Unemployment lingo

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Mar 7 22:19:06 UTC 2009

I'd be careful about terms like "rightsize" and "synergy-related headcount
reductions." I've never heard this actually used by anyone in industry, but
they get a lot of play by journalists and others precisely because they're
too cute by half. I'm sure someone, somewhere has used them in other than a
tongue-in-cheek context, but I think those usages are vanishingly rare.

Another one that is actually used is "RIF" or "reduction in force," both as
a noun and verb, as in "I've been riffed." I think it started as a
government term that infiltrated private industry.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Mark Peters
Sent: Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:41 AM
Subject: Unemployment lingo

I'm doing a column on the many words and phrases for firing people: let
go, downsize, rightsize, shitcan, sack, discard, terminate, pink slip, show
the door, etc.

There are two things I'd like to sip (siphon?) from the collective pool of

1) What other words fit in this category? I have some recent ones like
fit and synergy-related headcount reductions, but there must be

2) Any info on the history of shitcan? The OED doesn't have it, and HDAS
doesn't go that far...



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