Published: August 22, 2008
Jennifer Selby Long, Selby Group
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Fun with Words: How to Sound as Intelligent as You Are

Since it's the last two weeks of August and everyone's out of the office, I thought those of us who are working could have some fun with language.

Gain an edge over your slacking, vacationing colleagues with the proper use of these commonly butchered terms:

  • Confused ClownWhen referring to bringing in new people with fresh ideas, we are not seeking fresh blood, we are seeking new blood. Fresh blood implies a lioness eating her kill, or a vampire. Gross.
  • Businesspeople should rarely flush out anything. Besides the obvious allusion to a toilet, this phrase is a hunting term (there's that fresh blood issue again). It's what hunters do to scare birds out of their hiding places. Unless you're doing an investigation into corporate corruption, don't use the term flush out. The term you probably want is "flesh out," which means to add more depth and detail.
  • One never has a brainstorm. It's a verb. One has ideas while brainstorming, but the ideas themselves are just ideas, not brainstorms of their very own. Eventually this word will make it into the vernacular as a noun, but for the time being, business people should use it only as a verb.

I hear these three mistakes more than any others. What language gaffs do you hear? I would love to hear from you!



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