Jargon Spreads At High-Tech Pace In The Very Modern Wired World

Do you head for the “cube farm” every weekday morning anxious about being “Dilberted,” or worse, “chain sawed?”

Have you turned into a “body Nazi” trying to shake the stress?

There was a time when the jargon of any specialized group took forever to reach the mainstream, but that was before technology wired us together. Today, a piece of office slang can spread through e-mail and over the Internet “faster than a head cold through a kindergarten classroom,” says jargon impresario Gareth Branwyn, who treasures such cross-fertilizations as symbolizing the values, ideas, anxieties and humor of our times.

Branwyn has produced “Jargon Watch” (HardWired Books, 1997) described as a “pocket dictionary for the jitterati” (those who fear they are outside the digital revolution).

It’s an extension of his Wired magazine column, which, he explains, is collected from Web pages, e-mail, computer programs, trade shows and other sources.

Some samples of the emerging language:

Begathon: A TV or radio fundraiser for a charity or PBS station in which every form of guilt, sweet-talking and outright begging is used to get people to fork over dough.

Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

Body Nazis: Hard-core exercise and weight-lifting fanatics who look down on anyone who doesn’t obsessively work out.

Chain Saw Consultants: Outside experts brought in to reduce the employee head count (leaving the top brass with clean hands).

Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.

Deboning: Removing stitched-in subscription cards and card stock ad pages from a magazine to make it easier to read.

Dilberted: To be exploited, oppressed and screwed over by one’s boss.

Elvis Year: The peak year of something’s popularity. “Barney the dinosaur’s Elvis year was 1993.”

Entrenched Transactors: Bank jargon for people who refuse to bank by ATM or computer, thus wasting the bank’s money/time on tellers.

In the Plastic Closet: Said about someone who refuses to admit to having cosmetic surgery.

Ohnosecond: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a big mistake.

Open Collar Workers: People who work at home or telecommute.

I-Way: Short form of information superhighway.

Mouse Potato: The online, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.

Siliwood: Short for “Silicon Hollywood,” the coming converge of movies, interactive television and computer.

Starter Marriages: Short-lived first marriages that end in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

Tract Mansions: Large, expensive homes built in tract-like developments by the nouveau rich.

Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies at the workplace.

Yuppie Food Coupons: The $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: “We each owe $8, but all anybody’s got is yuppie food coupons.”

xxxx SEND US YOUR LINE Do you have local samples to share from your own workplace? Please e-mail the jargon terms and a brief definition to the Business Desk at The Spokesman-Review. Send the items, your name, business and a daytime phone number to Associate Editor Chuck Rehberg at

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