Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Urban Dictionary

Mind-hacks?  Stoicism? What’s that for both questions?

How Indifference can become source of power?

‘People are disturbed Not by things but by their view of things.

If you consider that you have no choices, forget it and let go?

We do this to our philosophies. We redraft their contours based on projected shadows, or give them a cartoonish shape like a caricaturist emphasising all the wrong features.

This is how Buddhism becomes, in the popular imagination, a doctrine of passivity and even laziness, while Existentialism becomes synonymous with apathy and futile despair.

Something similar has happened to Stoicism, which is considered a philosophy of grim endurance, of carrying on rather than getting over, of tolerating rather than transcending life’s agonies and adversities.

No wonder it’s not more popular. No wonder the Stoic sage, in Western culture, has never obtained the popularity of the Zen master.

Even though Stoicism is far more accessible, not only does it lack the exotic mystique of Eastern practice; it’s also regarded as a philosophy of merely breaking even while remaining determinedly impassive. What this attitude ignores is the promise proffered by Stoicism of lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.

It ignores gratitude, too. This is part of the tranquility, because it’s what makes the tranquility possible.

Stoicism is a philosophy of gratitude,  rugged enough to endure anything. Philosophers who pine for supreme psychological liberation have often failed to realise that they belong to a confederacy that includes the Stoics.

‘According to nature you want to live?’ Friedrich Nietzsche taunts the Stoics in Beyond Good and Evil (1886):

O you noble Stoics, what deceptive words these are! Imagine a being like nature, wasteful beyond measure, indifferent beyond measure, without purposes and consideration, without mercy and justice, fertile and desolate and uncertain at the same time; imagine indifference itself as a power – how could you live according to this indifference?

Living – is that not precisely wanting to be other than this nature?

Is not living – estimating, preferring, being unjust, being limited, wanting to be different?

And supposing your imperative ‘live according to nature’ meant at bottom as much as ‘live according to life’ – how could you not do that? Why make a principle of what you yourself are and must be?

This is pretty good, as denunciations of Stoicism go, seductive in its articulateness and energy, and therefore effective, however uninformed.

As legions of warriors and prisoners can attest, Stoicism is not grim resolve but a…|By Aeon

Which is why it’s so disheartening to see Nietzsche fly off the rails of sanity in the next two paragraphs, accusing the Stoics of trying to ‘impose’ their ‘morality… on nature’, of being ‘no longer able to see [nature] differently’ because of an ‘arrogant’ determination to ‘tyrannise’ nature as the Stoic has tyrannised himself.

Then (in some of the least subtle psychological projection you’re ever likely to see, given what we know of Nietzsche’s mad drive for psychological supremacy), he accuses all of philosophy as being a ‘tyrannical drive’, ‘the most spiritual will to power’, to the ‘creation of the world’.

The truth is, indifference really is a power, selectively applied, and living in such a way is not only eminently possible, with a conscious adoption of certain attitudes, but facilitates a freer, more expansive, more adventurous mode of living.

Joy and grief are still there, along with all the other emotions, but they are tempered – and, in their temperance, they are less tyrannical.

If we can’t always go to our philosophers for an understanding of Stoicism, then where can we go?

One place to start is the Urban Dictionary. Check out what this crowdsourced online reference to slang gives as the definition of a ‘stoic’:


Someone who does not give a shit about the stupid things in this world that most people care so much about. Stoics do have emotions, but only for the things in this world that really matter. They are the most real people alive. (Question: what could be “what matter”? Is that a personal selection of what is important?)

Group of kids are sitting on a porch. Stoic walks by.

Kid – ‘Hey man, yur a fuckin faggot an you suck cock!’

Stoic – ‘Good for you.’

Keeps going.

You’ve gotta love the way the author manages to make mention of a porch in there, because Stoicism has its root in the word stoa, which is the Greek name for what today we would call a porch. Actually, we’re more likely to call it a portico, but the ancient Stoics used it as a kind of porch, where they would hang out and talk about enlightenment and stuff.

The Greek scholar Zeno (From Tyr in Lebanon) is the founder, and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius the most famous practitioner, while the Roman statesman Seneca is probably the most eloquent and entertaining. But the real hero of Stoicism, most Stoics agree, is the Greek philosopher Epictetus.

