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Business Idioms You'll Want To Know: Part One

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Joined: 20 Aug 2009
Posts: 49
Location: Denver, Colorado

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject: Business Idioms You'll Want To Know: Part One Reply with quote

Even as a student of Business English, you might get confused when common business idioms are used and you are unaware of their meaning. The following terms are ones that have been used by United States English speakers during business meetings or conferences. Note what they are and you’re sure to be a step ahead during business conversations.

1. Across the board

MEANING: Including everyone or everything

EXAMPLE: There was an internal restructuring across the board.

2. At a loss

MEANING: To incur a financial loss / To lose money

EXAMPLE: We may be forced to sell the remaining products at a loss.

3. At loggerheads

MEANING: In disagreement

EXAMPLE: The company owners are at loggerheads over how to proceed with our request.

4. An old hand

MEANING: Someone with long experience at something

EXAMPLE: He is an old hand at dealing with customer complaints.

5. Ball park figure

MEANING: A rough estimate or figure

EXAMPLE: We have a ball park figure for the cost of the supplies.

6. A calculated risk

MEANING: An action that may fail but has a good chance of success

EXAMPLE: We’ll have to take a calculated risk when introducing our new product to customers.

7. Cold call

MEANING: Call or approach a potential customer who has had no previous contact with the business

EXAMPLE: You’ll have to make cold calls to market our product.

8. Carve out a niche

MEANING: To find a special position to monopolize

EXAMPLE: We aim to carve out a niche among the elderly market of our customers.

9. A ‘Catch 22’ situation

MEANING: A situation that will never work

EXAMPLE: The contract we signed has placed us in a ‘Catch 22’ situation.

10. Computer bug

MEANING: A computer software corruption

EXAMPLE: Our new computer system has encountered a computer bug.

11. Deliver the goods

MEANING: To succeed in doing what is expected

EXAMPLE: If we work extra hours, we’ll be able to deliver the goods.

12. Double check

MEANING: To review a second time to make sure something is correct

EXAMPLE: It is important to double check every entry you make on the spreadsheet.

13. Face value

MEANING: The official worth or trust of something

EXAMPLE: The face value of the product is not much but the demand from customers will push it higher.

14. Gain ground

MEANING: To go forward/ To make progress

EXAMPLE: Our company has been gaining ground with the youth market.

15. Get a break

MEANING: To get an opportunity or a good deal

EXAMPLE: We got a break on the cost of the wheels we ordered.

16. Get off the ground

MEANING: To launch or start something successfully

EXAMPLE: We did not manage to get the product off the ground so we may have to wait until next year.

17. Hacker

MEANING: Someone who has gained access to or interfered with computer information without permission

EXAMPLE: We have a computer security system to prevent a hacker from accessing our files.

If you are interested in improving your business English, consider signing up for ESL Classes in the USA to teach you everything you need to know to be successful with your business matters. Executive English courses last from three weeks and equip you with the English you need to know for every business situation.

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention our ESL blog as the original source).

Rachel Clarkson
Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI English ESL Programs and blogger at the ESL Blog.
LCI offers the best ESL classes through experienced teachers and high quality programs in Denver, Colorado. Check out great ESL resources and articles at
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Joined: 26 Jul 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:43 am    Post subject: Jargon dictionary Reply with quote

This is such a great post! Learning the real business jargon can really help when it comes to presentations in front of big corporate bosses. Especially if English isn't your first language too! Some of the guys I am studyin with are from all around the world and this will certainly score some points on their side with their English speaking and it will certainly give a lasting impression. Great Idea! Idea
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