Every industry has its jargon, and the financial industry is no exception. Below is a collection of the oddest business and investing terms found on Investopedia.
Liven up a conversation and tell folks you prefer "ankle biters" to "big uglies," that you expect a "dead cat bounce," but that you'd never take a tip from a "dip." To get you on your way to more lively investment conversations, here's a list of inspired terminology.
- Like every industry, finance has its own jargon that wouldn't make sense to people who aren't familiar with the terms or subject material.
- Knowing what the obscure lingo means can help you in your investment life as well as make you appear more knowledgeable to others.
- Some common slang words in finance are "big uglies," which refer to older companies, and "dead cat bounce," which is a small, short-lived rise in the price of a falling security.
Business and Investing Terms
Ankle biter: Small-cap investment.
Bagel land: A slang term that represents a stock or other security that is approaching $0 in price. Arriving in bagel land is usually the result of one or more major business problems that may not be resolvable.
Bear hug: An offer made by a would-be acquirer to buy a company's shares for far more than they're worth. This usually happens when the target company's management isn't inclined to sell and needs extra enticement.
Cockroach Theory: A theory that bad news to the public usually means there is more bad news behind the scenes, which likely will come out eventually. Also can refer to industry trends whereby one company goes under and other similar companies will follow.
Crummey power: A technique that enables a person to receive a gift that is not eligible for a gift-tax exclusion and change it into one that is eligible. Crummey power often is applied to contributions in an irrevocable trust, often in respect to life insurance.
Dead cat bounce: A small, short-lived rise in the price of a falling security, such as a stock. Even a falling dead cat will bounce when it hits the ground.
Eat your own dog food: The basic premise is that if a firm expects paying customers to use its products or services, it should expect no less from its own employees. Not using its own products for internal operations may imply that a company does not believe its products are best-of-breed, despite its public proclamation of the fact, and that it has more confidence in a rival's offerings.
Over time, the meaning of some words can change or fall out of use. Make sure you're up to date with the most recent lingo before using terms in important settings, such as interviews or when closing a big deal.
Godfather offer: An offer that cannot be refused; typically a tender offer pitched so high that management of the target company is unable to discourage shareholders from accepting it.
Killer bee: An individual or firm that helps a company fend off a takeover attempt.
Piker: Someone—typically working for a bottom-tier firm—who pretends to know everything about Wall Street but doesn't actually know anything.
Rust Bowl: Conjuring up images of abandoned factories and rusting vehicles, the term essentially epitomizes catastrophic economic change.
Shark watcher: A firm hired to watch for takeovers by monitoring trading, the accumulation of shares, and any noteworthy activity.
Smurf: Money launderer, or one who seeks to evade scrutiny from government agencies by breaking up a transaction involving a large amount of money into smaller transactions that are below the reporting threshold.
Stagflation: Slow economic growth during a time of high unemployment and high inflation.
In the 1970s, developed nations entered into a period of stagflation, which was a serious economic issue at the time.
Suicide pill: A defensive strategy used by acquisition targets in which they make themselves far less attractive to a (usually hostile) takeover. For example: taking on mounds of debt to scare off an acquirer. This can imperil the target company and still not be successful in scaring off a determined acquirer. The suicide pill defense can be viewed as an extreme version of the poison pill.
Sushi bond: A bond issued by a Japanese issuer in a market outside Japan and denominated in a currency other than the yen.
Tip from a dip: Advice from a person who claims to have inside information, such as substantially higher than expected earnings or government approval of corporate mergers, that will materially impact a stock's price but actually doesn't.
Tulipmania: This was the first major financial bubble, which peaked in March 1637. Investors began to purchase tulips madly, pushing their prices to unprecedented highs; as prices drastically collapsed over the course of a week, many tulip holders instantly went bankrupt.
Whartonite: A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The term is sometimes used in a derogatory way to describe the perceived character of a typical graduate; namely snobbish.
Zombie debt: A type of bad debt that is so old a person may have forgotten they owed it in the first place.
What Is the Most Common Stock Market Slang?
The most common stock market slang words include "bear market" (a market in which prices are falling), "bull market" (a market in which prices are rising), and "blue chip" (established, safe, and highly-valued companies).
Why Is Using Slang Inappropriate in a Business Setting?
A business setting is traditionally a more conservative setting that values decorum, class, and intelligence. Using slang in a business setting is considered inappropriate as it defies those values and makes one appear less sophisticated than some business professionals would prefer. Of course, this primarily applies to the different levels in management or to those individuals not familiar with each other. Business and finance have also historically been considered an old boy's club where familiarity is accepted.
What Is the Slang Term for the Stock Market Increasing and Decreasing in Value?
When the stock market increases in value over an extended period of time, it is known as a bull market. When the market decreases in value over an extended period of time, it is known as a bear market.
The Bottom Line
Investing can be fun, and fun to talk about, not to mention that knowing the lingo is a handy tool for getting an insider's perspective and turning a "piker" into a "Whartonite." It can also help with business connections and landing jobs.