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15 Most Common Business Idioms You Should Know
business idioms

15 Most Common Business Idioms You Should Know

There are many idioms used in the business World.  If you don’t understand these expressions, it’s easy to get lost in a conversation.  Below is a table of 15 most common idioms used at work.

List of Most Common Business Idioms

No. Idioms Explanation
1 Yes man A person who always agrees with his boss.

E.g. ‘Being a yes man keeps me out of trouble, and it might even lead to a promotion!”

2 Call it a day To quit work and go home; to say that a day’s work has been completed.

E.g. “I’m tired. Let’s call it a day.”

The boss was mad because Bill called it a day at noon.”

3 Hit the nail on the head To identify something exactly; to arrive at exactly the right answer.

E.g. “He hit the nail on the head when he said the problem was the thermostat”

4 Grey area (UK) / Gray area (US) Means something that is not clearly defined and needs careful judgement.

E.g. “It exists in a grey area between legal and illegal.”

“It’s a grey area isn’t it?” (Meaning the speaker is talking about an unsure concept).

5 Get the ball rolling To begin; to start some action; to set in motion.

E.g. We really need to get the ball rolling on this project. The deadline is in October, and it’s already September.

6 Back to the Drawing Board Means that a previously established plan isn’t working and that it is time to re-plan.

E.g. “My job interview went horribly! I have to go back to the drawing board.”

7 Thumbs Up Shows that someone or something is good, especially when it comes to a performance or action with good results.

E.g. “That’s good. You deserve a big thumbs up for such a great presentation!”

8 Big picture Means the overall perspective or objective, not the fine detail.

E.g. “Although we all have all specific tasks to do, our leader makes sure we don’t lose sight of the big picture.”

9 On the ball To be Alert, active, or attentive; on top of things.

e.g. “If I had been more on the ball I would have asked when he called me.”

10 On the same page  In broad agreement, or sharing a common general understanding or knowledge

E.g. “I want to make sure we’re all on the same page with this new project.”

11 Ground-breaking Means innovative, different than other things of its type.

E.g. “This product is certainly a ground-breaking technology.”

12 Read between the lines To infer a meaning that is not stated explicitly

e.g. “If you read between the lines a little, you will realize that he has deeper motives”

13 Put the cart before the horse To put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities; to put something inconsequential as more important than something more essential.

E.g. “There’s no point trying to write the report when you haven’t got a clear idea of what to write. You don’t want to put the cart before the horse.”

14 See someone’s point Means that you understand their reason for having a certain opinion, or for feeling a certain way.

E.g. “Yes, I see your point. Let me double-check that and get back with you.”

15 Get down to work To get serious and focus on what you need to do to accomplish a challenging goal

E.g. “You know what, Harry? You just need to get down to work!”


Author: Sophia
Category: Business, Editor Picks, English, Speaking Lessons, Vocabulary
Date: April 13, 2016

Business English: 10 Most Common Workplace Abbreviations & 80 Business Acronyms You Should Know

Business English: 10 Most Common Workplace Abbreviations & 80 Business Acronyms You Should Know

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase. In written English, we use abbreviations to shorten common sentences to save time. This post will explain most commonly used abbreviations that are used in a business setting.

10 Common Workplace Abbreviation


ASAP = as soon as possible (If this is an Email from your boss, drop everything else and work on the report!)

E.g. “Send me the report ASAP”.

2. FYI

FYI = for your information (When you share information to keep people in the loop, it’s FYI.)

E.g. “FYI, this is the update I got from the team.”

3. BTW

BTW = by the way (Some even use it to mean “back to work” — safe for ending an online chat with colleagues.)

E.g. “I read that article BTW. Not so great”.

4. EOD

EOD = end of day (End of day can mean before closing time or before you or Roohi leave for the day, whichever happens first.)

E.g. “John, I will send you the details by tomorrow EOD”.


ATTN=attention (Used to indicate who a letter is for)

E.g. “Attn: John Smith” 

6. N/A

N/A= not applicable (It is used to indicate when information in a certain table cell is not provided, either because it does not apply to a particular case in question or because the answer is not available.)

E.g.  “How old is your son?: N/A” (because the person is still single).

