The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A buzzword (also known as a fashion word) is an idiom, often a neologism, commonly used in technical, administrative and political environments, consisting of an over-used word or phrase. Buzzwords appear ubiquitously but their actual meanings often remain unclear. A buzzword may or may not appear in a dictionary, but if it does, its meaning as a buzzword does not match the conventional definition. Buzzwords differ from jargon in that they have the function of impressing or of obscuring meaning, while jargon (ideally) has a well-defined technical meaning, if only to specialists. It could or could not mean something, but it doesn't matter as it is said whether or not the speaker doesn't know what it means, it just "sounds cool". That leads us up to the next question....

Why do speakers use buzzwords?

A generous view allows that buzzwords have the same function as jargon in scientific disciplines: newly-minted terms to describe new concepts, without the danger of over-simplification and confusion that can arise from using words and phrases with previously established, commonplace meanings.

Buzzwords can also function to control thought by being intentionally vague. In management, stating organizational goals by using words with unclear meanings prevents anybody from questioning the directions and intentions of these decisions, especially if many such words are used. (See also newspeak, Machiavelli.)

Eventually a buzzword will become old and lose its effect and will be known as a Wank word .

A less cynical interpretation might claim that the intentionally vague phrase may boost individual thinking and creativity by deliberately raising questions.


See also

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