Americanisms explained: Your A-Z guide

Office jargon is used in offices all over the world, however American expressions seem to be more prevalent in UK offices these days.

Phrases known as Americanisms are now being used amongst British colleagues, many using them without knowing their origin or even having a full understanding of their meanings.


American expansion experts Foothold America have come up with an A-Z of business-related Americanisms that have made their way into the workplace and deciphered some of the more obscure phrases. Is it a worry that British offices are becoming more American? The language may be seeping through the cracks of the British office, but the British work ethic is still the same.

Here is a sample of the strangest Americanisms making their way into British offices:

  • Arrows to Fire – A term used in reference to the points someone may use when putting forward an argument.
  • Boil the Ocean – This refers to an individual attempting to undertake an impossible task, usually because the task is too broad in scope.
  • Fishing Expedition – A fact-finding mission, or a concerted effort to find something faulty.
  • Triangulate – To involve a third person or party.

Robert Johnson, co-founder of Foothold America, said:

“This A-Z list details some of the lesser used office jargon that many of us are yet to hear or even use, deciphered for you to understand their meanings.

“While many will be aware of common Americanisms such as ‘touch base’ and ‘going forward’, we wanted to pick out some other expressions that are not as common in the hope that they can be of use to anyone who may be relocating to the US and struggling to understand the office jargon.”