jargonwatch: touch base

Jargon makes you stupid. Resisting jargon makes you smarter. Jargonwatch is here to help.

When we talk about jargon, we’re not talking about complicated specialty jargon, like the kind you want your lawyer to use on your behalf when you’re caught dumping nine gallons of dishsoap into a water fountain in a rich neighborhood. No. We’re talking about the kind people use when they’re trying to sound smarter or more important than they really are.

Today’s offender: “touch base.”

When someone says they want to “touch base” with you, what they mean is that want to talk to you.

Here at Wordmonster, we enjoy a clever turn of phrase. But “touch base” is not a clever turn of phrase. It’s meaningless, brain-eating zombie jargon. Here’s how you can tell:

Imagine “touching base” with another person. What do you see in your mind? Is it a baseball game? Are both of you touching the base?

In baseball, if two people are touching a base at the same time, one of them is out. He or she has to leave the base immediately. There’s no time to talk about the weather, let alone have a lengthy discussion about PowerPoint templates.

Your mind is only as sharp as the words you use. Don’t be dull.