7. COB 

COB =Close of business (Used to refer to the end of a working day, usually when stating a deadline)

E.g. “This is just a reminder that the survey is still open and will remain open until COB today

8. COD

COD = cash on delivery (It is a mode of payment; you pay when the goods are delivered.)

E.g. “We don’t have to pay the printer now. It’s COD.”

 9. TBD

TBD = to be decided (You will know it eventually.)

E.g. “No. of participants: TBD”

10. RSVP

RSVP= Répondez s’il vous plait (RSVP is indeed French and it stands for répondez s’il vous plaît. It literally means “please respond”. RSVP is now a fixed idiom, even in French.)

E.g. “RSVP to John by April the 20th”

80 Business Acronyms and Business Abbreviations You Should Know

Some abbreviations can be used in emails or chatting online, some are specific to the virtual workplace.

  1. Acct – Account
  2. Ad– Advertisement
  3. Approx – Approximately
  4. APR – Annual percentage rate
  5. BS- Bachelor of Science Degree
  6. B2B – Business to business
  7. BA – Bachelor of Business Administration Degree
  8. CEO – Chief Executive Officer
  9. CFO – Chief Financial Officer
  10. Co. – Company
  11. Corp. – Corporation
  12. CSR – Customer Sales Representative
  13. Dept. – Department
  14. Div – Division
  15. Ea. – Each
  16. EST – Eastern Standard Time (the time on the East Coast of the United States and some Canadian provinces)
  17. FAQ – Frequently Asked Question
  18. FWD – Forward
  19. GDP – Gross Domestic Product
  20. Govt. – Government
  21. HQ – Headquarters
  22. Inc. – Incorporated
  23. ISO – International Organization for Standardization
  24. Jr. – Junior
  25. Lb. – Pound (weight)
  26. LLC – Limited liability company
  27. Max – Maximm
  28. MBA – Master of Business Administration Degree
  29. Memo- Memorandum
  30. Mfg– Manufacturing
  31. Min. – Minium
  32. Mo – Month
  33. No – Number
  34. Pkg – Package
  35. PO – Purchase order
  36. PR – Public relations
  37. Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 – First quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter
  38. Qty – Quantity
  39. R&D  – Research and Development
  40. Re – In regards to, regarding
  41. Recd. – Received
  42. ROI – Return on Investment
  43. SWOT – Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
  44. Temp – Temporary Secretary
  45. VP – Vice President
  46. W/ – With
  47. W/O – Without
  48. Yr. – Year
  49. 404 – Abbreviation for the “Error 404 – Not Found” message displayed when coming across a dead link online.  Can also mean lost or confused, e.g. “After coming out of the weekly staff meeting, I still felt 404.”
  50. COOP – Continuity of operations planning.
  51. EOM – End of message.
  52. EOT – End of thread.
  53. ESP – Email service provider
  54. FWIW –  “For what it’s worth.”  Commonly used in email communications.
  55. IAM – “In a meeting.”
  56. IM – instant message.
  57. IMO – “In my opinion.”  Commonly used in email communications or IMHO – “in my humble opinion.”
  58. KPI – Key performance indicator.
  59. KRA – Key result area.
  60. MBO – Management by objectives.
  61. NSFW – Not Safe For Work.  Your college buddy has just sent you a link titled “Check this out! (NSFW).”   Don’t click on it if you value your job.
  62. NWR – Not work related.
  63. OLT – Online Training.
  64. OTP – “On the phone.”
  65. RACI – tool used to assign roles and responsibilities to team members.  Stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed.
  66. ROWE – Results Only Work Environment.
  67. SMART – used in goal setting, it stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable or Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  68. SME – subject matter expert.
  69. SNS – Social network site.
  70. SOHO – Small Office / Home Office.
  71. VC – Virtual Class.
  72. VLE – Virtual learning environment.
  73. VPN – Virtual private network.
  74. VW – virtual worker.
  75. VWVW – virtual worker at virtual workplace.
  76. WAH – Work At Home, see WFH.
  77. WBT – Web-based training.
  78. WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?”
  79. WFH – Work From Home.
  80. 401k – A common type of US retirement savings plan
Author: Tony Kroos
Category: Business, English, Speaking, Vocabulary
Date: April 4, 2016