puppy - A person who seems to thrive on stress, but is always complaining about it.

Strike - A work stoppage caused by a disagreement between employees and management over working conditions, pay etc.

Strike-Breaker - A person who continues to work, or is employed to work, during a strike.

Structural Engineer - A professional who researches, plans and designs structures, such as buildings, bridges, etc.

Subcontract - To hire someone to carry out some of the work that you have been contracted to do.

Sub Judice - Term used when a legal case is currently under trial or is being considered by a judge, and any information about the case must not be disclosed to the public.

Subordinate - Someone who is lower in rank than another person, and is subject to the authority of a manager, etc. Less important.

Subliminal Advertising - An illegal form of advertising. An image which is flashed onto a screen, usually for about one second, or a message played at low volume, that can influence the person watching or listening but they are not aware of what they have seen and/or heard.

Subpoena - An official summons which requires a witness to attend a court case and testify at a specific time and place. Failure to do so may result in them being punished for contempt of court.

Subrogation - The right of an insurer, who has paid out a claim to an injured party, to sue the person, company, etc., who caused the injury.

Succession Planning - The process of identifying suitable employees who can be trained and prepared to replace senior staff when their positions become vacant.

Summons - An official document which orders a person to appear in court to answer a complaint against them.

Sunk Cost - A company's past expenditures which cannot be recovered, and should not be taken into account when planning future projects.

Sunset Provision - Also called Sunset Clause. A provision which states that a particular law or regulation will expire on a certain date unless further action is taken to extend it.

Superannuation - A pension, for which regular sums are deducted from a person's salary while they are working, which is paid by an employer when the person retires from their job.

Supertax - Also called Surtax. An additional tax on something already taxed, e.g. an income above a certain level.

Supply And Demand - Supply is the amount of a product or service which is available, and demand is the amount which people wish to buy. When demand is higher than supply prices usually rise, when demand is less than supply prices usually fall.

Supply Chain - A chain through which a product passes from raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, retailing, etc., until it reaches the end consumer.

Surface Mail - Mail which is transported over land or sea, not by air.

Sweat Equity - Term used to describe a person's investment in a project, etc., by the contribution of their time and effort, rather than their money.

Sweatshop - A place, often a clothing factory, where people work long hours in poor conditions for low wages.

Sweetheart Deal - An agreement or contract which offers very favourable deals to one or both parties, but is often not in the best interest of others, such as shareholders.

SWIFT - Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. Founded in Brussels in 1973, a system for transmitting payments, share transactions and other financial messages safely between financial institutions all over the world.

Sychophant - A servile person or follower, not necessarily of low rank, who tries to please a (more) powerful or influential person by using flattery, and often by informing on others, from which the word is derived in its original Greek meaning (sykophantes is ancient Greek for informer).

Symposium - A meeting or conference at which experts discuss a particular topic, often with audience participation.

Synergy - The working together of two or more individuals, groups, companies, etc., to produce a greater effect than working individually.

Synod - A church council or leadership assembly of clergy, also possibly including the laity ('lay-ity', meaning lay or non-professional members). The term 'The Synod' typically applies to the most senior council of a church, or less definitively may refer to a local diocese or church division. In English prior to 1121 (Chambers says) the word was 'synoth', and derives from Greek via Latin, synodos and synodus meaning a meeting or assembly, or conjunction of the planets, from Greek syn, together, and hodos, way.


Table d'Hote - Technically 'table d'hôte' - a food menu which offers a full meal with set courses and limited choices at a fixed price, from French 'host's table'.

Tachograph - A device which is fitted to vehicles, especially commercial vehicles, which records the speed, distance and time travelled.

Tag - A word or words assigned to or associated with electronic data, usually on a website, to aid searching, finding, analysis, display, organization, etc., of the data. Used as a verb also, for example, to tag or tagging articles, content, etc., when posted onto a website.

Tag Line - A memorable slogan or catch phrase used in advertising.

Tailor-Made - Adapted or made for a particular purpose or individual.

Take-Home Pay - The amount of money received by an employee after deductions, such as tax, insurance, etc.

Takeover - The purchase of one company by another.

Takeover Bid - A bid made by an organisation or individual to acquire a company, usually by offering to purchase the shares of the company's shareholders.

Takeover Panel - A panel set up in certain countries to ensure that all company takeovers comply with laws and regulations, and that all shareholders are treated equally and fairly.

Tangible Asset - Physical assets, such as machinery, buildings, vehicles, cash, etc., which are owned by a company or individual.

Tare - The weight of packaging used in wrapping and protecting goods which is deducted from the total weight of a product in order to ascertain the actual weight of the goods. The deduction in weight of a vehicle used to transport goods in order to determine the actual weight of the goods.

Target Audience - The specific group of people that an advertisement, product, TV program, etc., is aimed at.

Target Company - A company that another company or organisation wants to acquire.

Target Market - A specific group of people with similar characteristics, needs, lifestyle, etc., at which a company markets its products or services.

Tariff - A government tax on imported and exported goods.

Task Force - A group of people formed to work on a particular project or assignment.

