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buzzword bingo

Buzzword bingo is a game played during meetings with cards featuring buzzwords (such as "incentivize," "think outside the box," "push the envelope" and "wave a dead chicken") in place of the numbers of traditional bingo cards. A buzzword bingo card typically features 25 squares, five down and five across, including a free "bingo" square somewhere on the card as a bonus. Buzzword bingo apps make it possible to play the game on a mobile device during a meeting.

Buzzword bingo is a simple game with few rules. Participants mark words and phrases on the card as they are spoken during a meeting; the first person to mark five terms in a row is supposed to jump up and shout "Bingo!" In more repressive environments, a participant may notify other players that they've scored through some surreptitious means, such as specific gesture or a text message. A player may not speak a buzzword term in order to mark it off. However, baiting one's colleagues to elicit buzzwords from them is widely considered acceptable -- and even laudable -- behavior.

Tom Davis, one of the founders of SGI, invented buzzword bingo in 1993. According to legend, the idea occurred to Davis after he saw a number of jargon terms on a blackboard in a colleague's office. David wrote a buzzword generator program and printed out cards full of phrases like "step up to it," "intellectual capital" and "paradigm shift." He passed the cards out to employees with a note: "The ball's in your court."

 

This was last updated in June 2016

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