Ode to Jargon, a Limerick

The jargon is often quite dense,
and often eludes common sense ,
at the end of the day,
say what you may,
I am certain it’s not what you meant.

Linda Moore, President & CEO,
Yakima Valley Community Foundation 

Jargon. It seems so benign. What could be so wrong with using the expressions ‘wrap-around services’, ‘collective impact‘, or ‘philanthropic value proposition’?

As David Ogilvy so eloquently stated: “Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.” Put another way: You may think jargon makes you sound smart. But the “smarter” you sound, the dumber your listener likely feels. 

Jargon really gets on my nerves. It’s why I write about its nefarious nature in Pitchfalls, in this post about board members and hiccups, and this one where (for our collective and individual sanity), I assertively encourage you to embrace a more straight-forward way of speaking.

If you want people to engage, invest, support, donate, volunteer and/or serve as your advocates or fans, you’ll be well served by systematically eradicating jargon from your marketplace of words.

NOTE: It costs you nothing to stop using jargon. It costs you everything if you don’t succeed in getting people engaged in your work and talking about it to others! Don’t let something as simple as jargon get in your way.

Liked this? Get more.


  1. Amen, sista! This made my Monday. 🙂


  1. […] speak. There are some exceptions that may have the opposite effect, such as using slang words and jargon that outsiders wouldn’t understand. But in general, if you can’t see yourself using it in […]

  2. […] If you work for a 501(c)3 and you are not a private foundation, your nonprofit is deemed a public charity. By definition, that means you exist to serve the public. Yet, so often, you use language that is meaningless to people outside our organizations. It’s called jargon, and we’ve advised against it in the past. […]

Speak Your Mind