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Cruz, Jeremiah

Legal Writing
Special Section 1A
Business Gobbledygook
Core Competency - This awful expression refers to a firms or a persons fundamental strength - even
though thats not what the word competent means.
Buy-In - Agreement on a course of action, if the most disingenuous kind.
S.W.A.T. Team - In law enforcement, this term refers to teams of fit men and women who put
themselves in danger to keep people safe. In business, it means a group of experts assembled to solve
a problem or tackle an opportunity.
Swim Lane - A specific responsibility within a business organization.
Empower - What someone above your pay grade does when, apparently, they would like you to do a job
of some importance. It suggests that You can do a little bit of this, but still in charge in a specific task.
Drinking the Kool-Aid - A tasteless reference to the Jonestown Massacre of 1978, this expression means
to blindly accept something, such as a companys mission statement. Robotic allegiance is bad
enough; coming up with tactless expressions for it is horrendous.
Move the Needle - This beauty, which has nothing to do with heroin, is a favorite of venture capitalists.
If something doesn't move the needle, meaning that it doesnt generate a reaction (like, positive cash
flow), they don't like it much. You could just say, specifically, how your plan and product are superior to
your competitors.
Open the Kimono - Some people use this instead of revealing information.
Bleeding Edge - Someone decided that his product or service was so cutting-edge that a new term
needed to be created. It did not. Unless you are inventing a revolutionary bladed weapon, leave this one
Tiger Teams - Remember S.W.A.T. Team? This is worse. A tiger team is also a group of experts -
specifically a bunch of tech geeks entrusted with curing your computer ills.
Burning Platform - means impending crisis. Better: Were in big trouble.
Lots of Moving Parts - Pinball machines have lots of moving parts. Many of them buzz and clank and
induce migraine headaches. Do you want your business to run, or even appear to run, like a pinball
machine? Then do not say it involves lots of moving parts.
Corporate Values - This expression is so suffused with phoniness it churns the stomach. Corporations
dont have values, the people who run them do.
Make Hay - means being productive or successful in a short period of time. The phrase to make hay is
short for make hay while the sun shines, which can be traced to John Heywards The Proverbs,
Epigrams and Miscellanies of John Heywood (circa 1562).
Scalable - A scalable business or activity refers to one that requires little additional effort or cost for
each unit of output it generates. Example: Making software is a scalable business (building it requires
lots of effort up front; distributing a million copies over the Web is relatively painless).
Best Practice - Refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared with other
methods and techniques. It is also perhaps the single most pompous confection the consulting industry
has ever dreamed up.
Think Outside the Box - To approach a business problem in an unconventional fashion. Kudos to a reader who suggested: "Forget the box, just think."
Ducks in a Row - The saying apparently comes from the earlier days of bowling before machines set pins
automatically. One needed to get his ducks in a row before hurling a weighty ball down the alley.
Better: At work, make a plan; then later, if youd like, go bowling.
Ecosystem - The vast, interlinked collection of designers, vendors, manufacturers, customers that
defines a particular industry. Unless your business is aquaculture, stop using this pretentious expression.
Solution - This word has come to mean everything from the traditional way to solve a mathematical
proof to a suite of efficiency-enhancing software - and it is the epitome of lingual laziness. Says Glen
Turpin, a communications consultant: "It usually refers to a collection of technologies too abstract or
complex to describe in a way that anyone would care about if they were explained in plain English."
Leverage - The granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs. Leverage is mercilessly used to describe how
a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled. Leverage should remain a noun, as in to
apply leverage, not as a pseudo-verb, as in we are leveraging our assets.
Vertical - A specific area of expertise. If you make project-management software for the manufacturing
industry (as opposed to the retail industry), you might say, We serve the manufacturing vertical. In so
saying, you would make everyone around you flee the conversation.
Over the Wall - If you're not wielding a grappling hook, avoid this meaningless expression. It apparently
means to send something to the client.
Full Service - If you don't work at a gas station, please dont use this expression.
Drill Down - A phrase often wielded by superiors wanting a subject examined more closely.
It is What it Is It is what it is.
Robust - Often used to suggest a product or service with a virtually endless capacity to please. A cup of
good coffee should carry this adjective. And thats about it.
Take Offline - An equally absurd variation of lets put this on the backburner. This means to postpone
addressing an issue - one that may have nothing to do with the Internet. Unless youre talking about
removing your companys Facebook page, youre probably not taking anything offline.
