After doing the exercises in 'Buzzwords', you may like to look at the other activities in this topic, 'Jargon' and 'Slang'. It is important to bear in mind that these categories are not rigid and can overlap, that a word can slip from one to another, and that they are mainly useful in giving us ways to look at the words of the recent past and at changing usage and meanings.

Buzzwords are powerful and much-repeated words of the moment, often used by journalists or 'movers and shakers' in business, politics, and other contexts. They may be new words ( such as, sleaze), new combinations of old words (such as, name and shame) or words that take time to become buzzwords (such as postmodern). They may fade quickly from use as other buzzwords take over, or they may become clichés. Here is a selection of words which are, or have been, buzzwords:


Match the meanings to the following buzzwords...

Feel-good factor

Name and shame

Mission statement

Compassion fatigue


Safe sex

Zero tolerance

Post modern

Third way

Tax and spend



The result of too many demands to contribute to charities (noun 1985)

An object or action that results in sensations of well-being (noun 1984)

A succinct expression of the main aims of an institution (noun 1976)

Publishing the names of those who have broken rules, laws or conventions or deceived others (verb1991)

Going back to more traditional forms of art or architecture (adjective 1949)

The use of protection in sex, especially condoms, to guard against sexually transmitte diseases (noun 1983)

Immorality or corruption in high places (noun 1983)

The policy of raising more money to fund better public services (verb 1991)

A new centrist political approach (noun 1990)

Applying immediate punishment to lawbreakers (noun 1982)


What buzzwords crop up in schools and colleges? List them.