He’d been a slave, which gives his words a credibility that the other Stoics, for all the hardships they endured, can’t quite match.

He spoke to his pupils, who later wrote down his words. These are the only words we know today as Epictetus’, consisting of two short works, the Enchiridion and the Discourses, along with some fragments.

Among those whom Epictetus taught directly is Marcus Aurelius (another Stoic philosopher who did not necessarily expect to be read; his Meditations were written expressly for private benefit, as a kind of self-instruction).

Among those Epictetus has taught indirectly is a whole cast of the distinguished, in all fields of endeavour.

One of these is the late US Navy Admiral James Stockdale. A prisoner of war in Vietnam for 7 years during that conflict, he endured broken bones, starvation, solitary confinement, and all other manner of torture. His psychological companion through it all were the teachings of Epictetus, with which he had familiarised himself after graduating from college and joining the Navy, studying philosophy at Stanford University on the side.

He kept those teachings close by in Vietnam, never letting them leave his mind even when things were at their most dire. Especially then. He knew what they were about, those lessons, and he came to know their application much better than anyone should have to.

Stockdale wrote a lot about Epictetus, in speeches and memoirs and essays, but if you want to travel light, the best thing you could take with you is a speech he gave at King’s College London in 1993, published as Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus’s Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior (1993).

That subtitle is important. Epictetus once compared the philosopher’s lecture room to a hospital, from which the student should walk out in a little bit of pain. ‘If Epictetus’s lecture room was a hospital,’ Stockdale writes, ‘my prison was a laboratory – a laboratory of human behaviour. I chose to test his postulates against the demanding real-life challenges of my laboratory. And as you can tell, I think he passed with flying colours.’

Stockdale rejected the false optimism proffered by Christianity, because he knew, from direct observation, that false hope is how you went insane in that prison.

The Stoics themselves believed in gods, but ultimately those resistant to religious belief can take their Stoicism the way they take their Buddhism, even if they can’t buy into such concepts as karma or reincarnation.

What the whole thing comes down to, distilled to its briefest essence, is making the choice that choice is really all we have, and that all else is not worth considering. ‘Who […] is the invincible human being?’ Epictetus once asked, before answering the question himself: ‘One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.’

Any misfortune ‘that lies outside the sphere of choice’ should be considered an opportunity to strengthen our resolve, not an excuse to weaken it.

This is one of the truly great mind-hacks ever devised, this willingness to convert adversity to opportunity, and it’s part of what Seneca was extolling when he wrote what he would say to one whose spirit has never been tempered or tested by hardship:

‘You are unfortunate in my judgment, for you have never been unfortunate. You have passed through life with no antagonist to face you; no one will know what you were capable of, not even you yourself.’

We do ourselves an immense favour when we consider adversity an opportunity to make this discovery – and, in the discovery, to enhance what we find there.

Another shrewdly resourceful Stoic mind-hack is what William B Irvine – in his book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy­ (2009)– has given the name ‘negative visualisation’. By keeping the very worst that can happen in our heads constantly, the Stoics tell us, we immunise ourselves from the dangers of too much so-called ‘positive thinking’, a product of the mind that believes a realistic accounting of the world can lead only to despair.

Only by envisioning the bad can we truly appreciate the good; gratitude does not arrive when we take things for granted. It’s precisely this gratitude that leaves us content to cede control of what the world has already removed from our control anyway.

How did we let something so eminently understandable become so grotesquely misunderstood? How did we forget that that dark passage is really the portal to transcendence?

Many will recognise in these principles the general shape and texture of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Indeed, Stoicism has been identified as a kind of proto-CBT. Albert Ellis, the US psychologist who founded an early form of CBT known as Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) in 1955, had read the Stoics in his youth and used to prescribe to his patients Epictetus’s maxim that ‘People are disturbed not by things but by their view of things.’ ‘That’s actually the “cognitive model of emotion” in a nutshell,’

Donald Robertson tells me, and he should certainly know, as a therapist who in 2010 wrote a book on CBT with the subtitle ‘Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy’.

This simplicity and accessibility ensure that Stoicism will never be properly embraced by those who prefer the abstracted and esoteric in their philosophies.

