58 Words and Phrases That Got Us Through a Crazy Decade in Business
An Occupy Wall Street protester sleeps on the ground before a demonstration in New York. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

58 Words and Phrases That Got Us Through a Crazy Decade in Business


(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Brexit. Bigly. Fiscal cliff. Hipster antitrust. You can learn a lot about the decade we just got through by recalling the language we used—invented, repurposed, or plucked from obscurity—to describe it. So, here are 58 words and phrases, mostly business-related, that define 2010-2019. They’re in chronological order of their peak in popularity, according to Google Trends. 

With apologies to Barbra Streisand (and Merriam-Webster, which originated this pun), here is ... The Way We Word.

Tea Party
April 2010

peak oil
April 2010
Oil production didn’t peak; this phrase did.

double-dip recession
August 2010

quantitative easing
November 2010

January 2011
too long; didn’t read

March 2011
Adjective for loans with few covenants to protect lenders.

cloud computing
March 2011

too big to fail
May 2011
Month of the release of the HBO film of that name.

Arab Spring
October 2011

October 2011
As in, “Occupy Wall Street.”

chronic traumatic encephalopathy
May 2012

May 2012

green washing
September 2012

fiscal cliff
December 2012

identity theft
February 2013

October 2013

doom loop
November 2013
The fatal interdependence of indebted banks and indebted governments.

March 2014 

October 2014

November 2014

swipe left
February 2015
Huge spike for swipe left but not for swipe right. Why?

range anxiety
March 2015
The fear that an electric car will run out of juice.

secular stagnation
April 2015
Depression-era term revived by Harvard economist Larry Summers.

April 2015

July 2015
Greek exit from the euro zone, which didn’t happen.

zero lower bound
April 2016
The theory that interest rates can’t go negative.

May 2016 

June 2016
British exit from the European Union, which will happen.

September 2016

October 2016
Trump actually said “big league,” but bigly is so much more Trumpian.

Make America Great Again
November 2016

1 Percent
November 2016
But “1%” is trendless.

deaths of despair
March 2017

September 2017 
Spiked in the U.S., where it refers to people addressed in the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

December 2017

December 2017

Tide Pod Challenge
January 2018
Teens daring each other to eat detergent.

January 2018

active-shooter drill
February 2018

July 2018

Operation Car Wash
September 2018
The South American corruption scandal.

fake news
October 2018

Me Too
October 2018

yellow vest
December 2018
France’s protest movement.

hipster antitrust
January 2019

Green New Deal
February 2019

February 2019
Leaving a relationship, or a job, without saying goodbye.

Modern Monetary Theory
March 2019

Planet B
March 2019
As in the environmental message, “There is no Planet B.”

“Belt and Road” initiative
April 2019

April 2019

May 2019
Cannabidiol, a derivative of marijuana.

June 2019
Such a common word that there was no sharp spike when it began to catch on as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. Same story with “woke,” which peaked in November 2019

June 2019

deep fake
July 2019

August 2019

gig economy
September 2019

coworking space
September 2019

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Eric Gelman at egelman3@bloomberg.net

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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