Career English: business idioms

Idioms are not only used in everyday conversation, they are also part of business English and will frequently pop up when dealing with colleagues and partners. Here are some useful idioms and phrases that are used in business English, especially during meetings.

  • “Let’s get the ball rolling”.

This idiom is usually used when a project is starting. This is another way to say, “Let’s start the project.

  • “…sharp”

This expression is used to indicate a certain time such as “nine o’clock sharp.” This phrase means that you need to be on time, so if a person says, “the meeting will begin at 12:30 sharp” it means “the meeting will begin promptly at 12:30.”

  • “To fill someone in”

This idiom is often used when a person walks into a situation and has missed some important information. Usually another person will “fill them in” which means that they will let the person know what information they have missed. This idiom is also used outside of business meetings in informal settings to let someone know the information that they might have missed.

  • “Let’s get the show on the road”

This is another idiom that is used to talk about getting things started. Usually the idiom is used to get projects started once all the details have been decided on.

  • Ballpark figure

this idiom means an approximation. You will use it when you want the approximate cost of a certain deal. For example, “Could you give me a ballpark figure for export costs?”

  • Bottom line

Native speakers use this phrase to talk about the conclusion or summary of a discussion. If someone asks you “So what is the bottom line?” during a conversation, they are asking you to give them the summary of everything you have said. Additionally, in business terms, ‘the bottom line’ can also refer to a company’s net earnings.

  • In black and white

this idiom means something ‘in writing’.Think about a piece of paper – most likely it will be white with the text written in black. For example, if someone tells you they need the terms of an agreement ‘in black and white’, it means that they need them to be very written down. Also, a ‘black and white’ situation can also refer to a very clear choice that causes no confusion.

  • Blow a deal

Hopefully, this won’t happen very often, but this idiom means that the business deal won’t be going ahead. So if you ‘blew a business deal’ with a client, it means your contract with them didn’t happen, often because a mistake was made.

These are just some of the idioms that are used during business meetings. What are some of the most common idioms that are used in your language?