In the novel A Man in Full (1998), Tom Wolfe gives Stoicism, with perfect plausibility, to a semi-literate prison inmate. This monologue of Conrad Hensley’s may be stilted, but there’s nothing at all suspect about the sentiment behind it. When asked if he is a Stoic, Conrad replies: ‘I’m just reading about it, but I wish there was somebody around today, somebody you could go to, the way students went to Epictetus. Today people think of Stoics – like, you know, like they’re people who grit their teeth and tolerate pain and suffering. What they are is, they’re serene and confident in the face of anything you can throw at them.’

Which leads us naturally to ask just what it was that was thrown at them.

We’ve already noted that Epictetus had the whole slavery thing going on, so he checks out. So does Seneca, in spite of what many have asserted – most recently the UK classicist Mary Beard in an essay for the New York Review of Books that asks: ‘How Stoical Was Seneca?’ before providing a none-too-approving answer.

What Beard’s well-informed and otherwise cogent essay fails to allow for is just how tough it must have been for Seneca – tubercular, exiled, and under the control of a sadistically murderous dictator – no matter what access he sometimes had to life’s luxuries.

It was Seneca himself who said that ‘no one has condemned wisdom to poverty’, and only an Ancient Greek Cynic would try to deny this. Besides, Seneca would have been the first to tell you, as he told a correspondent in one of his letters: ‘I am not so shameless as to undertake to cure my fellow-men when I am ill myself. I am, however, discussing with you troubles which concern us both, and sharing the remedy with you, just as if we were lying ill in the same hospital.’

Marcus Aurelius lay ill in that hospital, too. As beneficiary of the privileges of emperor, he also endured the struggles and stresses of that very same position, plus a few more besides.

I know better than to try to improve on the following accounting, provided in Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life:

He was sick, possibly with an ulcer. His family life was a source of distress: his wife appears to have been unfaithful to him, and of the at least 14 children she bore him, only six survived. Added to this were the stresses that came with ruling an empire. During his reign, there were numerous frontier uprisings, and Marcus often went personally to oversee campaigns against upstart tribes. His own officials – most notably, Avidius Cassius, the governor of Syria – rebelled against him. His subordinates were insolent to him, which insolence he bore with ‘an unruffled temper’. Citizens told jokes at his expense and were not punished for doing so. During his reign, the empire also experienced plague, famine, and natural disasters such as the earthquake at Smyrna.

Ever the strategist, Marcus employed a trusty technique in confronting the days that comprised such a life, making a point to tell himself at the start of each one of them:

‘I shall meet with meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable people.’ He could have been different about it – he could have pretended things were just hunky-dory, especially on those days when they really were, or seemed to be. But how, then, would he have been prepared to angle both into the wind and away from it – adapting, always, to fate’s violently vexing vicissitudes? Where would that have left him when the weather changed?

Note: If you consider that you have no choices, forget it and let go? Then studying and acquiring knowledge is to extend more choices to events. A stoic must seek ways to expand his choices, the hardest of work to select among many possible choices and work on the choice.


The Urban Dictionary Of Design Slang

The designer terms you need to know,

And quite a few terms most designers would love to never hear again.

Joining the ranks of any profession is the same as committing yourself to learning an entirely new language, most of which is frankly gibberish. (TPS reports, anyone?)

(Every discipline love to invent its own terminology in order to give the illusion that it is a profession in the trade)

Design is no exception.

We asked some of our friends at design firms—including Pentagram, Ammunition, Huge, Ziba, Pensole, Google Ventures, Sagmeister & Walsh, and more—to define their favorite examples of design slang and jargon.

The answers we received range from serious to tongue-in-cheek, but if you’ve ever been puzzled by a designer telling you he needed to “ideate a more approachable FTUX” or “add more value to that horsey megamenu,” this resource should help you translate.

We’ve updated the post below to contain a few more definitions, and we will continue to update this story with new definitions supplied by our readers: just leave a comment or Tweet at @FastCoDesign with the hashtag #DesignJargon to get your entry added. Let us know if we missed anything!