Synergize - This word has infiltrated nearly every cube and conference room in the country. Blame
Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. (No. 6 is Synergize.) Of this habit, Covey
writes, "To put it simply, synergy means two heads are better than one." The same advice was preached
several decades earlier on the hit show Sesame Street. Big Bird called it "cooperation."
Learnings - Simply say: "I learned a lesson from that project."
Boil the Ocean - This means to waste time. The thinking here is that boiling the ocean would take a long
time. It would also take a long time to fly to Jupiter, but you don't say that. Nor should you boil oceans,
even the Arctic, which is the smallest. It would be a waste of time.
Reach Out - means lets set up a meeting or lets contact this person.
Hard Stop - An executive with a "hard stop" at 3 p.m. is serious about ending the meaning at 3 p.m. Very
serious and also very important - or at least that's how it comes off. It sounds like This meeting isn't
really that important, so I need a way to get out of it.
Punt - In football, to punt means to willingly (if regretfully) kick the ball to the other team to control
your teams position on the field. In business it means to give up on an idea, or to make it less of a
priority at the moment.
Impact - This wannabe verb came to prominence, says Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black's Law
Dictionary, because most people don't understand the difference between the words "affect" and
"effect." Rather than risk mixing them up, they say, "We will impact our competitor's sales with this new
product." A tip: "Affect" is most commonly a verb, "effect" a noun. For instance: When you affect my
thinking, you may have an effect on my actions.
Giving 110% - The nice thing about effort, in terms of measuring it, is that the most you can give is
everything, and everything equals 100%. You cant give more than that, unless you can make two or
more of yourself on the spot, in which case you have a very interesting talent indeed. To tell someone to
give more than 100% is to also tell them that you failed second-grade math.
Body of Work - A high-nosed way of summarizing the total output of an industry or company. Stop
trying so hard and just say product line, or some such.
Let's Talk That - For some troubled souls this phrase takes the place of "let's discuss that," or "let's talk
about that."
Price Point - "Come on, seriously, why say 'price point'?" begs Duncan Phillips, an account executive at
The Hodges Partnership, a communications firm in Richmond, Va. Just say price!
Take it to the Next Level - In theory this means to make something better. In practice, it means nothing,
mainly because nobody knows what the next level actually looks like and thus whether or not theyve
reached it.
Cut and Dry - Unless youre talking about carpentry, eschew this hackneyed turn of phrase.
Out of Pocket - Many auto-reply e-mails now carry the phrase: "I'm 'out of pocket' until next week."
Mark Daly, an account manager at the Davies Murphy Group, a marketing firm, astutely observes:
"Expenses come out of pockets, quarterbacks come out of the pocket, but Johnny, well he'll just be plain
unavailable or out of the office."
Window of Opportunity - This breezy expression refers to the amount of time, usually brief, in which to
take action; when the window shuts, dreams of freedom die. Or at least take action.
Low-Hanging Fruit - Youd rather not have to climb the tree to get your apple, so you curb your hunger
by picking the low-hanging ones. Same goes for business tasks and opportunities. Except that no one
knows which tasks and opportunities youre talking about, or whether ticking them off, easy as that
sounds, is a good idea in the first place.
Peel the Onion - This means to delve into a problem, one layer at a time, to thoroughly understand
whats causing all the trouble. As metaphors go, there are worse. But like the actual vegetable, this over-
used expression brings tears to the eye.

Political Gobbledygook
Apparachik - One who can always be counted on to repeat the party line with great gusto.
Axis of Evil - A term coined by George Bush in 2001, it refers to the (at the time) terrorist supporting
nations of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.
Big Lie - The theory that the electorate will buy any falsehood, presuming it is large enough. Term
originally coined by Hitler.
Blacklist - Usually used as a political term, this means to deny something to someone (most commonly
employment) based on their presence on a certain list. The most famous blacklistings were during the
late forties and early fifties of people suspected of Communist and Soviet influence. More recent uses
have arisen regarding internet spam and airline watch lists.
Blue State - A state generally thought to vote for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.
Boondoggle - An unnecessary or wasteful project, sometimes done merely for appearances. Often refers
to a government-funded project with no purpose other than political patronage.
Bull Moose - This was originally the nickname for the first Progressive Party (under Teddy Roosevelt).
Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey - Derogatory term for the French, this term originally sprang from the
Groudskeeper Willie character on the Simpsons in the mid 90s, but history kept it around as a
permanent slur.
Civil Society - Often cited as a goal for Iraq, this term is commonly used to mean all of the civil
infrastructure of a Western Liberal state, democracy, trial by jury, rule of law, etc.
Czar - From the Russian Czar, which was from the Roman Caesar. It is intended to refer to the person
who is in charge of a general policy, instead of a specific federal agency.
Divine Right - This term generally refers to kings and other royalty. Essentially it posits that God wants
Kings to do whatever it is they're doing at the time, otherwise, why else would that person be king?
Dog and Pony Show - An extravagant affair that does not answer any questions about some current
Double Dissolution - In a government with a bicameral legislature (2 units) a double dissolution involves
dissolving or disbanding both legislatures at the same time and holding new elections at the same time.
Down Ticket Races - These are political races that are not at the highest level possible. For example, a
congressional race would be considered a down ticket race if there was also a presidential race. If the
mayor was being decided, then a city council seat would be a down ticket race.
Draconian - The term refers to the laws of Draco, a 7th-century Athenian statesman and lawmaker,
whose code of laws prescribed death for almost every offence. This term is used to describes a bill, laws,
measures or punishments that threaten freedom and liberties, will usually have the effect of killing the
bill or rescinding acts/laws.
Usage: The legislation proposes some of the most draconian and anti-democratic measures.
Edifice Complex - The tendency of politicians to have large buildings and stadiums built as a concrete
reminder of their "Legacy".
Faithless Elector - This is a voter in the electoral college, who votes against his state's popular vote.
Extremely rare.
Note - this does not apply to states that split up their electoral vote proportionately.
False Flag - While this can be applied to many areas, it is generally applied to politics. The term means to
have a friendly party masquerade as an unfriendly person. The recent semi-scandal of a Republican
operative asking softball questions while touted as a member of the White House press corps is the
current example.
Figurehead - This term refers to a very public, but powerless leader. It comes from the ancient Greek
tradition of putting fearsome Gods, sea creatures, et al on the front of their warships to give the crew
confidence in their ship.
Gender Feminists - A derogatory term for those who think that there is something qualitatively different
about women that needs via legal and social means. Put more simply, it holds that women are
inherently victimized by men.
Great Man Theory - Originally coined by Thomas Carlyle, this is the though that everything for good or ill
is the creation of a few effective people. Different to take seriously but very common.
Kool Aid drinkers - People so committed to a political cause or candidate that they senselessly ignore
facts in conflict with their political viewpoint.
Lame Duck - An office holder is considered a lame duck after announcing retirement or being defeated
for re-election. Furthermore, governing bodies have lame duck sessions, which is the time between an
election and the end of current officials' terms. This is the time when they are considered the most
Mandate - This term generally refers to the size of the victory. The notion behind Mandate is that a
given politician has been charged by the electorate to carry out his agenda. Everyone always claims they
have a Mandate.
Margin of Error - Put simply, if you do the same polls, you will get the same results 95 times out of 100
within a certain percentage, that percentage is the margin of error.
Muckraker - Someone who locates and distributes unfavorable information about politicians, companies
or celebrities.
Newspeak - This term arose in George Orwell's 1984. It is the bland word that replaces a harsher one.
War become "police action", and problems become "issues".
NGO - Non Government Organization. Global organizations whose activities range from charity to
lobbying to agitation. While they are not part of any government, they often do government functions.
Party Line - The official stance or position of any organization. It is usually thought of as political, but it
does not have to be a political organization.
POTUS - An abbreviation for President of the United States
Power Behind the Throne - Indicates the real decision maker in a given power structure. This term
arises from the start of the reign of Czar Peter the Great of Russia in the 1680s. Due to strange quirks of
history Peter started as a co-czar with his half-brother Ivan V, with his sister Sophia as regent. She had a
throne behind the two brothers and supposedly would whisper advice to them, hence the name of this
Quisling - Traitor, it derives from Vidkun Quisling. He ran Norway after the Germans seized it WWII. He
met his end by firing squad at the end of the war. Supposedly capital punishment was reintroduced (it
had been banned) to deal with him. The equivalent of the American Term Benadict Arnold.