Tax - A fee imposed by a government on personal or corporate income, products, services, etc., in order to raise revenue to pay for public services.

Tax Abatement - Also known as a Tax Holiday. An exemption or reduction of taxes by a government for certain companies for a specific period of time, often as an incentive for industrial development.

Tax Allowance - The amount of income that can be earned or received in one year before tax has to be paid.

Tax Avoidance - Legal ways of paying the minimum amount of tax possible by making use of allowances and exemptions.

Tax Bracket - Based on income levels, the higher the income the higher the tax bracket, therefore people earning more money have to pay a higher rate of tax on the part of their income which is below the lower tax bracket allowance.

Tax Evasion - Illegally avoidng paying tax, usually by making a false declaration of income.

Tax Exile - A person or business who chooses to leave a country to reside or operate in another country, usually called a Tax Haven, where taxes are much lower or there aren't any.

Tax Lien - The right of a tax authority to claim assets belonging to a company or individual who default on tax payments.

T-Commerce - Television Commerce. The purchasing and selling of products and services using interactive television.

Team Player - A person in any type of profession who works well as a member of a team.

Teaser Ad - A brief advertisement which reveals only a little bit of information about a product, usually not yet available, in order to arouse widespread interest.

Teaser Rate - A low rate of interest, for example on a mortgage, loan, credit card, etc., which is below the going market rate and available for only a short period of time in order to attract borrowers.

Techie - A person who is very knowledgable, or an expert, in technology, especially computing.

Technical Analyst - A stock market analyst who uses charts and computer programs to study investments in order to predict the future of share prices, etc.

Technical Support - A service provided by the vendor of technology products, such as computers, mobile phones, televisions, etc., which the purchaser can use if they need help using the product.

Telecommunications - Known informally as Telecoms. Communicating over long distances by telephone, e-mail, etc.

Teleconference - A conference involving two or more people at different locations, using telecommunications equipment, such as computers, video, telephone, etc.

Telemarketing - Also known as Telesales. The selling of goods or services by contacting potential customers by telephone.

Teleworking - An arrangement in which the employee works at home and contacts their office or workplace by telephone or computer.

Tenant - An individual or business who pays a fee for the use of land, property, etc., to the owner. An occupant.

Tenant At Will - A tenant who continues to rent land, property, etc., past the expiration of the lease. Also a tenant who rents property without a written lease, therefore they can be forced to leave without notice from the owner.

Tender Offer - An offer, usually above the market price, made to the shareholders of a company by another company or individual as part of a takeover bid.

Term Assurance - A form of life insurance which pays out a lump sum if the policyholder dies within a fixed period of time.

Terms Of Reference - A document which describes the objectives, scope and purpose of a project, committee, meeting, etc. See 'agree specification/terms of reference' in the project management section. Separately the acronym BOSCARDET provides a useful example structure for TOR headings/sections: Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates, Timescales. Note that this particular structure has no specific heading for costs/budgets, and so care must be taken to include these considerations, logically within ''Constraints' or 'Estimates'. There is no standard universal structure for a Terms of Reference document because the situations vary widely in which TOR are used. Responsibility lies with the project manager or leader to ensure all relevant and necessary issues are included in TOR. Local interpretation often produces TOR headings and document structure which may be unique to the particular situation. Where an organization oversees many projects/activities requiring Terms of Reference documents it is likely that organizational 'standard' TOR formats are used. Obviously it makes sense to follow such standards where they apply, mindful of the risks of omission, over-complexity, or unnecessary work, which can arise from routinely applying a standard structure.

Terrestrial - Term used to describe broadcasting systems, such as television, which operate on land, rather than from a satellite.

Tertiary Industry - Third sector of a country's economy which covers the provision of services, such as transport, schools, financial services, etc., rather than manufacturing or production.

Test Case - Term used to describe a court case which establishes legal rights and serves as a precedent for future similar cases.

Test Market - In marketing, a product or service which is tested in a particular area of the country before it is launched nationally.

Text Message - A written message sent from one mobile phone to another.

Text-To-Speech - Describes the converting of text into audible speech on a computer by using speech synthesis techniques.

Theory Of Constraints - Theory originally developed by Dr Eliyahu Goldratt, which states that every organisation must have at least one constraint that should be overcome by recognising and dealing with the cause of the 'bottleneck', thus enabling the company to achieve its goals.

Theory X - Developed by Douglas McGregor in the 1960s, a theory which states that most people in the workplace do not enjoy work and will take every opportunity to avoid doing their job because they are lazy and need to be closely supervised, threatened and disciplined by management.

Theory Y - Developed by Douglas McGregor. The opposite to Theory X, a method of managing people in the workplace based on the idea that most workers enjoy their job, are self-motivated and want responsibility, and the managers role is to help the workers realise their full potential by giving them more responsibility, including them in decision-making, etc.

Theory Z - A Japanese management style based on the theory, developed by William Ouchi, that workers like to build relationships with other workers and management, to feel secure in their jobs, develop skills through training, and have their family life and traditions valued.

