From Polyglot Club WIKI
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rate this lesson:
(one vote)


In today's lesson you will learn some essential vocabulary to help you in the business English world. To get ahead in this world, it’s important to know the language you will be using every day.

I hope you find this guide helpful!

Feel free to edit and add more phrases and examples. You can also leave comments below.

an old hand[edit | edit source]

a person who has long experience, especially in one place.

  • Example: "He can help us set up a company in Paris. He's been working in France for many years and speaks French fluently. He's an old France hand."

ASAP[edit | edit source]

"ASAP" is an acronym for "as soon as possible.

  • Example: "I'm in a meeting now, but I'll call you back asap."

in the 11th hour[edit | edit source]

very late, at the very last minute.

  • Example: "The Director reached an agreement in the 11th hour."

back to square one[edit | edit source]

To go "back to square one" means to start something over again.

  • Example: "If they do not accept our deal, we will be back to square one."

backroom deal[edit | edit source]

A "backroom deal" is an agreement or decision that is made without the public knowing about it.

  • Example: "I don' t care what backroom deal he made!"

ballpark number/figure[edit | edit source]

A "ballpark number" is a very inexact estimate.

  • Example: "I know you can't tell me exactly the date, but can you give a ballpark estimate?"

behind someone's back[edit | edit source]

To do something "behind someone's back" means to do something without someone's knowledge and in an unfair way.

  • Example: "it's not right to talk about people behind their backs."

behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

What happens in secret or not in front of the general public is said to happen "behind the scenes."

  • Example: "He exerted some behind-the-scenes influence when the project was being planned."

bring to the table[edit | edit source]

whatever you can possibly offer.

  • Example: "I will meet with Teacher Joe's new company to show him what we can bring to the table."

carve out a niche[edit | edit source]

find a special market that you can control.

  • Example: "To succeed in this competitive world, you have to focus on part of it. Try to carve out a niche and be number one in that are."

a deadline[edit | edit source]

the latest date by which something should be finished.

  • Example: "The deadline for handing in our essays is 5:00 this Monday"

deep pockets[edit | edit source]

have a lot of money.

  • Example: "If there is a price war, we won't win because we don't have deep enough pockets."

down time[edit | edit source]

when equipment of facilities are not available, so you cannot work.

  • Example: "There will probably be a lot of down time at the conference, so I'm bringing a lot of paperwork."

easy come, easy go[edit | edit source]

"Easy come, easy go," is an expression used to communicate that something gained easily is also lost easily.

  • Example: "it's easy come, easy go, really, because I've just lost a small amount of money. "

fifty-fifty[edit | edit source]

"Fifty-fifty" means something is divided equally -- 50% for one party, 50% for the other party.

  • Example: "There is a fifty-fifty chance of this happening"

free ride[edit | edit source]

get benefit at no cost.

  • Example: "Of course we should make them pay for our travel expenses. WHy should we give them a free ride?"

from day one[edit | edit source]

from the beginning.

  • Example: "Teacher Joe has been providing the best English-learning web site from day one!"

from the ground up[edit | edit source]

If you start a business, project, or something else from zero, you start it "from the ground up."

  • Example: "He must plan his sales campaign carefully from the ground up."

game plan[edit | edit source]

A "game plan" is a strategy or plan.

  • Example: "Part of their game plan is to expand into China"

get back in/into the swing of things[edit | edit source]

To "get back in/into the swing of things" means to get used to doing something again after having a break from that activity.

  • Example: "He only started work last week, but he quickly got into the swing of things."

get down to business[edit | edit source]

To "get down to business" means to stop making small talk and start talking about serious topics related to business.

  • Example: "As you have a lot to do, you better get down to business."

get something off the ground[edit | edit source]

To "get something off the ground" means to start a project or business.

  • Example: "It is my job to get this project off the ground."

get the ball rolling[edit | edit source]

To "get the ball rolling" means to start something (a project, for example).

  • Example: "Let's get the ball rolling!"

get your foot in the door[edit | edit source]

have a small opportunity that can become a big opportunity in the future, if you do good work.

