All terms

What is Jargon?

Specialized language used by a particular group that may be difficult for others to understand.

Navigating the Jungle of Jargon: What It Is, Why It Exists, and How to Work with It

Have you ever listened to a conversation between two professionals in a field you're not familiar with, only to feel like they're speaking a foreign language? If so, you've encountered jargon. It's specialized language that people in a particular group or profession use to communicate with one another.

Jargon can be difficult for outsiders to understand because it often relies on technical terms and concepts that aren't widely known. For example, if you overhear a conversation between two computer programmers, you might hear terms like 'backend,' 'front end,' or 'user interface.' To someone outside that field, those terms may be confusing or meaningless.

But while jargon can be frustrating or confusing for outsiders, it's also a necessary part of many professions. It allows professionals to communicate more quickly and efficiently with one another, using shorthand that's precise and accurate.

So, if you're new to a field or struggling to keep up with conversations that include jargon, what can you do? One approach is to simply ask for clarification. Most people will be happy to explain a term or concept if you ask them to. You can also try to learn more about the field or profession on your own, reading books or articles that explain technical concepts in plain language. And if you're producing writing for a general audience, it's often wise to avoid jargon altogether or to explain any technical terms you do use in language that anyone can understand.

Talking the Talk: Examples of Jargon in Literature

Jargon isn't limited to technical or professional fields - it can also be used in literature to add depth and realism to a character or setting.

Legal Jargon in To Kill a Mockingbird

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the character of Atticus Finch is a lawyer who frequently uses legal jargon when he's discussing a case or talking to other lawyers. This not only adds realism to the character but also emphasizes his professionalism and expertise in his field.

Medical Jargon in Grey's Anatomy

The television show Grey's Anatomy is set in a hospital and frequently features characters using medical jargon to discuss diagnoses, treatments, and the human body. This not only adds realism to the setting but also helps to establish the characters' authority and expertise in their profession.