10 Business English Slang Words used in daily Spoken English

In this Business English lesson, you’re learning Business English slang words with me, Michelle. Let’s look at a English speaking conversation between me and my friend Patrick whom I met last Saturday. Practice these English slang phrases, as they are generally used by native English speakers in their spoken English and improve your English.

Michelle: What happened? Why that long face?

Patrick told me that he was called on the carpet by some of the big wigs for missing his deadlines and they told him if he doesn’t start pulling his weight around here, they’re going to demote him to a paper-pusher. Not only that they warned him that they might make him work graveyard too, I told him.

Michelle: Well, Patrick you better get cracking or these slave drivers are going to can you for sure. I’m sure you’ll hate to pound the pavement again.

Let’s look at the conversation again with the meaning of each “slang/idiom”:

Called on the carpet/ rack over the coals –

To reprimanded i.e. spoken to angrily or seriously for doing something wrong, usually by a person in authority.

Example: can also be used for your teacher/ parent –

I was called on the carpet by the teacher for talking in the corridor.

I was called on the carpet by my parents for sneaking out last night.

Bigwigs / big shot/ top brass/ higher ups (plural)

Meaning:  executive i.e.  a person in charge of the business, one is at an authoritative position, for example, the CEO of a firm or the Principal of a school.

Example: If you want to use it for somebody you know who was at a lower position in the beginning but now they are one of the higher ups, you could say: Maria’s first job was as a secretary. Now she’s a big wig in her company.

Deadlines –

Meaning: completion dates

Pulling one’s weight –

Meaning:  doing his share of work

Example: My friend Patrick never does his share of work that’s why the bosses told him to pull his weight around.

Paper-pusher –

Meaning: clerical desk worker i.e. someone who does boring admin tasks that require large amounts of paper work.

Example: If you are currently doing a boring job you can say that “I’ve been a paper pusher in a law firm for two years. I need to find a job that’s more interesting and fun”.

Work graveyard –

To work the late night shift from midnight to 8:00 A.M.

Example: If you like to work late night then you can legally say- “I prefer working graveyard because I can do errands early in the day.”

 Get cracking/ get the ball rolling

To start working

Example: If you plan on finishing your assignment before you leave on vacation, you’d better get cracking.

Slave drivers – relentlessly demanding bosses

Example: If your boss demands excessive work– “Our new boss is a slave driver.”

To can – to fire

Meaning: Literally it means preserved food, here as an idiom it means “to fire someone from a job”

Example: You might get canned for wasting time at work.

 Pound the pavement – look for employment

Example: Have you been looking for a job for a long time and haven’t found one? then you could say- “I’ve been pounding the pavement for three weeks and I still can’t find a job. “


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