New Job Slang: A 21st-Century Guide to the Words We Use at Work

"The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office." -- Robert Frost

***

Alaskans have more than 100 words for snow, as legend has it. So it's only appropriate that Americans, who work longer hours with fewer paid breaks than almost any other developed country, would have hundreds of words for working. Or, not working. In our current crisis, consider the panoply of terms for being let go from work: there are layoffs, furloughs, firings, redundancies, non-renewals, partings, breaks, and, finally, funemployment. It's exhausting just to count the synonyms.

Enter The Wage Slave's Glossary, a fun dictionary of modern office idioms and new economy jargon by Joshua Glenn, Mark Kingwell, and the cartoonist Seth. The authors have kindly allowed The Atlantic to publish a word for each letter, from Ant-ification to Zero drag. The words in the gallery below -- one for each letter -- fit into three categories. First, there are new words coined for our peculiar moment of both hard work and no work ("gigonomics"). Second, some words you know get the historical treatment ("career" initially referred to a circular racetrack, which seems appropriate). Third, words borrowed from our friends overseas help to illuminate office life ("datsu-sara" from Japan: to quit a boring job).

>

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In