Corporate Culture

Have any of you ever experienced curious jargon in the office? I guess the reason is to be an “insider”. The oddest one here at Boeing is that no-one ever calls an airplane a “seven-thirty-seven” or a “seven-forty-seven”. It’s always “seven-three-seven” and “seven-four-seven”. The only concession I’ve heard is that they will sometimes refer to the 777 as “triple-seven”.

Since this is the main product line around here it kind of stands out. Even people (like me) who are in no way connected with the commercial airplane side of the business, whose only experience with Boeing aircraft is flying in them as paying passengers, we still have to call them “seven-six-seven” to avoid being labelled as an ignoramus.

When I worked at Caterpillar we were cautioned not to refer to those tracked vehicles with the blade on front as Caterpillars, but that was in order to protect their brand name. They didn’t want to end up like aspirin. For the record the official name was “track-type tractors”. We didn’t even call them bulldozers, since technically the bulldozer is the blade and not the tractor. Most of the world wouldn’t make that distinction but it made sense in context.

My dad is a long-haul trucker and he is mortally insulted if you call a pickup a truck. In his world trucks have eighteen wheels. That four wheel object is a pickup. We used to razz him by referring to his pickup as a “utility vehicle” but now that SUVs are popular our joke has become reality.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Yeah, I’ve noticed that in the publishing business (oxymoron) that everyone outside of Editorial refers to books as “product.”

And it’s starting to creep into Editorial.


“seven thirty seven” and “seven forty seven” sound a lot alike on a garbled radio connection. “seven three seven” and “seven four seven” are more distinct. Boeing is just saying it the same way their end users do.

The only jargon I’m aware of that we use where I work (it’s a software company) which is not also widely used by our customer base is that for some of our product lines we remove decimal points from the version number when talking about them internally: 98.0 becomes “980”.

Started with a new law firm recently and we call interrogatories (written questions in discovery) Rogs. It’s fun to say, rogs.

When I worked for Dunkin’ Donuts, the finished donuts were referred to as “product.” Not food, not donuts, “product.” Never did understand that.

Some days I think hear nothing but jargon. Way much to list here, so I’ll just go with an example that relates to the OP’s story.

On the street, Boeing’s products are often referred to orally by the first two digits. “Delta placed an order for 16 seven-threes to upgrade their shuttle service”. Airtran just took delivery of the first seven-one." And it’s always single-digit-at-a-time, never “Seventy Three”

The aircraft leasing crowd, as you would imagine, is slightly more precise. They sometimes refer to the OP’s company’s product solely by the middle number and the series number. BA’s current workhorse narrowbody, for example, is a three-eight, which distinguishes it from the prior series, the three-seven and from the three-twos that now are worth only a couple of million each.

In both cases, the planes are written in full. 737-800.

We also refer to companies by their ticker symbols, but you already figured that out.

In case you care.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

At my previous job, there was an important gross margin report referred to in just about every meeting. (Think “WENUS” from Friends). This was called the 52 Report; nothing to do with weeks, it was generated by using menu option 5, then 2, from a buying program. The particular buying program was relaced three years ago, yet today this is still called the 52 Report.

My cant is called jargon (sorry, borrowed that from Tom). Every industry, every localized field of human endeavor, generates jargon that the players therein use. I don’t think the primary impetus is to distinguish insiders v. outsiders, although that is almost always a result. Almost all jargon has some, maybe not great, reason behind its genesis. In most cases it’s a matter of simplifying a concept that we’re all familiar with, for the sake of brevity and pace in conversation. Some of it is peculiar to a company or organization, and I am convinced that some organizations consciously reinforce that.

Although various English teachers beat me up for it, and I recognize the justification behind their criticisms, frankly, jargon is a large part of the “color” of speech.


Greatings All
Beatle hit the nail on the head re: jargon.
I work in the printing industry and we have
gone so far as asigning numeric codes to
various shades of color in the visible

And nobody knows what the heck a PMS # is…

Are you referring to the Pantone system?

There are fellow printers here?
I am going to like this place!
PMS is more than just a bad day.
t lion

In the radio business, we’ve got the usual raft of jargon.

When records are added to a playlist, that’s an “add,” obviously. New records have an “add date,” on which they are “going for adds.” Naturally, adds are terribly important, and keeping charts of them is a large part of what radio trade papers do.

Transmitters are “sticks,” DJs are “air personalities,” or “talent” – a term picked up from TV – commercials are the “spotload” and a long group of commercials is a “stopset.” The average spotload is increasing, had you noticed?


Much more. I think someone at my company just lives to find new ways to use it (perhaps inspired by the Pantone usage?).

It’s a category: PMS - Popular Message Stamps
It’s a job: PMS - Product Manager Specialist

“It’s bacon!!”

Well, since I work in horticulture, I get to say fun things like Chamaecyparis nootkatensis and giggle at the novices who call Cotoneaster “cotton Easter” (it’s “CA-tone-E-ass-Ter”) and Hosta “host-a” (it’s “haas-ta”, rhymes with “pasta”). Oh, and we call our tractors by some abbreviated form of the alpha-numerical designation given to them by the Case folks, so it’s always “See if there’s an 1845 around.” “Nope, just an XT - and it has forks on it.”

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

We make industrial computers called programmable logic controllers (PLC’s), and the model numbers over the years have been PLC-2, PLC-3, PLC-5, etc… but we just refer to them as Twos, Threes, and Fives.

We recently started building a networking machine, unsurprisingly nicknamed “The Gateway”…

Absolutely nobody in the company but me recognizes that our products exactly mirror the hardware features of Frederick Pohl’s classic sci-fi novel “Gateway”; the alien spaceships found on the Gateway asteroid were nicknamed by the number of astronauts they could hold…

It’s pointless. It’s mundane.