2×2 n. The design world’s favorite visualization of strategy. Typical axis labels include “high cost/low cost” “emotional/rational” “mild/wild” (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


A bunch of numpties n. A group of idiots. Can also be used to refer to placeholder elements on a page that have zero UX thinking behind them. (Source: Kate Proulx, Huge)

A magnet that acquires meaning n. A design that gets recognized over times, and becomes associated with people’s experiences. For example, your first MP3 player. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Above the fold adj. “This term is about whatever content can be seen on a web page before the user starts to scroll. It originates from the print industry, where above the fold meant the top half of a front page on a folded newspaper. This term is disliked by many designers I know (myself included) because we know that although first impressions are very important, users will inevitably scroll down a page to see the remainder of the content. Also, the “fold” in digital is different depending on what device the user is on, so designing with a specific size in mind will actually do more harm than good.” (Source: Natalie Be’er, Huge)

Add more value v. Something a client requests when a project is already overbudget. (Source:  

D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Approachable adj. Something super boring. (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

ASAP  adv. “This acronym really irritates the shit out of me, so I believe it means this: As Slow As Possible. Otherwise, why not give me a fucking date?” (Source:  

Eddie Opara, Pentagram)

Authentic adj. Something fabricated to feel like it was not fabricated. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Authoritative adj. An antonym for friendly. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Big data n. A number, table, chart, or database that may be very large or very small, but is dependably very impressive. (Source: Alex Geller, Fathom)

Brainstorm session n. “We’ll get together and sell you our ideas in a casual group forum.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Celebrate v. In sneaker design, a way to say: “Make it look like the old shoe.” (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Charrette n. Because designers don’t sound pretentious enough already, so let’s throw in a French word. (Source: Jake Knapp, Google Ventures)

Classic adj. A politically correct way of saying ‘boring.’ (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Clean adj. Example: I want a design that looks clean. Undefinable. No one exactly knows what this means. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse); Smooth and uninterrupted design. The visible elements are functional, not embellished. Easy on the eyes. (Source: @SoftGoodsJess on Twitter)

Collaboration n. A project combining the inputs of multiple people. Frequently used in place of the traditional “client/consultant” or “employee/employer” title. Collaborator is seen as a more valuable relationship working as peers. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Collaborative adj. Working with your partners, instead of just telling them what to do. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Collaborative process n. Client would like to make the decision. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Commercial adj. Something that works now, rather than when the product will actually come to market (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Contemporary adj. A solution that is fresh and appropriate to the current marketplace. A classy, slightly longer-term version of trendy. The opposite of retro. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Content n. What used to be called “writing.” (Source: Carl Alviani, Ziba)

Cool adj. An adjective used to describe any color associated with blue. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Creating an experience v. Designing a banner ad you can click on. (Source:  

Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)

Crisp adj. A design with tight edges and materials. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Critical Path n. The most important things you need to pay attention to in a design. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Data ink ratio n. If your information design were a car, this would be its miles per gallon rating (Source: Brian James, Fathom)

Decorative adj. A four-letter word. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

Design research n. See: research. Adding the word “design” in front makes your focus groups seem less like total bullshit. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Design thinking n. Just a fancier word for brainstorming. See also: ideating. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse); Gluing innovation and collaboration together with some common sense and some flash cards. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Disruptive adj. A design that both changes the market and simultaneously references what currently exists. No one likes it. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole); Break some rules until we realize we can’t really break any rules. (Source: Paul O’Connor, Ziba)

Do a walkthrough idiom. Translation: try to stay awake. (Shawn Harrington, comments)


Ephemera adj. A fancy word for printed material that has a short life span. Usually posters, brochures, or invitations. (Source: James Grady, Fathom)

Executive review n. An overly simplified presentation of actual work. (Source: nitishq on Twitter)

Experience n. The gestalt of a complete solution that considers the solution of a core product as well as all the surrounding context like packaging, messaging, and customer journey. Most designers see themselves as responsible for a consistent positive experience with a product or brand rather than resolving just the core product. Also called UX. Few designers would not see “experience” as their expertise. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Exploring notions of typographic instability v. “I’m putting the outlines of several different typefaces on top of each other.” (Source: Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)


Familiar adj. A term non-designers use to say they like something. See also: progressive. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Faster adj. Put more shit on a design. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Feature creep n. When a client requests more deliverables with the expectation of no additional cost after a project is bid and underway. (Source: Linda Cobb, Bumpercrop Studio)

Feminine adj. Anything tasteful. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Fit and finish n. Use this phrase to make it seem like you embody Apple’s design principles. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Flat adj. Ugly. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

FPO adj. An acronym technically meaning “For position (or placement) only.” What it really means: stock photography sucks, please let us actually shoot this. (Source: Colin Murphy, Huge)