Reagan Democrat - A media term referring to blue collar voters who are thought to vote for Democratic
presidential candidates but who actually vote for Republicans due to their conservative social views.
Red State - A state generally thought to vote for the Republican candidate in presidential elections.
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul - Taking money from an out of favor interest group to give to an in-favor
interest group.
SCOTUS - Supreme Court of the United States
Show Trial - Common under Stalin and Hitler, these were highly publicized trials that were against state
SOTU - The annual American State of the Union speech.
SONA - State of the Nation Address
Southern Strategy - Originally a reference to Nixon's plan to win over white blue collar voters in the
South, this is now taken to mean any particular rhetoric a candidate uses in a Southern State during
campaign season, the South being "Different" in some way in the eyes of the media.
Sphere of Influence - An area dominated by a particular county, either economically, militarily or
politically. Most of the former Soviet Union is said to be inside the Russian Sphere of influence today.
Strategic Ambiguity - One side being deliberately vague on a policy so as to preserve their options. Also
known as having it both ways.
Tall Poppy Syndrome - A situation that occurs when politicians develop superiority complexes and that
the view and contributions of others can be disregarded.
The term originates with the observation that a tall poppy can be safely cut down.
Throwing The Hat Into The Ring - To launch a political campaign.
Turn Coat - Someone who supports both sides in a conflict in order to find out information.
Useful Idiots - Originally coined by Vladimir Lenin shortly after the Russian Revolution, it refers to
wealthy Westerners who favored the Bolsheviks in their revolution. It is usually followed by "The
capitalists will sell us the rope we will use to hang them."
Velvet Divorce - This term refers to splitting of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and the Slovak
Republic in the early 90s, one of the few peaceful political divorces in history.
Whitelist - Usually used as a political term, this means to admit someone entry based on their presence
on a certain list. Thought not as commonly used as the term blacklist, it can often be used to streamline
admission process, usually in airports.
Witch Hunt - Generally it refers to any controversial and emotional endeavor where tensions are high
on both sides. It was used most commonly by opponents of McCarthy's efforts in the fifties.
Gaffe pronounced (Gaf), the term for a faux pas or a socially inadequate statement or mention. As in:
Since assuming the position as chief of the party, the leader has made a series of gaffes that have made
the headlines.
Media Firestorm a lot of coverage, mostly antagonistic, from the media which usually includes a
demand for a response from the part(ie_ or entities involved. As in: After the taped recorded
conversation of the candidate using that slur was released, he came under a media firestorm and had to
answer to all of the questions being lobbed in his direction.
Spin can be used as a verb or noun, a favorable perspective or slant to an item of news, or potentially
unpopular policy. As in: After a controversy erupts and the media gets a hold of it, there is a right and
wrong way to spin it to your advantage.
Stakeholders groups or constituencies that stand to gain or lose under a certain political initiative, law,
rule, or agenda.
Tsunami a term for a wave of political victories where one particular party takes over the incumbent
seats represented by an opposing power in office. As in: There is a predicted and anticipated political
tsunami that is set to take place following the mid-term elections.

Technical Gobbledygook
404 - means I haven't a clue. Originally a technical term for Not Found 404 (which is an error message
seen on a Web page to indicate a requested URL was not found on a server), in slang to say "404" is to
imply someone is clueless.
411 means Information, also known as text message shorthand, used primarily in texting, online chat,
instant messaging, email, blogs, and newsgroup postings, as in "Have you got the 411 on that?"
86 - Out of, over, to get rid of, or kicked out. The origin of this expression comes from the restaurant
industry as it is the code on the computers to signify the restaurant has "run out of" a particular dish.
age - Actually it is "-age" which is a suffix used in slang to exaggerate a word and give it much larger
meaning. For example, "Where's the foodage?" means "I'm really hungry." Similarly, "major lossage"
indicates a big failure.
back button - One of the buttons at the top of a Web browser. By clicking on it, you "go back" to the
previous Web page. Sometimes, this feature does not work in frames, but besides that, it's one of the
greatest inventions since e-mail.
bandwidth - you may hear bandwidth described as the amount of time it takes for a Web page to fully
load. Even though this notion is widely used, it is fundamentally incorrect. You will also hear bandwidth
refer to the amount of traffic on a Web site, but again this is actually not accurate. One reason why
these ideas proliferate is because Internet users refer to larger graphics as "bandwidth hogs," meaning
they take up so much room that the download is very slow.