Think Tank - A group or organisation which researches and advises on issues relating to technology, economy, politics and social strategy.

Third-Generation - 3G. Describes wireless technology which has been developed to send messages and data over networks using mobile phones, computers, etc.

Third Line Forcing - A situation which occurs when a supplier will only sell a product or service to a customer on condition that it is purchased from a third party nominated by the supplier.

Third Party - A person or organisation not principally involved with the other two parties but who has an interest in an agreement or contract. In an insurance policy, the third party is the person whose car, etc is damaged by you in an accident.

Third Sector - Part of a country's economy which is non-profitmaking, such as voluntary work, charities, etc.

Third World - Refers to poor, underdeveloped nations in South Africa, Asia and South America.

Thrift - In the US, a savings or loan association. The practice of not spending too much money or using up too many resources.

Ticker Symbol - In the US, a set of characters, usually letters, used to identify a particular share on the Stock Exchange.

Tied Agent - A sales agent or business who represents or sells and/or offers advice only on one company's products, such as insurance.

Time and a Half - Rate of pay which is 50% more than the regular rate, usually for overtime work.

Time and Motion Study - The study and analysis of a specific job within an organisation, the results of which are used to improve efficiency and production.

Timeshare - A lease on a (usually holiday) property jointly owned by several people who have the right to use it during agreed times of the year, usually for one or two weeks. The industry is often associated with high-pressure or unethical selling methods.

Title Deed - A legal document which proves a person's rights of ownership of property or land.

Tokenism - The practice of doing the minimum required, especially by law, by making small token gestures, such as employing or including a single person who represents a minority or ethnic group.

Toolbar - On a computer screen, a set of icons or symbols, usually under the menu bar, which allow you to perform different tasks on your computer, such as print documents, change font size, use a paintbrush , etc.

Top Brass - The most important people in a company or organisation.

Top Dog - The person who has the highest authority and is in charge of a whole operation, business, etc.

Top Dollar - The very highest price paid for a product, service, worker, etc.

Top-Heavy - Describes a company or business which has too many managers and/or administrators in comparison to the number of workers.

Top-Level Domain - TLD. The last part of a domain address on the Internet, for example .com (commerce), .gov (government), etc.

Tort - A wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, which is not criminal but harmful to another person, against which legal action for damages may be taken.

Total Costs - In business, the costs of manufacturing, overheads, administration, etc. - i.e., the sum of fixed costs and variable costs. In investments, the price paid for a share, security, etc., plus brokerage fees, taxes, interest due to the seller, etc.

Total Quality Management - TQM. A company management system which seeks to improve the quality of products and services and to improve customer satisfaction by giving everyone in the organisation the responsibility of achieving and keeping high standards.

Touch Base - To make contact, usually managers who want to communicate with their staff.

Trade - The buying and selling or exchange of goods and services. The buying and selling of shares on the Stock Market. A skilled occupation such as builder, carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc.

Trade Agreement - An agreement, usually between countries, to limit or change their policies when trading with one another.

Trade Descriptions Act - In the UK, a 1968 Act of Parliament which prevents misrepresentation of goods and services to customers by manufacturers, retailers or service providers.

Trademark - TM. A symbol, logo, word or phrase which is used exclusively by a company, individual, etc., so their products or services can be easily identified, A Trademark cannot legally be used by anyone else.

Trade Name/Trading Name - See also Business Name, which is loosely interchangeable. These are vague terms and care needs to be taken if deciding serious matters based on interpretation. Precise interpretation may depend local state/national company law definitions. Generally business names and trade/trading names may be registered and licensed. A lot depends on the interpretation of the term 'Business name' which could refer to a legal/parent/holding company, or merely to a branded product or division. A trade name could be a brand or a division or branded operation/service within/of a (legally titled) business. Avoid applying a strict definition to these terms, and if there are serious implications then seek expert local clarification, or a ruling from your legal department/advisor.

Trade Secret - A secret device or formula used by a company in the manufacturing of a product which gives it an advantage over the competition.

Trade War - A conflict between countries in which each country puts up trade barriers in order to restrict or damage the others trade.

Trading Floor - An area of a Stock Exchange where dealers trade in stocks, shares, etc.

Trailblazer - An innovator or pioneer. An individual or company who is the first to do or discover something, and leads where others follow.

Tranche - Describes part of a loan, investment, etc., which is a portion of the whole amount.

Transfer Deed - Also called Deed Of Transfer. A legal document which shows that the ownership of property, land, etc., has been changed from its legal owner to another party who now legally owns it.

Transnational - Multinational. Refers to businesses, organisations, etc., which operate in or between several countries.

Treasurer - A person in a company, organisation, club, etc., who is responsible for the management of funds and accounts.

Treasury Bond - In the US, a long term security issued by the government which pays regular interest.

Trial Offer - A temporary offer by a company usually aimed at first-time buyers in which a customer can try a product or service free or at discounted rates for a short period of time.

Triple-dip Recession - A recession during which there is are two brief periods of economic growth, each followed by a slide back into recession, before final recovery. See recession shapes .

Troubleshoot - To identify and solve problems which arise in the workplace.

