The Most Distinctive Business Jargon Used in Each State

"Move what needle?"
"Move what needle?" / Yuri_Arcurs/iStock via Getty Images

From moving parts to moving the needle, many of us pepper business communications with buzzy phrases that may or may not actually make our meaning any clearer.

Graphic design platform Canva combed through 6.3 million online job descriptions to find out which jargon is most popular—and which state uses it most often. According to the study, Washington is at the top of the list: For every 1000 job descriptions, approximately 598 contained corporate-speak. California was right behind it with an average of 541; and Massachusetts, Colorado, and New York all ranked high, too. Team player, dynamic, self-starter, and empower were the phrases that popped up most frequently, which sheds a little light on what companies value in their employees.

You can circle back to this map later if you don't have time to look at it now.
You can circle back to this map later if you don't have time to look at it now. / Canva

Canva also looked at where usage spiked for certain phrases. In Arizona and Colorado, for example, blue sky thinking appeared in job listings more often than it did across the rest of the country. (For those who haven’t come across the expression in their own jobs, it basically refers to brainstorming ideas without factoring in realistic limitations like budget and time constraints.)

Make hay, meanwhile, puts up above-average stats in job ads from Florida, Montana, and five other states. It’s likely a truncation of the classic idiom make hay while the sun shines, meaning to make the most of an opportunity while you have it. If your manager is constantly telling you to make hay, hopefully they’re following up that directive with some more specific—or should we say actionable—instructions. Peel the onion is another general idiom that seeped into business and stayed there, especially in the South (and also Maine, Oregon, Illinois, and Kansas).

See what your state’s most distinctive corporate phrase is on the map below, and peel the onion on the problem of jargon (i.e. read the full study) here.

Drill down on this data with laser-focused intensity.
Drill down on this data with laser-focused intensity. / Canva