In real life, the term bandwidth has made it's way into mainstream slang. It is often heard around the
office to describe tech exec's inability to think about or do multiple things at once, as in, "I don't have
the bandwidth to deal with your request right now." If a person is described as having "low bandwidth,"
it means he or she is considered slow on the uptake.
biobreak - An office friendly way of saying that one needs to take a bathroom break.
brain dump - To empty one's brain of any and all information relating to a particular subject. For
example, "He just got back from COMDEX, I'm going to schedule a noon brain dump so we can all get up
to speed at the same time."
cached out - Slang for extremely tired, as in, "wiped out."
cookies - a.k.a. a cookie -or- cookie technology. A funny name for a noun that describes a small piece of
information about you (about your computer, actually). It is a small file that a Web server automatically
sends to your PC when you browse certain Web sites. Cookies are stored as text files on your hard drive
so servers can access them when you return to Web sites you've visited before.
Cookies contain information that identifies each user, for example: login or username, passwords,
shopping cart information, preferences, and so on. When a user revisits a Web site, his or her computer
automatically "serves up" the cookie, which establishes the user's identity, thus eliminating the need for
the customer to reenter the information. The server needs to know this information in order for the
Web site to work correctly, and the information is nothing more than a string of letters and numbers.
cryptic - Primarily used as slang, it refers to anything that is hard to read. For example, "Can you believe
his handwriting? It's so cryptic, even he can't read it."
This term also refers to gremlins and other plain text anomalies that sometimes occur when words are
transferred from one computer program to another.
dead-tree version - a.k.a. forestware -or- tree version -or- treeware. Slang for a printed document or
publication, as opposed to an electronic version.
deep dive - Slang for exploring a subject in-depth. For example, "We did a deep dive on that market and
found nothing of value there."
defrag - short for: defragmentation. To optimize your hard drive, usually with a program that "cleans it
up" and makes it run as smoothly as possible. Slang usage implies some much needed R&R, as in, "I'm
not going out tonight. I just want to have a quiet drink at home and defrag."
delete - To remove a file or erase information.
down time - This expression refers to lost production time due to a broken machine and its operator
being unable to work. In modern usage, it refers to a slow network, or to the time a person needs to
relax and recoup after hard work. For example, "I finished the project on Thursday and headed to Napa
Valley for a long weekend and some major down time."
eye candy - Slang for extra graphics (or images) included on a Web page with the intent of making it
look better. It turns out, however, that too much eye candy on a Web site usually makes it look worse.
As in, "that site has way too much eye candy going on." The auditory equivalent is "ear candy."
Google - Like many great Internet terms, Google has morphed into many usages, including:
"Did you Google him" - meaning did you run a search on a potential blind date, for example, to find out
more about him;
"I got Googled" - meaning someone ran a search on you to find out more about you;
"Have you Googled it" - meaning have you run a search on a product or item;
"Google it" - meaning run a search on it.
hot spot - In the world of IT this term refers to places that have wireless Internet connections. Many
national and local retailers, especially coffee shops, are adding wireless hot spots to provide the tech-
savvy another reason to stop in and spend some money and some time.
huge pipes - Slang for a high-bandwidth Internet connection.
interface - In a general sense, it is the portion of a program that interacts between a user and an
application, meaning it is what you see on the computer screen. It usually refers to "user interface,"
which consists of the set of operating system commands, graphical display formats, and other features
designed for use on a computer or a program.
A "graphical user interface" (GUI pronounced: goo-ey) provides users with a picture-oriented user-
friendly way to see what is on a computer system. A "programming interface" consists of the set of
statements, functions, options, and other ways of expressing program instructions and data. In this way,
an interface is also thought of as a special point of entry into the software or operating system, where
programmers can work on the actual code underlying everything.
Another definition of interface is the actual connection between two applications or two hardware
devices, that facilitates the exchange of data. "To interface" is to make an appropriate physical
connection between two pieces of hardware so that the equipment can communicate or work together
effectively. The word has permeated into mainstream culture; as a verb "to interface" means to
communicate with another person or object, as in "Did you see those two interface with each other?"
just-in-time (JIT) - Traditionally, this phrase describes a compiler that turns Java bytecode, for example,
into instructions that can be sent directly to a processor.