Trustafarian - An informal term for a wealthy young person, who gives the appearance of being unemployed and living a Bohemian lifestyle in less than comfortable circumstances, but who is living off a trust fund.

Trustbuster - A government agent whose job is to break up monopolies or corporate trusts under the anti-trust laws.

Trustee - An individual or organisation who is legally responsible for managing the financial affairs or another person or company.

Trust Fund - Property or funds which are legally held in control of a trustee on behalf of an individual or organisation.

Truth In Lending Act - In the US, a law which protects consumers by requiring companies which offer loans, credit and charge cards, etc., to disclose full information regarding terms and interest rates.

Turd Polishing - Australian equivalent of not being able to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear. An engineering term for fixing the defects in a product, process, system, etc., then repeating as new defects appear, rather than re-engineering it with fewer defects.

Turntablist - A person who uses vinyl records, a turntable of a record player and a DJ mixer all together as an instrument to create sounds.

Tycoon - A wealthy, prominent, successful business person, also referred to as a mogul, magnate, baron ,etc.

Tyre Kicker - A person who appears to be interested in purchasing an item, especially a secondhand car, but has no intention of buying it.


U-Value - Buildings and construction industry term referring to insulation effectiveness of materials. See R-Value/U-Value .

Ultra Vires - Latin for 'Beyond The Powers'. Legal term which refers to actions or deeds, especially performed by a corporation, that exceed official powers.

Unanimous - A complete agreement on a decision or opinion by everyone in a group.

Unauthorised - Without official endorsement or permission.

Unbundling - Dividing a company into separate companies, usually after a takeover, in order to sell some or all of the subsidiaries. Supplying a product, service or equipment in separate components.

Uncalled Capital - The value of shares which have been issued by a company but which have not yet been paid for by the shareholders.

Unconsolidated - Describes subsidiary companies whose financial statements, shares, etc., are not included in the parent company's finances.

Uncontested - Without opposition or competition. A lawsuit which is not disputed by the person against whom it has been filed.

Undercut - To sell a product, service, etc., cheaper than the competition.

Undermanned - Describes a company, business, etc., which does not have enough workers to function properly. Understaffed.

Undershoot - To fall short of reaching a goal or target.

Undersubscribed - When a product, service, etc., is not being bought by enough people.

Underwriter - A person who assesses the risk and eligibility of an insurance company's potential client. On the Stock Market, an organisation, such as a bank, that agrees to purchase any unsold shares which are offered for sale by a company.

Undischarged Bankrupt - A person who has officially been declared bankrupt but has not yet been given permission to start another business, and must not stop paying debts which are still owed.

Unearned Income - Personal income which has not come from employment but from investments, dividends, interest, etc.

Unemployment - An economic situation in which jobless people, often those who have been made redundant from their jobs, are actively seeking employment.

Unfair Dismissal - Term used when a person's employment is terminated by their employer without a good reason.

Unfavourable Trade Balance - Describes when a country's value of its imports exceeds the value of its exports.

Unhappy Camper - Someone who has complaints about their employers. An unsatisfied customer.

Unilateral - Performed by one person, group, side, party, etc - basically 'going alone'. For example a unilateral decision is one made without dependence or condition upon others who might have interests in the matter in question. See Bilateral and Multilateral .

Unilateral Contract - A one-sided agreement in which one party promises to do something (or refrain from doing something) in return for an action, not a promise, from a second party.

Unique Visitor - Describes a person who visits a website, as one unit, even if they have made several visits to the same site in a particular period of time, usually 24 hours.

Unit Trust - A fund which raises money from a number of investors, usually investing only a small amount each, which is then invested on their behalf by a fund manager in a range of shares, securities, bonds, etc.

Unlimited Company - In the UK, a company whose owners have unlimited liability, e.g. if the company goes into liquidation the owners are required to raise the funds to pay the company's debts.

Unlimited Liability - The obligation of a company's owners or partners to pay all the company's debts, even if personal assets have to be used.

Unlisted - Refers to company whose shares are not traded on the Stock Exchange.

Unofficial Strike - Also known as a Wildcat Strike. A form of industrial action which does not have the approval or permission of a trade union.

Unregulated - Not governed or controlled by laws or rules.

Unsolicited - Not requested or invited, for example junk mail.

Unsystematic Risk - Also called Residual Risk. The risk that can affect a company's share prices, production, etc., such as a sudden strike by employees.

Unzip - On a computer, to return files to their original size after they have been compressed.

UPC - U niversal P roduct C ode. A bar code, using thick and thin vertical lines, which is printed on labels, packets, etc., to identify a specific product, and is used for stock control.

Upload - To transfer data or programs from a smaller computer, camera, etc., or a computer at a remote location, to a larger computer system.

Upselling - A sales technique in which the salesperson tries to persuade the customer to purchase more expensive and/or more goods than they originally intended.

Uptick - Also called Plus Tick. On the Stock Market, a transaction or quote at a price above the preceding transaction for the same security.

Uptime - The period of time which a computer, piece of machinery, etc., is operational and available for use.

