Business idioms and financial jargon illustrated
An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning whereas Jargon is a type of language that is used in a particular context —usually a specific trade or profession— and may not be well understood outside of it. Here you have a list of some of the most common idioms and jargon used in business. I’ve also included some sayings and terms that may come in handy in some business situations. This post will be regularly updated with new idioms and jargon.
A Company man
- A company man. Spanish: hombre de empresa. Business idiom. Example: John’s a company man. We can trust him. He’ll keep his mouth shut.
Captain of industry
2. Captain of industry. Spanish: jefe de la industria. Business idiom. Example: Today we are having lunch with a captain of industry.
(to) cut one’s losses
3. (to) cut one’s losses in Spanish: recortar gastos. Business idiom. Example: It’s time for Pear Enterprises to cut their losses and negotiate.
(to) go public
4. (to) go public. Spanish: Salir a bolsa. Financial jargon.
(to) go belly up
5. (to) go belly up . Spanish: Irse a pique. Business idiom.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch
6. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Spanish: No hay duros a cuatro pesetas. Saying. Example: Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
7. Green shoots (the first signs of an improvement in an economy). Spanish: brotes verdes. Business idiom. Example: The tentative green shoots of recovery seem to be withering away.
8. Chicken feed (a very small amount of money). Business idiom.
9. Big fish in Spanish: pez gordo. Business idiom. Example: He’s a big fish in a very small pond.
10. Shark (e.g. loan shark). Shark in Spanish: tiburón (also in a figurative sense). Financial jargon. M&A is usually a dog-eat-dog shark tank business…
11. 800-pound gorilla. Business idiom.
(to) foot the bill
12. (to) foot the bill. (to) foot the bill in Spanish: pagar la factura (sometimes called “la dolorosa”). Business idiom. Example: One way or another, citizens always have to foot the bill.
(to) be broke
13. (to) be broke (to have no money). (to) be broke in Spanish: estar sin blanca. Business idiom.
Money doesn’t grow on trees
14. Money doesn’t grow on trees / Money don’t grow on trees. Saying.
Native speakers will often use the form “Money don’t grow on trees” in informal situations as it’s faster to prononce “don’t”, due to the fact it has one less syllable. In Spanish “El dinero no cae del cielo” (literally money doesn’t fall from the sky) conveys the same meaning.
(to) be rolling in money
15. (to) be rolling in money / (to) be rolling in it. In Spanish, “estar forrado”. Business idiom. Also: (to) be made of money
16. Money talks (you can do what you want with money). In Spanish one cas say “poderoso caballero es don dinero” (literally, Mr Money is a powerful gentleman) conveying the same meaning. Business idiom.
Money doesn’t give happiness
17. Money doesn’t give happiness. In Spanish, “el dinero no da la felicidad”. Saying.
A rising tide lifts all boats
18. A rising tide lifts all boats. Saying.
Time is money
19. Time is money (e.g. In other words, in international trade, time is money). In spanish “el tiempo es oro” (literally time is gold). Saying.
(to) call a loan
20. (to) call a loan. Financial jargon.
21. Ill-gotten gains (e.g. These ill-gotten gains are laundered and go into circulation in the legal economy). Spanish: ganancias ilícitas. Business idiom.
22. Money laundering is the process of transforming the profits of crime and corruption into ostensibly ‘legitimate’ assets. (e.g. The EU had also introduced measures to monitor and prevent money-laundering). Spanish: blanqueo de dinero. Financial jargon.
Money for jam
23. Money for jam (e.g. Selling cold drinks with a vending machine is money for jam when it is very hot).· also money for old rope. Spanish: dinero fácil. Business idiom.
(to) be worth its weight in gold
24. (to) be worth its weight in gold (e.g. His ideas are worth its weight in gold). Spanish: valer su peso en oro. Saying.
25. It’s a win-win (Beneficial to each of the two parties). Spanish: ventajoso para todos. Business idiom.
26. (to) skyrocket. Spanish: dispararse. Financial jargon.
27. Margin call. Spanish: ajuste de márgenes. Financial jargon.
28. Liquid assets. Spanish: activos líquidos. Financial jargon.
29. Cash cow. Cell phone accessories are a cash cow for our business. Spanish: vaca lechera, gallina de los huevos de oro… Business idiom.
30. Bull market. Spanish: mercado alcista. Financial jargon.
Bear Market / Bearish market
31. Bear Market: A stock market where a majority of investors are selling (“bears”), causing overall stock prices to drop. Financial jargon.
32. Bear market. Spanish: mercado bajista. Financial jargon.
33. Venture capital. Spanish: Capital riesgo. Business idiom.
34. Hostile takeover. Spanish: compra hostil. (Hostile bid: OPA hostil). Financial jargon.
35. Ninja loans. Financial jargon.
36. Real-estate bubble. Also: housing bubble or property bubble. Spanish: burbuja inmobiliaria. Financial jargon.
37. Tax haven or tax shelter. Spanish: paraíso fiscal. Financial jargon.
A debt paid is a friend kept
38. [Saying] A debt paid is a friend kept. Saying.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
39. [Saying] Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth French: Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l’auras. Saying.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
40. [Saying] A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Saying.