Just-in-time also refers to the hottest link in the business supply chain. The concept is to keep a
company's inventory to an absolute minimum. Parts and raw materials are delivered by suppliers to
manufacturers at the precise moment they're needed. In turn, manufacturers produce and deliver their
products to their customers just-in-time to be sold. In this sense, just-in-time refers to just-in-time
techniques, such as inventory control, supplier relationships, quality control, and the like. The shining
example of this is Dell Computers.
Slang usage has morphed the meaning into something that can be handled or assimilated quickly, such
as just-in-time training: small, easily digestible pieces of information.
legacy media - Media that is considered "old," such as radio, television, and especially newspapers. With
legacy media, the receiver does not contribute or interact with the content and remains totally passive.
Legacy media is also slang for Web sites that use outdated technology or presentation styles (as in
brochureware). It's the opposite of new media.
McLuhanism - A term for a catchy phrase or slogan coined by Marshall McLuhan, popular writer and
intellectual thinker during the digital revolution. For example, he said, "the medium is the message,"
meaning that the form of media has a greater impact on society than the content. Another McLuhanism
is "the global village."
meatspace - Slang for the real world, as opposed to cyberspace.
mommy-save - Slang for the act of indiscriminately clicking 'Save' without first choosing an appropriate
folder to in which to store the document. Common among newbies (e.g., moms) who don't understand
the concept of folders, directories, etc., as in "All of his papers and correspondence were mommy-saved
in the MS Word folder."
morph or morphing - From the term "metamorphosis," it is to turn one thing into another. It most
commonly refers to special effects morphing and it is the animated transformation of one image into
another, by a gradual distortion of the first image. Certain points of the first image move to the position
of corresponding points in the second image.
Popular culture has adopted the term "morph" to refer to anything that has changed from one thing to
another. For example many terms in NetLingo, including this one, originally described a certain meaning,
and later came to describe a new or additional meaning, (or a new grammatical way of using the term).
The term morph also refers to the technique spammers use when they alter the header of an e-mail to
avoid anti-spam software.
multitasking - a.k.a. multiprocessing. The simultaneous execution of more than one task. For example, a
computer that launches or runs more than one program simultaneously is multitasking.
This term has expanded to include human activities, such as talking on the phone, IM'ing, doing
homework, listening to music, and eating lunch at the same time. A sign of our times is how adults
observe young people and are amazed at their ability to multitask.
navigate - The act of moving around the Web by clicking on hypertext links (or paths) that take you from
one Web page to another. As you navigate, you move from one computer to another and from one
server to another without realizing it.
Outside of the Coast Guard and the yacht club, never before has this term been so widely used. This is
due in part to Netscape Navigator but also to the fact that humans are now thought to be "navigating"
their way through life, careers, relationships, etc. because of more choices and opportunities.
opt-out - Any time a user requests to be removed from any kind of online program, he or she is said to
be "opting out." For example, if you no longer want to receive an e-mail newsletter, you have the ability
to opt-out. Note that there is a difference between opting out and unsubscribing. You may only
unsubscribe to something you have previously subscribed to, but you may opt-out of something you
have never even joined in the first place. For example, if you fill out an online form to register or sign up
for something, you may see a "yes" automatically checked in a radio button to indicate that you wish to
receive something. Unless you manually uncheck the yes, you will be added to some kind of marketing
Opt-out also refers to a type of service that assumes inclusion unless informed otherwise. In modern
slang, it's meaning has extended to refer to someone who is declining to do something, as in, "he's
opting out of the party tonight because he has an early flight in the morning."
PDFing - An example of a word morphing, this term once described the process of turning a document
into an Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) file. Now modern slang uses it as a mild curse word, as
in: "Where's that PDFing document! I had it right here."
photoshopped - A play on the word "Photoshop," the software graphics program created by Adobe, it
refers to anything being "touched up" or digitally manipulated. For example, "Did you see that magazine
interview with Cher? Not only has she had major plasto but they totally photoshopped her to look like a
PING or ping - Packet Internet Groper. Traditionally this term refers to an Internet program used to
determine whether a specific IP address is accessible or online. It works by sending a packet to the
specified address and waiting for a reply. PING (pronounced "ping" as in the game "ping pong") is used
primarily to troubleshoot Internet connections. In addition, PING reports how many hops are required
to connect two Internet hosts. There are both freeware and shareware PING utilities available for PCs.
