Workplace Jargon: 9 Death Metaphors on Dia de los Muertos

For many, November 1 is a day spent gorging on candy by the pillowcase. But today isn't simply the day after Halloween. It's Dia de los Muertos and we're going to celebrate with jargon.

In honor of Halloween's counterpart, we're shedding light on nine of the best death metaphors workplace jargon has to offer. We've discussed the death metaphor before – perhaps you recall the notion of concept-based metaphorical jargon – but below you'll find the ones we'd most like to send to the graveyard.

Death Jargon in the Workplace: You're Killing Us

  1. End-of-life – Whether a fast food toy or a software release, certain products lack longevity. Not to worry. They're not dead to us; they've just reached their end of life. In related death jargon, planned obsolescence is perfect for those occasions when you know exactly when the end should come.
  2. Zombie projectHaven't we met before? A zombie project is one that keeps coming back to life no matter how many times it's been ... sunsetted. If you come across the familiar corpse of a project you thought you'd drilled a stake into (I mean properly decapitated), know that while it may never come back to life completely, it will forever remain undead.
  3. Post-mortem – We've hijacked this medical examiner's term. As workplace jargon, a post-mortem represents the deep dive following an EOL to determine what worked and what went wrong. Points of analysis may include: stakeholder satisfaction, end-user satisfaction and perceived quality of final deliverables. Get all that?
  4. Pick your battle – The thing about battles is we tend to fight them to the death. So, you know, choose wisely.
  5. Collateral damage – Like the death metaphor, war metaphors are deeply entrenched in our jargon lexica. In the military, collateral damage refers to the incidental destruction that accompanies an intended target, usually non-combatant death. Think of it as the biggest of "oops," whether at war or work.
  6. Terminated – One of the originals in the death metaphor space, to be terminated can't get any softer – or harder. On one hand, it's skirting the "fired" issue, which may be construed as "too graphic." On the other, you've replaced fired with terminated. Is anyone else imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg assassin machine-gunning the no longer employable? You've been terminated.
  7. Thrown under the bus – Everyone's favorite way to imply they've been sacrificed against their will.
  8. Kill switch – This is something you pull when it's time to EOL.
  9. Put a fork in it – And this is something you probably did just prior to pulling said switch.

And with that, I'm done, too. Don't be a fatalist. Share your favorite Dia de los Muertos-themed jargon in the comments.