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

The Man Who Owns 40,000 Video Games

A short documentary about an Austrian gamer with an uncommon obsession

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

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Business

Just In