Like many great technology terms, this term has morphed into a different spelling and meaning. Seen in
email or text messages as "ping me when you get a chance" (not written in ALL CAPS like the acronym) it
is used as slang for getting someone's attention. Another example is, "They've decided to fund the
project, so make sure you ping Phil to get him on board." To "ping" someone means to send him or her
an email or a text message. This new usage has lasting power and is commonly heard everyday in high-
tech companies.
plug-and-play - A standard for add-in hardware that requires it to identify itself on demand (see: hot
plugging). Most computer systems are now designed to be plug-and-play, so that you can buy it, bring it
home, plug it in, and start playing. This makes it easier for people who consider themselves computer
illiterate to use a computer, because they don't need to install devices or configure drivers-it does most
of the work for you. There's also something known as "plug-and-print," a behind-the-screens technology
that improves the way printers and computers communicate.
plugged-in - Slang for wired, or being connected.
radar screen - this refers to the range of interests that a company or individual is focused on. For
example, "With voice portals on everyone's radar screen, a wide variety of companies are now trying to
figure out how they can voice-enable their businesses." Another example: "There is no technology that
allows him to use a PDA; in fact, the blind are not on anybody's radar screen yet."
rant-and-rave - To speak on and on about something you feel passionate for. Users often rant-and-rave
about particular topics in the newsgroups. To "rant" implies negative feelings about something, and to
"rave" implies admiration for something.
robot - Traditionally, it's a device that can move and react to sensory input. Robots are widely used in
factories to perform high-precision jobs, such as welding and riveting, and are also used in special
situations that would otherwise be dangerous for humans (for example, cleaning toxic waste or defusing
bombs). Robotics refers to the field of computer science and engineering concerned with creating
robots; it is a branch of artificial intelligence.
The term "robot" has morphed to also refer to bots, which are automated programs used in several
online functions.
scaleable or scalability - a.k.a. has legs, having legs. Refers to the ability of hardware or software or
even a brand, to adapt to increased demands while continuing to work accurately. It also describes how
well a solution to some problem will work when the size of the problem increases at a later time. For
example, in the industry, developers are commonly concerned with building Web sites that are scaleable
and with setting up an infrastructure that is able to grow.
Scalability also refers to the economies of scale and scope the Internet provides; for example, once a
company creates a "category killer" in a particular niche, it's possible to scale up and capture that
market worldwide at little additional cost. Slang usage can refer to your job, as in, "Dude, why would
you take a job designing at a newspaper? It's so not scaleable."
shelfware - a.k.a. coasterware. Slang for software that is so worthless it remains in the shrink-wrapped
box on the shelf above your desk. In a practical sense, it refers to any kind of software program you buy
at a big box store, off of a shelf (as opposed to downloading it).
It's counterpart, selfware, refers to a subscription-based software service.
showstopper - a.k.a. a big bug. Slang for anything that has the potential to halt the shipment or to stop
the launch of a new product
spamming - Slang for speaking aimlessly on a mishmash of topics, or to stuff someone's brain with
information of questionable content. For example "This guy on AOL started spammin' me about Rush
Limbaugh's superior intellect."
surf or surfing - To browse or look at information on the Web by pointing and clicking and navigating in
a nonlinear way (meaning you can go to any site at any time you like).
A commonly heard phrase is, "I surfed the Net for a few hours last night and bookmarked some great
sites." A "surfer" is a user who surfs the Net.
thread - Originally it referred to a chain of postings on a single subject in a newsgroup. Most
newsreaders include a command that lets you follow a thread by jumping to the next related message
(rather than reviewing all the messages in order). Popular newsreaders also have a thread selector that
allows you to sort articles by threads; indentation is often used to indicate a response to an article
positioned above it.
In addition to threads occurring on discussion boards, forums, and BBS', threads also appear on blogs.
Most recently, however, this term has morphed into a common expression to describe a series of e-mail
messages. When you "reply" or "forward" an e-mail to someone else and include the original message
below a new one, it creates a series of messages which become a thread. As with the newsgroups, the
prior messages are often indented or tagged with brackets. This usage is commonly seen in work-related
e-mail because certain parties "cc" each other and will later forward the thread to someone not on the
original distribution list; the top message may say "Be sure to follow this thread to get the background
info on it."
TMI - Too Much Information. Also known as text message shorthand, used primarily in texting, online
chat, instant messaging, email, blogs, and newsgroup postings, these types of abbreviations are also
referred to as chat acronyms.
unplugged - Slang for being not connected. The opposite of wired. It also refers to acoustic music as
opposed to electric.
user - A term that defines the online audience, it also refers to anyone who uses a computer. The term
"users" rubs some people the wrong way because, in the past, if you said you were a user, it meant you
were habitually consuming an illicit drug. Nowadays, a user is a person who is online. It comes from
techies, who refer to people as "computer users."
Historical reference: As of 2007, the word "users" is not yet in the American Heritage Dictionary, but the
word "user-friendly" made it; perhaps that is because we are the first group of people ever to be online
users ;-)
yoyo mode - The state in which a computer rapidly alternates several times between being up and being
down. It is also slang for when men (or women) "string you along" as in "Girl, haven't you learned your
lesson about him yet, he's in permanent yoyo mode."

Legalist Gobbledygook
Objection - Objection is used to protest when an opposing lawyer asks an inappropriate question of a
witness. A lawyer can also object when a witness makes a statement that has nothing to do with the
question at hand.
Sustained - If a judge sustains an objection, he or she is agreeing with it, telling the lawyer who asked
the question to drop it and move on.
Overruled - When a judge overrules an objection, he is telling the witness to go ahead and answer the
Withdrawn - A less-embarrassing word for I take it back!
Rebuttal - A comeback supported by evidence. For instance, if the prosecutor states that a bloody
candlestick was found in Professor Plums study, the defense might offer the rebuttal that the professor
had sold the candlestick in question to an antique dealer the previous week.
Prima Facie - Prima facie is Latin for at first look or on its face, and in legalese it refers to a situation
where someone looks guilty. One of the nice things about our legal system is that even when you look
guilty, the system is supposed to look more closely and give you a chance to defend yourself.
For example, in a prima facie case, a jury might be presented with the evidence of your handgun
found at the scene of your husbands murder, and everyone would expect you to be indicted based on
that evidence at least until the fatal bullet was shown to have been fired from the gun of the
policeman who discovered the crime!
Plea Bargain - This is when the prosecution and the defense work out a deal, with the judges approval,
in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for something. For example, if you rob a liquor store
and get caught, you might plead guilty in exchange for a short sentence, saving everyone the trouble of
going through a trial. The defendant may also give up information about other crimes or criminals in
exchange for a lenient sentence.
Adjournment - An adjournment is a suspension or delay of the entire trial until a later date. This
sometimes happens when new and surprising evidence is introduced that changes the course of the
Habeas Corpus - Habeas Corpus is Latin for you have the body, which sounds ominous, but it is
actually one of the most fundamental rights of a citizen. When a writ of habeas corpus is presented to a
judge, it means that someone who has imprisoned another person has to show the legal basis for that
In other words, the law of habeas corpus is what prevents police and prison officials from locking people
up without trying to show theyve done anything wrong.
Recess - A recess is a short break from a trial (not to be confused with an adjournment, which is a long
break from a trial). Unfortunately, most courthouses do not have adjoining playgrounds, so lawyers tend
to spend recesses doing whatever they have to do to continue the trial.
Statutes another term for the laws that govern a state or nation. These laws are written down and
promulgated by the legislative branch of the government.
Summons A document issued by the Clerk of Court to be served on the defendant to notify the
defendant that he/she has a civil action filed against him/her and must file an answer within thirty days.
Verification when a party to a suit swears that the contents of a document are true and correct
usually sworn to in the presence of a notary public.
Motion the request made by either side to the court requesting the court to rule or take action on
their behalf.
Order the decision of the judge that is put in writing and filed in the court case. The order often
requires action and if not complied with, can result in contempt charges.
Party a person or company involved in a lawsuit can be either side of a case.
Plaintiff the person who begins a case in court.
Hearing - a time scheduled when the judge gives the parties an opportunity to present evidence and
testimony in support of their claims.
Indigent - a person who can convince the court that he/she cannot afford to pay any costs for legal
Bar - general term referring to a group of attorneys.
Bench - term used to refer to judges or the court - example: "Please approach the bench" refers to
approaching the judge.
Law firm - Organizations that employ lawyers to provide legal advice and legal services.
Legal services - Services provided to clients, such as legal advice or representation in court.