Speak Business English Like an American
A sample chapter from the book "Speak Business English Like an American" that teaches over 300 important business-related idioms and expressions through 30 lively and realistic dialogues. For more information, go to www.languagesuccesspress.com.
Talking about a New Project
Carl, Greg, and Anne work for WaterSonic Corporation. Recently, the company has come up with an idea for a new electric toothbrush.
Carl: I think we’ve come up with a winner.
Anne: I agree. The new Brush-o-matic toothbrush should be a blockbuster!
Carl: Our designers have already made up some prototypes. The toothbrushes have a tooth-whitening attachment and many other bells and whistles.
Greg: We should fast track this project. Let’s try to launch it in time for the holiday season.
Anne: This will be a great stocking stuffer!
Carl: We definitely need a big win for the holidays.
Anne: This is a great idea. We’re going to make a killing.
Greg: Let’s not talk about this project to anybody who doesn’t need to know. We’ll keep it under wraps.
Carl: I agree. Mum’s the word. We don’t want any of our competitors to get wind of the idea and rip it off!
Anne: Right. Let’s meet again on Monday morning and discuss our game plan for getting this project off the ground!
IDIOMS & EXPRESSIONS
(to) come up with a winner
to think up a very good idea
EXAMPLE: Everybody likes Pepsi’s new advertising campaign. Their advertising agency has come up with a winner.
a big success; a huge hit
EXAMPLE: Eli Lilly made a lot of money with the prescription drug, Prozac. It was a real blockbuster.
ORIGIN: This term comes from the blockbuster bombs used during World War Two by the British Royal Air Force. They were huge and created a large explosive force. Blockbuster ideas similarly create a big impact — and hopefully don’t cause destruction like blockbuster bombs!
bells and whistles
extra product features, usually using the latest technologies; product features which are attractive, but not essential for the product to function
EXAMPLE: Our office just got a new copier with all the bells and whistles. I’ll probably never learn how to use all of its features!
(to) fast track a project
to make a project a high priority; to speed up the time frame of a project
EXAMPLE: Let’s fast track this project. We’ve heard rumors that our competitors are developing similar products.
a small gift given at Christmas time
EXAMPLE: These new mini travel pillows will make great stocking stuffers!
NOTE: This expression comes from the practice of kids hanging up stockings that Santa Claus fills (or “stuffs”) with small gifts.
a huge success; a successful product
EXAMPLE: The drug company spent millions on research and development, hoping that one of their new products would be a big win.
(to) make a killing
to make a lot of money
EXAMPLE: Suzanne made a killing on her Google stock and retired at 40.
SYNONYM: to make a fortune
(to) keep something under wraps
to keep something secret; to not let anybody know about a new project or plan
EXAMPLE: I’m sorry I can’t tell you anything about the project I’m working on. My boss told me to keep it under wraps.
NOTE: “Wraps” are things that provide cover, so if something is “under wraps” it’s covered up and hidden.
mum’s the word
let’s keep quiet about this; I agree not to tell anyone about this
EXAMPLE: Please don’t tell anybody about our new project. Remember: mum’s the word!
ORIGIN: The word “mum” comes from the murmur “mmmmm,” the only sound you can make when your mouth is shut firmly. Try making other sounds besides “mmmmm” with your lips and mouth shut firmly, and you will see that it’s impossible!
(to) get wind of
to find out about something, often sensitive information
EXAMPLE: When the restaurant owner got wind of the fact that one of his waiters was stealing money from the cash register, he was furious.
(to) rip off
to copy an idea; to steal
EXAMPLE: Why doesn’t the Donox Company ever think up any original ideas? All they ever do is rip off their competitors!
NOTE: “Rip off” is also a noun. Example: We were charged $10,000 for a small advertisement in the newspaper. What a rip off!
an action plan; a plan for how a project will proceed
EXAMPLE: The software company’s game plan is to expand its operations into China and India over the next year.
ORIGIN: In football, a “game plan” is a strategy for winning.
(to) get something off the ground
to get started on something, often a project
EXAMPLE: We’ve been sitting around talking about this project for months. It’s time to take action and get it off the ground!
QUIZ: PRACTICE THE IDIOMS
Choose the best substitute for the phrase or sentence in bold. To take this quiz online in an interactive format, please click here.
1) Did the company think of this new product idea themselves? No, they ripped it off from an inventor.
- a. No, they paid an inventor for the idea.
- b. No, they stole the idea from an inventor.
- c. No, they discussed it with an inventor and he agreed to sell it to them.
2) Andrea is planning to quit her job at the end of September, but mum’s the word.
- a. don’t tell anybody
- b. don’t tell her mother
- c. she may change her mind
3) Sony has made a killing on its popular PlayStation line.
- a. lost money on
- b. made a lot of money on
- c. decided to stop producing
4) After receiving a large loan from the bank, the company was finally able to get its project off the ground.
- a. get started on the project
- b. cancel the project
- c. borrow money
5) That new software company seems very disorganized. Do they have a game plan?
- a. a plan for closing down their business
- b. a plan for developing new games
- c. a plan for how they will proceed to grow their business
6) Some experts recommend that when you’re interviewing for a new job, you keep your current salary under wraps.
- a. you should tell the interviewer what your current salary is
- b. you should say you’re making twice as much as you’re really earning
- c. you should not say how much you’re currently earning
7) Don’s new cell phone has a video camera and all sorts of other bells and whistles.
- a. fancy features
- b. things that make loud ringing noises and whistle tones
- c. features typical in a low-priced product
8) When investors got wind of the fact that the pharmaceutical company’s major drug increased the risk of heart attacks, the company’s stock price fell.
- a. hid
- b. discovered
- c. got fed up over
No comment given.
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