All that glitters is not gold
41. All that glitters is not gold. Saying.
A promise is a promise
42. A promise is a promise. Saying.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
43. [Saying] Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket
A square deal
44. Square deal (A fair agreement). Spanish: trato justo. Business idiom.
45. Nest egg. Spanish: fondo de reserva. Business idiom.
46. Short selling. Spanish: venta a corto, venta al descubierto. Financial jargon.
Stocks / Shares
47. Blue chips 48. Growth stocks 49. Defensive stocks 50. Income stocks 51. Value stocks Financial jargon.
52. Junk bond: A bond which is considered below “investment grade” due to a significant risk of default by the issuer. The interest rate is higher in order to compensate holders for that risk. Junk bond in Spanish: bono basura.
A penny saved is a penny earned
53. A penny saved is a penny earned. Saying.
54. EBITDA Financial and accounting jargon.
55. Credit rating. Spanish: calificación crediticia. Financial jargon.
56. Asset Management. Spanish: gestión de activos. Financial jargon.
57. Leverage: In finance, leverage is any technique involving the use of borrowed funds in the purchase of an asset, with the expectation that the after tax income from the asset and asset price appreciation will exceed the borrowing cost. Leveraging enables gains and losses to be multiplied. Spanish: apalancamiento. Financial jargon.
(to) keep one’s head above water
58. (to) keep one’s head above water. Spanish: mantenerse a flote. Business idiom.
On a shoestring
59. On a shoestring > The documentary was made on a shoestring. Spanish: con recursos mínimos, con un bajo presupuesto. Business idiom.
60. Insider trading > The use of confidential information by an Associate for personal business and insider trading is strictly prohibited. Spanish: tráfico de información privilegiada. Financial jargon.
61. Chinese wall > A set of rules and procedures – known as a Chinese wall – have been established to prevent inside information from reaching the areas responsible for the management of the ECB’s foreign reserves and own funds portfolio. Chinese wall in Spanish: muralla china. Business and financial jargon.
62. Fair trade. Spanish: comercio justo.
Economy of the common good
63. Economy for the common good
64. Comparative advantage. Spanish: ventaja comparativa.
65. Absolute advantage. Spanish: ventaja absoluta.
66. Monkey Business. Business idiom.
67. Banker’s hours. Business idiom.
68. Fixed and floating interests rates. Spanish: tipos de cambio fijos y variables.
69. Quantitative easing in Spanish: expansión cuantitativa
70. Above board > The negociations were long and at times quite difficult, but completely open and above board. Above board in Spanish: sin trampa ni cartón, trato justo. Business idiom.
Rags to riches
71. Rags to riches. Money idiom.
72. Golden handshake. Business idiom.
73. (to) talk shop. Business idiom.
Rome was not built in a day
74. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Saying.
Out of the frying pan into the fire
75. Out of the frying pan into the fire. (French: de Charybde en Scylla). Saying.
76. Market capitalization. Financial jargon.
(to) be sky high
77. (to) be sky-high. Business idiom. Spanish: estar por las nubes. Business idiom
78. Wrapper. Financial Jargon.
It’s good fishing in troubled waters
79. It’s good fishing in troubled waters. Saying.
80. Hard cash (meaning coins or notes, but not cheques or credit cards). Idiom.
81. Double-edged sword
Success and failure
82. Success and failure are two sides of a coin called risk, financial translator.
Never invest more than you can afford to lose
83. Never invest more than you can afford to lose (business saying)
High risk high reward
83. High risk, high reward (business saying)
(to be) born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
84. (to be) born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth: (to be) born into a wealthy and privileged family. Idiom.
85. Back-of-the-enveloipe calculation: quick approximate calculation done informally. Rough calculation, typically jotted down on any available scrap of paper such as an envelope.
(to) have deep pockets
86. (to) Have deep pockets: (to) have a lot of money or abundant financial resources.
(to) be ahead of the game
87. (to) stay / be ahead of the way. to know more about the most recent developments in a particular field than the companies one is competing against. Spanish: Llevar la delantera.
Quit while you’re ahead
88. Quit while you’re ahead: don’t try to improve sth that is already accomplished, specially if it is rewarding but risky.
89. Blank cheque (When someone is given an unlimitted freedom of action. A grant of complete authority to spend an unlimited amount of money, or to take other actions without restraint.) · Example: Generally, courts have held that the First Amendment does not give people of faith a blank check to ignore the law. Spanish: Cheque en blanco.
(to) be coining it
90. (to) be coining it: to be earning a lot of money. Also: (to) be coining money or (to) be minting it/minting money. Spanish: Estar montado en el dólar. Example: She must be coining it in with all those extra shifts.
91. Ballpark number / figure. Spanish: una cifra aproximada. Example: A ballpark figure for the number of staff the company might require would therefore be around 50.
(to) corner the market
92. (to) corner the market. Spanish: dominar el mercado.
Grasp all, lose all
93. Grasp all, lose all. Spanish: la avaricia rompe el saco.
(to) Run the numbers
94. (to) run the numbers = (to) do the numbers. Spanish: echar cuentas. Example: When we ran the numbers it started looking very attractive.
License to make money
95. Licence (UK) License (US) to print money. Spanish: una máquina de hacer dinero.
For a song
96. For a song (very cheap). Spanish: por cuatro perras.
(to) cook the books
97. (to) cook the books). Spanish: amañar las cuentas. Example: The accountant cooked the books and made himself a lot more money
Think outside the box
98. Think outside the box. Example: To increase sales we must begin thinking outside the box.
Across the board
99. Across the board. Spanish: de modo generalizado. Example: Accountability must be applied fairly and across the board.
Fish or cut bait
Idiom: Fish or cut bait, Mark. There’s work to be done here. Decide whether you’re going to watch or help. Spanish: No te quedes de brazos cruzados y haz algo.
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