A guide to corporate English vocabulary and sayings

In so many English speaking movies and television shows, plus countless business magazine spreads, the image of corporate personnel is pretty seductive. Nice suits, access to good food and drink, and the ability to speak to anyone in order to do big money business transactions. At least the image we see looks impressive.

But for so many students the world over, this can be a rather intimidating image. Aside from the expensive suits and meals, they see the ability to learn the complex business English language as impossible. From there, they begin to limit their own personal business goals and give up on their dreams.

This is never a good route to take. Learning business English is troublesome but building on one’s own vocabulary and industry sayings is actually one of the easiest tasks possible for any student. It’s just about learning words or expressions, their meanings, and, like most business communication scenarios, how to use them.

For the real corporate English vocabulary and sayings, here is a practical list with meanings for each:

Is this investment blue chip?

Blue chip refers to legitimacy, originally coming from stocks that are listed on international stock markets and worthy of investing in to get real dividends.

We have to cut our losses with this bad investment.

When you cut your losses, you remove something that is causing a problem to the company.

How are we going to get this online purchasing platform off the ground?

When professionals use the term ‘off the ground’, it simply means they want to launch whatever it is they are referring to.

If tariffs go up, the company might go in the red.

Going into the red means running the risk of going into debt, losing money, and harming the company financially.

Giving the clients premium is a no-brainer.

When you do something automatically with common sense, that’s called a no-brainer.

We can play this deal by ear.

Playing by ear originally referred to musicians improvising by relying on their musical instinct. In a business sense, some seasoned professionals do deals by ear as they are confident of their business instincts.

She’s on the top of the game with sales.

If you’re on the top of your game, you are performing at your peak potential and doing well for your company.

Mick raised the bar with his new promotional plan.

Another complimentary expression, raising the bar refers to doing a good job and setting the precedent that your colleagues should work by.

We really saw eye-to-eye with the Algerian partner.

If you agree without problem, you see eye-to-eye.

The trader said our investment will make so much money that the sky is the limit.

The expression ‘the sky is the limit’ can be misleading. It means that anything is possible to achieve and some companies have to be careful that this doesn’t allow them to make reckless decisions.

Don’t mention the lay-offs. That’s the boss’ elephant in the room.

Calling anything an elephant in the room is to label something controversial and something to avoid discussing.

Let’s touch base about the rentals over lunch.

Touching base means discussing and working towards a common goal.

Don’t trust Mr. Lester. He’s such a yes man to the boss.

A yes man is someone that does not argue with the management, often when they should speak out on an issue for their own personal benefit.

It was an uphill battle making ties with the venture funding party, but eventually we established a good relationship.

Any really difficult task can be described as an uphill battle.

I like how Ms. Irwin took the bull by the horns and ironed out the financials.

These expressions can be used together or in similar scenarios. Trying to confront a problem and fix it can be expressed as taking a bull by the horns while trying to make a situation smoother is to iron it out.

Like these terms and want to learn more? Read more about The Language Gallery’s English language courses to see how you can get instruction on today’s corporate English and to take classes that suit your professional language interests.



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