  • Example: "Right now, I just want to get my foot in the door, so they can see what I can do. Next year I hope to start moving up in the company."

get/be on the good side of someone[edit | edit source]

If someone likes you, you are "on the good side" of that person.

get/have one's foot in the door[edit | edit source]

To "get or have one's foot in the door" means to take a low-level position with a company with the goal of eventually getting a better position with the same company.

  • Example: "You've got a clever way of getting your foot in the door, and then we can't get it closed until the proposition is carried"

give someone a pat on the back[edit | edit source]

To "give someone a pat on the back" means to tell someone that they did a good job.

  • Example: "The teacher patted all the students on the back for their good work."

give the thumbs down[edit | edit source]

To "give something or someone the thumbs down" means to deny approval.

  • Example: "The committee gave my suggestion the thumbs down."

give the thumbs up[edit | edit source]

To "give something or someone the thumbs up" means to give approval.

  • Example: "We all gave Vincent's report the thumbs up"

go broke[edit | edit source]

To "go broke" means to go bankrupt or to lose all the money a person or business had.

  • Example: "This company is going to go broke if nothing is done"

go down the drain[edit | edit source]

When someone wastes or loses something, it is said to "go down the drain."

  • Example: "I'm scared I'm going to be out of a job, and my experience will be down the drain."

go the extra mile[edit | edit source]

To "go the extra mile" means to do more than what people expect.

  • Example: "The teacher goes the extra mile to help the weaker students understand."

go through the roof[edit | edit source]

If something is "going through the roof," it means it is rapidly increasing.

  • Example: "Prices for gasoline are going through the roof."

gray area[edit | edit source]

If something is in a "gray area," it means that it is something undefined and not easily categorized.

  • Example: "There is a lot of gray area when it comes to how products are marketed."

ground-breaking[edit | edit source]

If something is "ground-breaking," it means it is new and innovative.

  • Example: "This expression goes back to the ground-breaking days of computers"

in a nutshell[edit | edit source]

"In a nutshell" means in a few words.

  • Example: "In a nutshell, I think he’s a genius"

in full swing[edit | edit source]

If a project is "in full swing," it means that it has been completely started and that it is progressing or moving as fast as it ever will.

  • Example: "In the summermonths, things really get into full swing around here"

in the black[edit | edit source]

If a company is "in the black," it means that it is making a profit.

in the driver's seat[edit | edit source]

To be "in the driver's seat" means to be in control.

  • Example: "I wish my accounts were in the black."

in the red[edit | edit source]

If a company is "in the red," it means that is not profitable and is operating at a loss.

  • Example: "I wish my accounts were not in the red"

keep one's eye on the ball[edit | edit source]

To "keep one's eye on the ball" means to give something one's full attention and to not lose focus.

last straw[edit | edit source]

The "last straw" means the last annoyance, disturbance, or betrayal which causes someone to give up, lose their patience, or become angry.

  • Example: "If you want to get along in this office, you're going tohave to keep your eye on the ball."

learn the ropes[edit | edit source]

To "learn the ropes" means to learn the basics of something.

  • Example: "It'll take some time for the new receptionist to learn the ropes."

long shot[edit | edit source]

A "long shot" is something that has a very low probability of happening.

  • Example: "I know it's a long shot because of her busy schedule, but maybe I can convince her to help me."

on a shoestring[edit | edit source]

with limited money.

  • Example: "They started their company on a shoestring and built it up to one of the largest companies in the world!"

rock the boat[edit | edit source]

To "rock the boat" means to cause problems or disrupt a peaceful situation.

  • Example: "Everything is going fine here. Please, don't rock the boat!"

round-the-clock[edit | edit source]

"Round the clock" means 24 hours a day.

  • Example: "This place is guarded around the clock."

run/go around in circles[edit | edit source]

To "run (or go) around in circles" means to do the same thing over and over again without getting any results.

  • Example: "The discussion kept going around in circles."

safe bet[edit | edit source]

A "safe bet" means something that will probably happen.

  • Example: "He is a safe bet for re-election."

In the same boat[edit | edit source]

If people are in the same situation, they are in the "same boat." Example : "He was in the same boat as any other worker who had lost a job."

see eye to eye[edit | edit source]

To "see eye to eye" with someone means to agree with that person.

  • Example: "They don't always agree but when it comes to the most important things they see eye to eye."

see something through[edit | edit source]

To "see something through" means to do something until it is finished.