Framework n. “A diagram that proves I am right.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Frankensteining v. The combination of the best parts of multiple independent concepts into a single uber-concept. Beware this siren song. The sum is rarely greater than the parts. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Fresh adj. A synonym for something that feels new. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

FTUX n. A vaguely profane sounding acronym meaning “First Time User Experience.” See also: NUX. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)


Gating item n. Something that prevents a design from going to market. Example: “We don’t want packaging to be the gating item.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Give them a finger idiom. Intentionally placing a glaring mistake (e.g., typo in headline) so the client points their finger at that mistake, rather than pointing their finger at something more fundamental. (Source: Joel Emmett, comments)

Grilled cheese n. A menu icon represented by two stacked lines. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

GSP idiom. Acronym for “get shit paid.” (Source: Nyuudo on Twitter)

Guerilla adj. Typically paired with “research,” guerilla can refer to any process that is done quickly or without a completely rigorous process. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Guidelines n. Telling a client exactly what to do—forever. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)


Hack v. A quick and dirty approach to problem-solving. To hack is to be a free-thinker and unafraid to break rules in search of the right answer. The cool new version of prototyping is hacking. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Hamburger n. A menu icon represented by three stacked lines. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Holistic approach n. Translation: “Let us do everything for you, we need the money.” (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Honking adj. Ugly. Synonym of ‘horsey’, just more fun to say. (Source: Julie Bunnick, comments); Too big in general. (Source: Normalcod, comments)

Horsey adj. Ugly. See also: honking. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba); Too big or ungainly for the space it’s in. (Source: Norcalmod, commnets)


I showed this to my (wife / husband / other)… phrase. “I don’t like the concept, but would rather attribute the criticism to someone else.” (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)

Ideating v. Another fancy word for brainstorming. See also: design thinking. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)

Ideation n. “Give me time to think about stuff.” (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Immersive experiencen. Low hanging fruits on the design tree that sound impressive. See also: multi-sensorial touchpoints. (Source: derjo_de on Twitter)

In progress idiom. “This means that we either don’t like a design yet, or there are things wrong with it we haven’t figured out yet.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group); “We have nothing to show you, because we haven’t started working on your project yet.” (Source: Charles Samuels, comments)

In real time idiom. A solution that is developed on the fly without prior planning. This has a more positive connotation than saying “unprepared.” (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Industrial chic adj. Unknown. Something made by wealthy artisans? (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Infographic n. The same information that’s in the text, but in a different font and with a lot more pictures. (Source: Carl Alviani, Ziba)

Innovation n. Not doing things in the same top-down bureaucratic way as you were doing them before. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Insight n. Translation: what came up when I Googled “trend” plus the name of your industry. Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

Internal review n. “We need to see what we’ve actually done so far.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Intuitive adj. The “ideal” product interaction. Based on the assumption that there are built in instincts in all human beings that provide the keys to a product experience that is easy and enjoyable. Examples of intuitive interactions are often in fact just familiar. What may be intuitive to one person (based on his/her experience) may be counter-intuitive to another person. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Invitational adj. A synonym for friendly. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Iterate v. “Try another version, please.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Magical interaction n. Any design with magnets. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Makai target consumer n. A nebulous, imaginary consumer who can be retrofitted to support anything it is that I’m saying at any given moment. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Make it look like Apple v. “We have no idea what we want.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Make it sexy v. “We have no idea what we want.” (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Marketer n. “A term I was once called trying to push through a bus shelter ad with very witty copy.” (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Masculine adj. Any design with straight lines and angles. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Megamenu n. A dropdown menu with a ton of content. (Source: Deroy Peraza, Hyperakt)

Merch together v. Make it all the same color. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Modern adj. Something that looks good, but your client doesn’t know what it is. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge); Looks like an iPod. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Multi-channel adj. An obsolete term people use when they mean “multi-device” instead. (Source: Kate Proulx, Huge)

Multi-sensorial touchpoints n. Low hanging fruits on the design tree that sound impressive. See also: immersive experience. (Source: derjo_de on Twitter)


New material n. “We’re still trying to find a spot for that uber-cool but expensive ceramic we saw once.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Not fully resolved adj. “We’re probably going in the wrong direction.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

NUX n. A vaguely profane sounding acronym meaning “New User Experience.” See also: FTUX. (Source: Mark Kawano, Storehouse)