Upwardly Mobile - Describes someone who is moving towards a higher social and/or economic position.

Urban Regeneration - Also called Urban Renewal, the redevelopment of run-down parts of a towns or cities, to include business and housing projects, typically funding by governments or agencies.

URL - Uniform/Universal Resource Locator - The address of a web page on the Internet.

Usance - In international trade, the period of time allowed, which varies between countries, for the payment of a bill of exchange.

USB - Universal Serial Bus - A device on a computer which is used for connecting other devices, such as telephones, scanners, printers, etc. Bus is derived from busbar, a metal conductor strip within a switchboard.

User Friendly - Easy to learn or use by people who are not experts.

Username - In computing, refers to the name that uniquely identifies the person using a computer system or program and is usually used with a password.

USP - Unique Selling Point/Proposition. The key feature of a product or service which makes it stand out from the competition.

Utopia/Utopian - An imaginery society or world or situation which is ideal and everyone has everything they want, from the highly revered English statesman, scholar, lawyer and writer, Sir Thomas More's 1516 century book Utopia, whose full Latin title loosely translates to mean 'On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia'. The opposite term Dystopia, was devised two centuries later.


Vacancy - A job opening which is offered by a company that wants to hire an employee. An available room in a hotel.

Vacancy Rate - The percentage of unoccupied rental space or units, e.g hotel rooms, compared to total available rental area at a given time.

Vanity Publishing - The author pays the publisher.

Valid - Legally or formally acceptable or binding. Unexpired, e.g. a passport.

Value-Added Reseller - VAR. A company which purchases a product and modifies or enhances it before reselling it to the consumer. This practice is common in the computer industry.

Value Engineering - In manufacturing, a method of producing a product at the lowest price but without sacrificing quality, safety, etc., and at the same time meeting the customers needs.

Valued Policy - An insurance policy in which the insurer agrees to pay a claim for a specified amount in the event of loss, damage, etc., for items insured, such as works of art.

Value Investor - An investor who buys shares, etc., which they believe to be underpriced, in order to make a profit by selling them when they price rises.

Value Share - A share, etc., which is considered to be underpriced and is therefore a good investment prospect.

Vanilla - Plain and ordinary without any extras. Basic.

Vapourware - Term used to describe computer software which is advertised before it has been, and may never be, developed, often to damage sales of a competitor's product which has already been launched.

Variable Cost - In business, costs which vary according to the changes in activity, production, etc. of the company, such as overheads, labour and material costs.

VAT - V alue A dded T ax. A tax paid by consumers which is added to the price of certain goods and services.

VDU - Vi sual/Video D isplay U nit. A computer screen or monitor which displays text and/or pictures.

Vendee - A person or business who buys goods, property, etc.,

Vendor - A person or business who sells goods, property, etc.

Venture Capital - Money invested in a new business which is expected to make a lot of profit but which also involves considerable risk.

Verbal Judo - The use of voice tone and body language to diffuse a potentially aggressive or violent situation without being confrontational. Described as Tactical Communications, Verbal Judo was developed in 1983 by American literary professor, martial arts expert and later serving policeman, Dr George ('Doc Rhino') Thompson, initially for the US police. Verbal Judo has since become a more widely applicable training program for handling conflict for all sectors, alongside the popularity of Thompson's books, notably Verbal Judo (1993) and the Verbal Judo Institute.

Vertical Disintegration - A situation in which a company that previously produced parts and materials is now buying them from other suppliers.

Vertical Equity - A concept of economic fairness, for example people who are better off should contribute more taxes than those who are less well off.

Vertical Integration - A situation in which a company acquires one or more of the companies which are involved in the production or distribution processes of its goods/services, for example a brewer which buys a pub chain, or a clothing retailer which buys a knitwear factory.

Vertical Market/Vertical Sector - or vertical market sector - Often shortened to 'vertical' - this refers to an industrial activity or trade comprising producers, manufacturers, makers, providers and users, etc - basically the supply chain or all the linked purchasers - of the same products/services, for example media, coal production, healthcare, automotive, education, retail, etc. Imagine a bar chart in which each vertical bar is an industry; or imagine a series of vertical lines, each one connecting suppliers and customers in a supply chain for a single industry. A sub-section of a vertical market sector, such as car magazines (within the media vertical), or private schools (within education), or shoe-shops (within retail) is typically called a niche or a niche market. Often used with the term Horizontal Sector , these two structural ways (vertical and horizontal) of viewing the entire market-place form a matrix. The nature of this matrix and the horizontal and vertical sectors within it mean that every niche (for example office cleaning services, or a manufacturer of nuts and bolts, or dentistry practices, or anything else you might imagine) is both a part of a vertical sector and a horizontal sector. The application of 'vertical' or 'horizontal' terminology depends often on the situation and context, and especially who is selling/marketing what to whom, (or who is acquiring whom). For example a supplier of IT services which is selling to the automotive vertical would refer, again for example, to 'vertical marketing'; to the 'vertical market'; the automotive 'vertical', etc. A supplier of IT services which sells to finance departments across several verticals (i.e., industries, e.g., automotive, media, local government, education, etc) would instead refer to selling or marketing 'horizontally' (to different verticals), and having a 'horizontal' strategy. And to illustrate the switchable nature of the matrix, an automotive supplier which sells/markets to IT organizations would refer to the IT 'vertical market', as would any other seller targeting the IT 'vertical'. (N.B. I have mentioned 'education' and 'local government' above, which are wholly/largely/partly considered as state/public services activities. Traditionally such sectors are not regarded as involved in marketing or selling, but actually increasingly such 'providers' can easily be represented as sellers or marketers or providers of products/services, albeit in a figurative sense. As such it is perfectly possible and reasonable to show such sectors as being sellers/providers of products/services to vertical sectors and even to horizontal sectors, should the need arise; and we should expect over time for the nature of horizontal/vertical marketing terminology - and other marketing terminology - to become increasingly widely applicable and inclusive. Every type of organization is both a 'supplier' and a 'customer' of some sort.)