  • Example: "Having come this far, he really wanted to see things through."

sever ties[edit | edit source]

To "sever ties" means to end a relationship.

  • Example: " The company severed its ties with the CEO"

shoot something down[edit | edit source]

To "shoot something down" means to reject something, such as a proposal or idea.

  • Example: "He raised a good point, but they shot him down immediately."

sky's the limit[edit | edit source]

"The sky's the limit" if there is no limit to what can be achieved.

  • Example: "it seems like the sky is the limit for this talented man."

small talk[edit | edit source]

"Small talk" is conversation about unimportant topics that do not offend people (the weather, for example).

  • Example: "Meetings often starts with small talks."

smooth/clear sailing[edit | edit source]

"Smooth sailing" is a term used to describe a situation where success is achieved without difficulties.

  • Example: "Once you've passed your exam, it will be smooth sailing to graduation"

snail mail[edit | edit source]

"Snail mail" is the term used for the traditional mail that goes through the post office.

stand one's ground[edit | edit source]

To "stand one's ground" means to not change one's opinion or position.

  • Example: "He tried to confuse me during the meeting, but Imanaged to stand my ground"

start off on the right foot[edit | edit source]

To "start off on the right foot" means to start something in a positive way.

  • Example: "We started our meetings on time and started off on the right foot."

start off on the wrong foot[edit | edit source]

To "start off on the wrong foot" means to start something in a negative way.

  • Example: "I don't want to start off on the wrong foot today!"

take the bull by the horns[edit | edit source]

To "take the bull by the horns" means to directly confront a difficult situation.

  • Example: "Let's take the bull by the horns and get this done!"

talk someone into something[edit | edit source]

To "talk someone into something" means to convince someone to do something.

  • Example: "He talked me into working for him."

talk someone out of something[edit | edit source]

To "talk someone out of something" means to convince someone not to do something.

  • Example: "He talked me out of working for him."

the elephant in the room[edit | edit source]

"The elephant in the room" refers to an obvious problem or controversial issue that no one wants to talk about.

  • Example: "Increasing poverty in the world is the western politicians’ elephant in the room."

think big[edit | edit source]

To "think big" means to have ambitious goals and big plans for the future.

  • Example: "To start own business, you should think big."

think outside the box[edit | edit source]

To "think outside the box" means to think of creative, unconventional solutions instead of common ones.

  • Example: "You won't come up with new ideas until you think outside the box."

throw in the towel[edit | edit source]

To "throw in the towel" means to quit.

  • Example: "She threw in the towel and left."

time's up[edit | edit source]

"Time's up" means that the time for something or someone has ended.

  • Example: "Your time's up, and you have to leave now"

touch base[edit | edit source]

To "touch base" means to make contact with someone.

  • Example: "I need to touch base with Pat on this matter."

under the table[edit | edit source]

Something done secretly (and usually illegally) in the business world is done "under the table."

  • Example: "They probably pay them under the table so they won't have pay tax on it."

up in the air[edit | edit source]

If something is undecided, it is "up in the air."

uphill battle[edit | edit source]

Something that is difficult to achieve because of obstacles and difficulties is an "uphill battle."

  • Example: "Things were kind of up in the air the last time we met."

upper hand[edit | edit source]

If someone has an advantage over someone else, he or she has the "upper hand."

  • Example: "He is always trying to get the upper hand on others"

win-win situation[edit | edit source]

A "win-win situation" is a situation where everyone involved gains something.

  • Example: "We have to come up with a win-win proposition."

word of mouth[edit | edit source]

If something spreads by "word of mouth," people hear about it through informal conversation with friends, family members, acquaintances, etc.

  • Example: "We could use word of mouth marketing as a cheap way to get our product known."

writing on the wall[edit | edit source]

The "writing on the wall" refers to the evidence and clues that something (usually negative) is going to happen.

  • Example: "As the CEO, he should have seen the handwriting on the wall and come up with an alternative idea."

yes man[edit | edit source]

A "yes man" is someone who always agrees with his or her superiors.

  • Example: "You really cannot trust what he might say in front of the boss. Everyone knows that he is just a yes man."

Related Lessons[edit | edit source]


Maintenance script

Create a new Lesson