Euphemisms for incompetence.

Euphemisms for incompetence.

Euphemisms for incompetence.

Slate's audio offerings.
March 12 2007 4:35 PM

A Rock With Arms

And other euphemisms for workplace incompetence.

To listen to Slate's latest euphemisms audio contest, featuring language columnist Barbara Wallraff, click the arrow on the player below: 

Andy Bowers Andy Bowers

Andy Bowers, the creator and executive producer of Slate podcasts, is the co-founder and chief content officer of Panoply.

You can also click here *  to download the MP3 file.


You know that lazy, boneheaded colleague in the next cubicle? The one who should have been fired long ago, but somehow continues to sprinkle mediocrity on everything he touches? In January, we asked you to help us come up with good euphemisms for these people. Now our audio euphemism contest curator, language columnist Barbara Wallraff, is back with some of her favorite submissions.

You don't need an iPod or other portable audio device to hear the program—you can play it right from your computer with the Flash audio player above.

And for our next listener contest, Barbara is looking for euphemistic ways of saying that someone is, you know, totally hot. For example, there's the HR specialist who warned employees against telling co-workers they looked attractive, suggesting as an alternative: "You look very professional today." Of course, the listener who sent us this story said professionalquickly became a euphemism for beautiful around his office.

As always, we strongly recommend that you listen to the program before submitting an entry. Here are the details:

Submit a euphemism for: Attractive, beautiful, hot.
The deadline: March 31, 2007
The e-mail address:
The prize: None (sorry). But winners will be noted on Barbara's Web site, (visit the Library section to find previous winners), and she may include worthy entries in a future book much like her most recent book, Word Fugitives.

(By entering this contest, you grant Slate permission to use your name, unless you expressly request otherwise.)

For comments, not contest entries, write us at

* To download the MP3 file, right-click (Windows) or hold down the Control key while you click (Mac), and then use the "save" or "download" command to save the audio file to your hard drive.