Jargon: When to (Not) Use it

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In our article about the thirty-second intro, we mentioned how unnecessary jargon is something which shouldn’t be used if we want to be clear and concise with our communication. Now, we delve deeper into the nitty-gritty of jargon, and when it should and shouldn’t be used.

Firstly, what does it mean?

Jargon, as defined by a simple Google search is “special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand.”

We can have business jargon, legal jargon, literary jargon among others.

And it is no surprise then that the word “unnecessary” gets attached to the word “jargon” way too often.

But is it that unnecessary?

Let us think about it.

The right, good kind of jargon can actually communicate something really complex quite easily.

Not using the specific terminology can dramatically oversimplify a concept, leading to miscommunication, misunderstanding and perhaps even misinformation.

And the way communication takes place nowadays, we use jargon often unknowingly.

Take for example:

“Keep me in the loop.”

“What is your package?”

“The notice period ends in a couple of days.”

“It’s a win-win situation.”

Imagine explaining these in a simpler language. Not that it is impossible; it certainly is. But would it have the same weight?


So, what are the things you can keep in mind to make sure your jargon doesn’t come across as unnecessary? Clear communication is the goal.

  • Look who you are talking to:

If you are talking to someone who is at a managerial/executive position, basically someone who is in a senior position, chances are they are experienced with the jargon.

But if you are talking to, say a person who clearly doesn’t belong to your “department”, then chances are they won’t understand you as well as you think they should.

Take your audience into consideration before using jargon, because you don’t want people to feel excluded, talked down to, or just simply confused.

It’s okay to use it for convenience in meetings and conferences where there are going to be people of your profession, who will understand exactly what you mean. But even here, you have to be careful. Read on.


  • Convenience :

See if you are using the jargon for the sake of convenience or because you want to create an “impression.”

Are you conveying a complex idea in a few words by using the jargon? Or are you complicating an idea by using over-the-top, pompous language? The former should be the case if the jargon has to be used.


  • Know the Time and Place:

It is important to make sure it is the appropriate jargon, for appropriate place and the setting.

Imagine using inappropriate Internet jargon in a corporate setting with an audience of CEOs and COOs. Saying something like TTYL is not the way to end that meeting, even if it “conveys” what you wanted to say.

Again, the point about keeping your audience in mind is to be remembered.


  • Know Well What You Are Saying:

Use idioms, proverbs, abbreviations and everything “jargon” only if you are absolutely sure about the meaning.

If you aren’t sure about the meaning of a terminology, don’t use it. Say the statement in the way you understand it, without the jargon, so that people don’t misunderstand it.

One way to gauge how much you know is to ask yourself:” if someone asks me its meaning, would I be able to explain it in simple language?”  If the answer is yes, go ahead, and use the expression. If no, then you may want to rethink what you want to say.


The key in using jargon is to not over-use anything. Remember, over-use leads to clichés. Clichés bore people. Bored people won’t have good attention spans. Low attention span means low information retention.

Jargon in itself is not unusable. It can convey something with surprising clarity and brevity, if used in the right sense, in the right place, at the right time in front of right people. It is up to us how we choose to use it. We have to be mindful about when it may become unnecessary.