Today’s edition is not about the horse racing in horse racing business, but rather, is about the business part. In business writing in newspapers, magazines, and on the Internet, as well as in reporting and discussion on TV, some of the hackneyed phrases and worn-out words are enough to drive one to distraction.

Following is my personal list of the most objectionable and grating clichés and a primer concerning what each means. I am certain I have left some out, my mind humanely repressing them from my consciousness.

Out-of-the-box thinker

Translation: His/her solutions are bizarre…or “I am a quirky thinker and this phrase is a way to turn a negative into a positive by portraying me as a creative genius.”

He/she is a team player

Translation: He or she does exactly as told.

He/she is a winner

Translation: He or she sees things as we do…or is filthy rich.


Translation: Shorthand for busy, busy, busy. 24/7 is often meant to signal to customers how hard you are working for them.


Translation: “To establish priorities” has been turned into a verb, something that was never intended. Same for finalize instead of to finish.

Paradigm shift

Translation: A business model no longer works well, so  obscure the fact by saying that the model has been eviscerated by a sea change causing a paradigm shift. This high faluting obfuscation is preferable to saying that the old business model is almost defunct and “We don’t have a clue what to do about it.”

Connect the dots

Translation: “Looks like a trend has developed and you obviously missed seeing it.” Can be a smart aleck remark, depending on how it is said.

Grow the business

Translation: Grass grows, children grow, but businesses expand.


Translation: Everybody and their brother and sister. Normally, the person using the term wants badly to be included in an aspirational group or organization.

Cut to the chase

Translation: Please see the explanation of the next item for an example of proper usage.

The bottom line

Translation: Cutting to the chase, the situation is as shown, which is often dire.


Translation: Evidently more than a single unit of currency. Its usage is like referring to the deers, the mooses, the aircrafts, the offsprings, the fishes, and Japanese Yens.

Stimulus dollars or (more aggravating) stimulus monies

Translation: “Woo Pig Sooie”  (To learn about the etymology of this agricultural term, you may want to contact the office of the University of Arkansas football team.)

At the end of the day

Translation: When all is said and done. Or, to be as redundant as possible, “Finally, in the end.”

Having said that

Translation: “I acknowledge the fact, but I am still going to hedge or stick to my contradictory view.”

Do the math

Translation: A put-down, for sure, by a wise guy or gal with a superiority complex. “Don’t you see, are you stupid?”

The last time I checked

Translation: Another put-down. “Don’t you know the facts, you dunce?”

Got your back.

Translation: “I will come to your aid, if it is in my best interests to do so.” Kinda like Major Reno reassured General Custer at the Little Big Horn.

Having said all of this, at the end of the day, business writers and commentators will undoubtedly continue to use these offensive slang terms. ..until they can invent some new ones. That’s the bottom line. Do the math and then connect the dots.

I know that you stakeholders/readers can be stimulated to add to this ignominious pantheon of words and phrases by first prioritizing and then thinking outside the box. I’d bet monies on it.

Oh, by the way, “Have a nice day (or else).”

Copyright © 2010 Horse Racing Business


  1. How about “win-win,” which means my self-serving decision has benefits for you as well. The only “win-win” I like is hitting a Pick 4 and triple in the same race!

  2. Politicans use investments instead of spending and another popular slang term is “lipstick on a pig.”