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

By Joshua Glenn and Mark Kingwell

"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).

><

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/10/new-job-slang-a-21st-century-guide-to-the-words-we-use-at-work/246559/