On-trend adj. A back-handed compliment similar to fast follower. Applying proven ideas rather than pushing forward. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Pain points n. Things that will be difficult for people. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Parallel path n. “There’s a difference in opinion. May fate shine on the winner in terms of schedule and budget.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Pivot v. Where a client spins around and becomes something else, like a ballerina! (Source: Eddie Opara, Pentagram)

Pop of color n. Literally anything that has color when other things don’t. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Problem set n. “The things you already asked us to work on.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Progressive adj. An adjective designers use to say they like something. See also: familiar. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)


qualitative research n. “We only had time to interview four users.” (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

quantitative research n. The infinite monkey theorem in practice. (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)


Rag n. The edge of the text that no one but designers cares about. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Rapid prototyping n. Quickly verifying an idea rather than assuming you are right, typically using a 3-D printer and Arduino. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Relevance n. The appeal of a solution to a particular user group. Companies find it especially difficult to maintain cultural relevance as technologies change. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Research n. Something you should do, even though nobody will listen. (Source: Nate Bolt, Ethnio)

Robust solution n. “We think it will work.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Shaping someone’s understanding v. Design that conveys to the audience the underlying strategy or message. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Sleek adj. The generic term for things that feel cool, modern, and or “designy.” Frequently heard in focus groups as a positive. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Slow consumer n. Someone who doesn’t know what’s cool. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Slower adj. Put less shit on it. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Sustainability n. A wide-ranging term which captures all the philosophies on how to make responsible choices to protect our environment. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Synthesize v. “We’re going to take what we heard you want, pick out the best stuff, and throw away the rest.” (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)


Tasty adj. A term meaning ‘attractive design’ driven into the ground by yuppies in the late 70’s and early 80’s. (Source: Packgraphics in the comments)

Technical debt n. “I hacked this together to hit the deadline, and now we have to rebuilt it so it doesn’t explode.” (Source: mrBallistic on Twitter)

Thinking outside of the box v. What you did last year. (Source: Stefan Sagmeister, Sagmeister & Walsh)

Third read n. A solution that has been considered to a very high level of detail. The designer has considered elements that won’t be appreciated by the user until they look at the product for the third time. Interest in this level of solution is seen as a sign of craftsmanship. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Tight adj. Well-resolved. A design that features perfect detailing. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Timeless adj. A solution that will not be embarrassing in the future. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

TM n.The process of trademarking a new slogan, name, or other communication to express a new approach to design-based problem solving. This cliché captures the design industry’s thirst for invented words that describe innovative processes. The most desirable trademarked terms are mashups of two established concepts (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Too-pushed-on adj. Translation: you’ve gone too far. (Source: D’Wayne Edwards, Pensole)

Touchpoints n. Places in a design where something happens. (Source: Team, Ammunition Group)

Trendy adj. Typically, a dirty word in the design world, referring to a solution that appeals to the short-lasting whims of society. The opposite of timeless. See contemporary. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Understated elegance n. Something overpriced without too much explanation. (Source: Jesse Reed, Pentagram)

Universal Design n. The search for solutions that appeal to humanity as a whole. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Unsophisticated. adj. Ugly. (Source: Chelsea Vandiver, Ziba)

Up-level v. To identify a more significant problem or opportunity beyond the original request. Up-leveling a conversation shows your ability to think big picture. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)

Usability study n. “Get more numbers to convince the team and push obvious design solutions.” (Source: [url=]nitishq on Twitter)

User advocate n. Most designers seek to represent the needs of a potential customer and provide a counterpoint to the myopic point of view that is common within large companies. Related to experience design. (Source: Dana Krieger, Minus-8)


Voice-controlled adj. Something that increases your budget by a factor of 10. (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)


Warm adj. An adjective used to describe any color associated with red. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

White space n. Those blank areas. (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Widow n. When a lonely word is left on a line by itself. (Be nice! Give it a friend!) (Source: Katie Henderson, Huge)

Wireless adj. Something that increases your budget by a factor of three. (Source: Todd Greco, Ziba)

Wordmark n. Not just a font. A special font. (Source: Sagi Haviv, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

What did we miss? Sound off in the comments or tweet at us (@FastCoDesign) using the hashtag #DesignJargon.




June 2023

Blog Stats

  • 1,522,168 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 770 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: