buzzword bingo word cloud

Go on, admit it: considering how many business buzzwords you know, you have already played buzzword bingo at least once in your “corporate life”.

You haven’t?

Well, maybe it’s time to start playing!


We have prepared some buzzwords for you. We have added their meaning, their origins, and some examples of how to use them in context. So you know what you are talking about.

We have also sprinkled some tech buzzwords to spice up your reading.

Fun Fact: The Origins of Bingo

A similar game was played as far back as 1530 in Italy.

The modern version was created by Hugh J. Ward in the early 1920s and was further popularized by Erwin Lowe. The name seems to be due to one of Lowe’s friends who yelled “Bingo!” when she won.


Playing buzzword bingo can be fun, but when you’re the one doing the presentation, you might want to avoid them (for the less funny situation when your colleagues decided to play the game without letting you know).

It’s not that you really want to use buzzwords instead of meaningful words, but sometimes you don’t know a good synonym for the buzzword.

We have started the list of buzzwords with our “pet peeves”: agile, proactive, and pivot. We will keep adding buzzwords to the list, so bookmark the article, you never know when you’ll find a “golden nugget”.


Let the Buzzword Bingo Begin!



Origin: From Latin agilis, from agere “to drive, be in motion, do, perform” + -ilis

First use: 14th century

Original Meaning:
– marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace an agile dancer
– having a quick resourceful and adaptable character an agile mind
– quick, smart, and clever

Origin of the buzzword:  It was first used as part of the software development methodologies usually based on incremental and iterative development, and who adopted the Agile Manifesto (2001). Since then the meaning expanded to incorporate all the areas of a business and the company itself.

Playing the agile buzzword bingo. Some examples:
– agile software development
– agile leader
– agile buzzword bingo
– agile management practices
– organizational agility
– IT, marketing, or supply chain agility

You can replace the agile buzzword with:
– Accelerate the activities on the critical path
– React quickly
– Respond quickly to threats
– Learn and adapt fast
– Be quick to change the business models when needed
– Execute strategy faster than the competition
– Keep innovating
– Be quick to respond to customer feed-back
– Be able to anticipate change and implement it quickly
– Initiate action



Origin: relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning (e.g. proactive inhibition of memory).

First use: 1933

Origin of the buzzword:  Until recently, the word reactive (as in people who tend to react to a problem only when it’s gotten serious) didn’t have an antonym.

Proactive was coined to describe the opposite of a reactive person.

In this sense, it means a person who is always looking into the future and acting in anticipation of future problems, needs and changes.

Playing the proactive buzzword bingo. Some examples:
– to take proactive steps to improve a situation
– a proactive approach
– a proactive attitude
– being proactive in finding answers to an important issue

What you can say instead:
– far-seeing
– forward-looking
– visionary
– discerning
– insightful
– sage
– wise



1: a shaft or pin on which something turns
2: a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect; a key player or position
3: the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor

First use: 14th century

Origin of the buzzword:  Pivot has been used in the buzzword form starting from 2008 when Eric Ries published his famous bestselling book The Lean Startup.

It means “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth“.

It implies not only a change of direction but more a sudden, rapid change of direction and focus. It implies that the company is essentially abandoning its previous efforts in order to make a concerted effort towards a new goal.

Translated: when plan A doesn’t work, it’s time for plan B.

Or, as Steve Blank puts it: “changing (or even firing) the plan instead of the executive (the sales exec, marketing or even the CEO)

As seen in:
– pivot a business model
– pivot or persevere
– startup pivot

What to say instead: If you had enough of “pivot”, you can replace it with:

The initial idea (project, business model or test) didn’t work, it’s time to try something else.