Vested Interest - When an individual, business or group has a special interest in something, such as property, an activity, etc., from which there is a personal or financial gain.

Veto - Latin for 'I Forbid'. To vote against. The right to block a law, etc.

Vexatious Litigant - A person or party who regularly brings unsustainable lawsuits against another party in order to harass or annoy them.

Viable - Capable of being done or working successfully.

Vicarious Liability - Having legal responsibility for the actions of another, e.g. the liabilty of an organisation for the actions of its employees.

Vigorish - A slang term, also abbreviated to vig, for the commission or fee charged by a bookmaker or casino on a wager. Also the interest on a loan from a loan shark or unregulated loan provider. The term is Yiddish (Jewish) deriving from the Russian word vyigrysh, meaning winnings.

Viral Marketing - Also known as Word Of Mouth. An advertising and marketing technique which encourages people to pass on information about a product, etc., often by e-mail or from one Internet website to another.

Virtual Memory - On a computer, a technique of simulating additional memory by moving data between the computers memory and a hard disk.

Virtual Reality - An artificial three-dimentional (3-D) image or experience, created by a computer, and which seems real to the person looking at it.

Virus - A computer program with a hidden code, designed to infect a computer without the owners knowledge, and which causes harm to the computer or destroys data, etc.

Vocation - An occupation for which a person is strongly suited and/or to which they are dedicated.

Vocational - Relating to an occupation for which a person has undergone special training or has special skills.

Voice-Over - A presenter or actor in a TV commercial or program who is heard but who is not seen on the screen.

Voice Recognition - Technology which allows computers, mobile phones, etc., to be operated by being spoken to.

Void - A contract, agreement, document, etc., which is no longer valid or legal.

Voluntary Bankruptcy - A situation in which a debtor voluntary files for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their creditors.

Voluntary Liquidation - A situation where the owners/directors of a solvent company decide to cease business, sell the company's assets and pay all the creditors.

Vote Of No Confidence - A vote which shows that the majority of those voting have lost confidence in something, usually a government.

Voting Shares - Called Voting Stock in the US. A company share which gives the shareholder the right to vote on matters regarding company policy, etc.


Wage Differential - The difference in wage rates between different types of worker, often those with similar jobs but who work in different regions of a country, have different skills, hours of work, etc.

Wage Drift - A situation when basic rates of pay are not as high as levels of wages actually paid. This is often because of increases in overtime, bonuses, profit share, etc.

Wage Slave - Someone whose is totally dependent on the wages they earn.

Waiver - A formal statement in which someone gives up a right or privilege.

Walk Back The Cat - A metaphor for troubleshooting. When something goes wrong, the situation is analysed in chronological order to find out when the problem happened and why, and correct mistakes so they don't happen again. Like when a cat unravels a ball of string and you have to rewind the twisted yarn to find the flaw.

Walking Papers - Also called Walking Ticket. A notification of dismissal from a job.

Wall Street - A street in Lower Manhattan where the New York Stock Exchange and financial centre is situated.

WAN - W ide A rea N etwork. A communications network which covers a wide area of a region or country, connecting computers, phones, etc.

WAP - W ireless A pplication P rotocol. An open network communications system which enables information to be sent between hand-held devices such as mobile phones, pagers, etc.

Warrant - A certificate which entitles the holder to buy a specific number of shares at a fixed price within a specified period of time. A legal document issued by a court of law authorising the police to make an arrest, search premises, etc.

Watchdog - A person or organisation that monitors the practices of companies to ensure they are nor acting illegally.

Watch List - A list of investments being monitored because they are showing signs of unusual activity, often because the companies who own the shares may be takeover targets.

WATS - W ide A rea T elecommunications S ervice. In the US and Canada, a long distance telephone service which provides discounted calls for companies that place large volumes of long distance telephone calls.

Wayzgoose - A traditional August outing or party for printers, typically around St Bartholomwe's Day, 24th August, marking the end of summer, when work by candlelight began each year. The term persisted in the print industry in more general use referring to a company party, although its use is now rare since large-scale automation and workforce reduction.

