Friday, January 4, 2013

FYI: 10 Phrases for Business English

Originally posted on the

10 Phrases for Business English

a heads up:
A warning or notice: “I just wanted to give you a heads up that the meeting time has been changed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.” The phrase has its origins in soldiers hiding behind a hill or in dugouts from the enemy, cautiously raising their heads to survey the terrain.

in the dumps:
depressed, used for both people and money: “The markets have been in the dumps for the past week.”

to take in a nose dive:
To fall sharply, as in a swimmer taking a high and head-first dive into a pool. “The markets took a nose dive today.”

the scuttlebutt:
Gossip or rumor in an office situation. A scuttlebutt was the cask around which sailors would gather to drink fresh water during the day and trade information, the equivalent of today’s water cooler in an office setting.

a pink slip:
The notice, traditionally pink, given to an employee and serving as notice that his or her job is in danger of being eliminated.

a positive spin:
To interpret a story or fact in a specific manner. “The boss tried to put a positive on Mary’s leaving, but it is very disheartening.” This expression comes from spinning, the art of weaving threads together to create cloth.

to downsize:
To shrink, become smaller. Individuals “downsize” or move to smaller homes, usually after children are grown. Companies downsize when they lay off employees and sell holdings, due to financial losses.

on the job market:
To be actively looking for work. Job seekers are seen as a “market” from which potential employers choose, and an individual looking for a job becomes part of this market.

in the black:
To be profitable, taking in more money than spent. From accounting, where traditionally positive income is shown in black ink.

in the red:
To be losing money, spending more than taking in. Again from accounting, where expenditures are shown in red ink. Also used in expressions like “There was red ink all over the books” or “The books were flowing in red ink,” to show the financial crisis in a company.