Webinar - Web-based seminar. A meeting, conference, etc., which is transmitted over the Internet, with each participant using their own computer to connect to the other participants.

Webmaster - A person who is responsible for maintaining a website.

Webzine - An electronic magazine which is published on the Internet.

Weighbridge - Known as a Weigh Station in the US. A vehicle weighing system which consists of a metal plate set into a road which vehicles, usually trucks with loads, are driven onto to be weighed to check if they are overladen.

Weighting - An allowance paid to workers who live in certain areas of the country, such as London, to compensate for higher living costs.

Well-being/wellbeing/well being - Significant term and consideration concerning personal health and happiness in the workplace, with implications for performance, quality, organizational effectiveness and profitability. Well-being, and specifically the promotion and strategic improvement of personal well-being in the workplace, is a major extension of earlier principles and issues of stress and stress management. See workplace well-being .

Wet Lease - An arrangement in which an airline leases an aircraft, complete with crew, insurance, etc., to another company, usually for a short period of time.

Wheeling And Dealing - Making a profit, sometimes dishonestly, buy buying and selling things, or acting as a go-between for two parties.

What if?.. Scenarios/Modelling - 'What If?..' Scenarios or Modelling is a form of planning. 'What If?..' is a vague and general term covering methods of predictive or creative forecasting, in which scenarios or hypothetical situations are developed, almost always by extending or extrapolating an existing or historical situation. 'What If?..' methods in planning and problem-solving commonly seek to identify and predict new events and factors which arise in addition to what may be easily assumed from basic extrapolation, and therefore entail quite a high degree of creative and imaginative input. 'What If?..' planning may be organized with computerised systems, or may be mapped in more basic pen-and-paper terms. Effective 'What If?..' methods will often involve brainstorming of one sort or another.

Whistleblower/Whistle-blower - A person who informs the public (usually via websites or news media) and/or relevant authorities (watchdogs, government, ombudsman, standards body, etc) about wrong-doings, failings, corruption, or other illegal activities within an organization. The wrong actions might be of a colleague, superior, workgroup, or any number of individuals working in the organization, or otherwise working with the organization. Often the wrong-doing is directly or indirectly a consequence of inadequate corporate governance . Typically, but not essentially, the whistleblower is or was employed by the organization concerned, or becomes quickly unemployed or at least suspended. Following a few high profile cases in the late 1900s when whistleblowers were wrongfully dismissed and persecuted and/or subject to legal action by their employers, laws were introduced (UK Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) to increase protections and safeguards for whistleblowers. Similar safeguards have been enacted in different laws internationally, although legislation is often inconsistent; adherence among employers is patchy, and enforcement by governments is patchy too. Not all whistleblowing is rightly motivated - some can be vengeful, inaccurate, or otherwise unjustified, although the term 'whistleblowing' is generally considered to refer to justified reporting/publicizing of clearly seriously wrong and usually illegal organizational activities. Famous examples of whistleblowing cases include scandals in major industries such as banking, oil, mining, and media, involving some of the world's biggest corporations, as well as in government and state agencies.

White Collar - Refers to employees who work in offices or business rather than manual workers.

White Collar Crime - An illegal act such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, etc., committed by a worker in business or administrative function.

White Goods - Large domestic electrical appliances, such as cookers, washing machines, fridges, etc.

White Knight - A company, individual, etc., who offers favourable terms in a takeover, usually saving the acquired company from a hostile takeover.

White Paper - An explanatory document produced by a political group or government or business or other organization. Originally a white paper (early 1900s UK) was a governmental document which explained and justified a matter of law or legislation which was shortly to be introduced for debate and parliamentary vote. A white paper is highly persuasive by nature - it 'sells' a particular proposition or change using (in print) debating techniques, evidence, statistics, cause-and-effect arguments, facts and figures, etc., so as to build a convincing case aimed at securing the approval of represented interests or an affected/targeted audience. White papers tend to contain elevated and technical language and to adopt an official tone, so as to appear expert, wise and authoritative. Not surprisingly therefore sometime towards the late 1900s commercial organizations began adopting the white paper concept/instrument as a marketing tool, as a means of introducing a topic to an audience in a way that reflects a sense of importance and authority on the subject and advocating (selling) body, and which seeks to minimize challenge, objection, etc., and maximize and accelarate acceptance and support. There is often an educational aspect, and a need/opportunity to convince influential opinion-formers and commentators, media, etc The commercial purpose is similar to the political purpose, and there may be overlap anyway since many big commercial issues are also political too. In governmental situations a white paper is often preceded by a green paper , which by nature is less firm and specific and is more of a discussion document, but which is nevertheless usually formulated with a particular outcome or poposition in mind. Precise meanings vary in different parts of the world for these terms and caution/clarification is recommended, especially in non-government situations, where people use the terminology vaguely.

White Van Man - A derogatory term for drivers of white commercial vans, who have a reputation for driving recklessly and intimidating car drivers by driving about three inches from their rear bumper.

Wholesale - The sale of goods in large quantities, usually to retailers who then sell them for a profit.

Wholesale Bank - A bank which provides services to large organisations, financial institutions, etc., rather than individual customers.

Widget - A small program which is run by certain computers. A small device, switch, gadget, etc., whose name is not known.

Wi-Fi - Wi reless Fi delity. A wireless technology which enables computers, mobile phones, video games, etc., to be operated by using radio frequency.

Windfall - A sudden, unexpected sum of money or piece of good fortune received by someone.

Wind Farm - A large area of land, which has strong winds, on which a group of wind turbines are placed in order to produce electricity by driving generators.

Win-Win - Describes a situation or arrangement in which all parties benefit or profit.

Without Prejudice - Written on a document in legal proceedings, negotiations, etc., meaning that any information contained in the document does not affect the legal rights of a party involved in a dispute.

Without Recourse - A legal term written on a bill of exchange which signifies that the buyer accepts the risk of non-payment from a third party, rather than the seller.

With Profits - Describes an insurance policy which pays the sum assured plus any bonuses which may have accumulated over the term of the policy.

Workaholic - A person who is addicted to work.

Working Capital - Also known as Net Current Assets. The amount of funds which are available to a company for everyday running costs, such as wages, rent, etc.

Work In Progress - Also called Work In Process. Work on a product, contract, etc., that a company has invested in but is not yet completed. A piece of music, art, etc., which is unfinished but may be available for viewing or listening.

Working Time Directive - Rules set by the European Union which limits the maximum number of hours in a working week, the minimum amount of annual leave and the minimum amount of rest period in a working day to which an employee is entitled.

Work Permit - A legal document which gives a person a right to employment in certain foreign countries.

World Economic Forum - WEF. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, an non-profit, international organisation which brings together politicians, business and education leaders from all over the world to discuss ways to improve economic and social growth, health and environment issues, etc.

World Trade Organisation - WTO. An international organisation, established in 1995, with more than 150 member nations, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The WTO monitors international trade, helping importers and exporters conduct their business, and provides assistance to developing countries.

World Wide Web - WWW. Also known as The Web, a computer network system in which documents are inter-linked using hypertext computer code, and allows information to be accessed using the Internet.

Wow Factor - The instant appeal of a product, property, etc., which impresses and surprises people the first time they see it.

Wrap - The end of a film shoot when everything is finished, the set can be taken down and everyone can go.

Writ - A written order issued by a court of law which orders someone to do, or not do, something.

Write-Off - In accounting, to reduce the book value of an asset, sometimes to zero, or cancel a debt which has not been, or is unlikely to be, paid.

Write-Protect - In computing, protect the data on a disk or file from being accidentally deleted or edited.

Writ Of Execution - A court order which ensures that a judgement is enforced.


X-Efficiency - A concept introduced by economist Harvey Liebenstein. A company's ability to use its workers, machines, technology, etc., to produce maximum output at lowest cost and as quickly as possible.

Xenology - The scientific study and/or research of alien cultures and biology.

Xerox Machine - A piece of equipment which makes paper copies of documents, etc.

X-Inefficiency - When a company is not using its employees, machinery, resources, etc., effectively, often because of lack of competition.

Xylography - The art of engraving an image on a block of wood, or printing from woodblocks.


Yarnstorming - Also called yarnbombing, an intriguingly specialised type of peaceful demonstration and activism in which objects such as works of art, sculpture, railings, phone boxes, considered unattractive by the activists, are covered by knitting or crochet, usually at night, and mainly by young women.

Yellow Pages - A telephone directory, usually printed on yellow paper, which lists businesses, organisations, retailers, etc., in alphabetical order in categories according to the service they provide.

Yellow Sheets - Published every day in the US by the National Quotation Bureau, a list which shows information and prices of corporate bonds.

Yeoman - A servant or attendant in a royal or noble household.

Yield - The annual income earned from an investment, usually expressed as a percentage of the sum invested.

Youth Court - A court of law, which members of the public are not allowed to attend, that deals with juvenile (under 18 years of age) offenders.

Yuppie - Derives from Young Urban Professional. Term used since the 1980s to describe a young person who has a well-paid job and an affluent lifestyle.


Zero-Based Budgeting - ZBB. A system in which a yearly budget for a department in a company starts at zero with no pre-authorised funds, and the department has to justify its budget requests.

Zero-Rated - Describes goods or services on which the buyer pays no value-added-tax.

Zero-Sum Game - A situation in which what is lost by one person, company, etc., is matched by a gain by another/others. Used in economics and Game Theory to describe the relatively simple 'strictly competitive' situation whereby all the losses and gains balance each other to zero. Potential gains are finite; what is gained by one must be lost by another, and vice-versa.

Zip - In computing, compressing data to make a file smaller in order for it to be stored or sent to another computer. Also, slang for nothing.

Z-Score - Developed by Dr Edward Altman of New York University in the 1960s, a measurement of the financial health of a company which predicts the probability of the company going bankrupt.

Please send your suggestions for additional terms, and any corrections.

See Also

marketing theory and methods - including marketing glossary

sales and selling methods - including selling glossary

business planning process and templates - including business planning glossary

financial terms and ratios - a glossary of main financial accounting terms