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Which Industries Have The Most Confusing Language?

Every industry has its own jargon – the shorthand language used by people within the profession to communicate with others ‘in the know’. From ‘low hanging fruit’ in business to ‘adjourn’ in the legal world, or ‘snagging’ in the context of construction and property, there are hundreds and thousands of buzz words and acronyms that we’re likely to run…

Young woman with her hands over her ears, looking annoyed

Every industry has its own jargon – the shorthand language used by people within the profession to communicate with others ‘in the know’. From ‘low hanging fruit’ in business to ‘adjourn’ in the legal world, or ‘snagging’ in the context of construction and property, there are hundreds and thousands of buzz words and acronyms that we’re likely to run into throughout our lives, not all of which will be easy to decipher.

However, given that we may encounter this jargon when dealing with large events such as buying and renovating a property, during medical treatment and when learning the professional ropes in a new industry, it is important to have a grasp of some of the more common terms and phrases that are used.

Thankfully, with modern technology it is easy enough to search for a word on Google or another search engine and get a quick and easy translation. With this in mind, we wanted to find out which jargon we are searching for the most frequently, and which industries have the most confusing language overall.

Which Industries Have The Most Confusing Jargon?

Using lists comprising of thousands of words, acronyms and phrases from 28 different industries, we were able to use Google data to reveal which industry lingo we have been searching for the most, over the past year? Looking at search terms such as ‘what does [jargon term] mean’, ‘what is [jargon term]’ and ‘[jargon term] definition’ to capture all the ways we may try and decipher tricky terminology, the results provide a fascinating insight into the industries that boggle our brains.

At the top of our list is IT and Telecoms, which may come as no surprise to anyone who’s tried to troubleshoot a laptop or Wi-Fi system. Professionals within the IT and Telecoms industry are responsible for the elements keeping our computer and communication systems up and running, which no doubt comes with a lot of technical terminology and acronyms – after all, when we visit a website, ‘www.’ is an abbreviation of ‘World Wide Web’!

Second on the list is finance, which is an area that proves troublesome to many people in one way or another, whether managing personal finances, applying for loans, or figuring out how to get the best deals. Finances play a huge role in our day to day lives, so being unsure of the lingo will make things much more difficult and could even lead to some financial mishaps along the way, which everyone would rather avoid. With research suggesting that as many as 7 in 10 people [1] are confused by financial terminology, it may well be worth taking the time to learn the basics.

Next up is the legal industry – again, a sector that could easily confuse anyone the first time they have to deal with it. The legal industry is full of highly trained professionals who deal with contracts on behalf of clients, removing us from much of the complexities, however with lengthy multi-step processes to any negotiation or contract, it’s only to be expected that we will need to understand some of the terminology at some point. From getting married or divorced, to buying property or dealing with probate and wills, having a basic knowledge of legal terminology can prove very helpful during some of life’s more stressful moments.

Healthcare (7th), education (10th), property (11th) and construction (13th) also feature within the top fifteen industries with the most confusing jargon, all of which are industries that the day-to-day customer will have to decipher to some degree, numerous times within their lives. More surprisingly, marketing/PR (4th) and the news sector (5th) round off the top five industries, despite the jargon associated with these industries generally kept more behind closed doors, between employees in the sector – given they’re much less public-facing than the other industries referenced in our research.

Which Terms Are Confusing Us The Most?

Using long lists of terms from each industry, we were also able to find out which specific terms are the most confusing overall:

The acronym ‘CRM’ is revealed as the most confusing term overall, with almost 8.5 million searches for the term worldwide. Used in marketing as well as retail, customer relationship management describes the process of managing interactions with both prospective and existing customers, often using software and technology. CRM strategies aim to improve how an organisation engages with existing customers and leads, such as managing their personal information and analysing their purchasing behaviours.

‘ADHD’, which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder follows in second place, likely due to the spotlight on the number of people that have either been recently diagnosed or are currently seeking a diagnosis and treatment for the condition.

Financial terms such as ‘recession’, which sits in third place, ‘equity’, ‘APR’ and ‘interest’ also feature heavily among the terms that people are trying to understand the most – which no doubt reflects the heightened interest in finance as a result of the cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation and interest rates.

‘Matter’ rounds off the top five words that people are trying to understand the most, with almost 6 million average searches for the term. The word ‘matter’ can be used in several contexts, but most frequently in the legal and agricultural fields. In law, a ‘legal matter’ is another way of referring to a situation, issue or dispute that is subject to laws and regulations, where you would seek the advice of a lawyer to help you find a resolution. On the other hand, ‘matter’ in agriculture is often ‘organic matter’ – the plant or animal tissues within the soil, which can be found in various stages – from living to decomposed. This organic matter is a contributor to soil health, with most plants benefitting from increases in soil organic matter, particularly where the soil is high in clay or sand.

The remainder of the most searched for terms also paint an interesting picture in the context of the current landscape we are living in. ‘API’, ‘IP’ and ‘Algorithm’ which are terms from marketing, IT and legal industries can all be understood through the lens of social media and Artificial Intelligence (AI), shedding light on why they may be such popular terms to understand at the current time. The technology behind Instagram and TikTok, social media algorithms are the recommendation systems that power our feeds and deliver us the content we see when we open the apps – they are also the subject of much criticism and interest, for the way they aim to capture users’ attention. APIs or ‘application programming interfaces’ determine how third-party apps can interact with the data held by these social media platforms, and in the case of Reddit, are scrutinised for the level of access that they allow. IP, or ‘intellectual property’ is also a hot topic of discussion, as AI software creates new content from that which is already in existence, sparking debate over who should hold the rights and royalties for such work.

Aside from these highly topical terms, seven of the top 15 most searched for terms worldwide are acronyms – so if you are sharing content or speaking to someone that is not ‘in the know’, it is always best to explain the full meaning of the phrase rather than use an abbreviation.

Jargon Translations: The Guide

Although Google is great for revealing the meanings of words we may not understand, it can be handy to have a ‘cheat sheet’ to refer to as well, where many of these terms are all in a single place. So, with this in mind, we’ve looked at the top terms across our 28 industries and have put together our very own ‘Jargon Translations’ guide, to give you the meanings of some of the most confusing industry jargon.

The full guide can be downloaded below, and bookmarked for the next time you need legal help, or just have a handyperson round to help with some more complicated home improvement tasks.


Google Keyword Planner was used to find both the most searched for jargon terms, as well as the most jargon heavy industries. To do this, we created a list of terminology from 28 industries, compiling terms from online glossaries and jargon-based discussions, before using Google Keyword Planner to find the worldwide annual search volume for each, using the terms ‘what does [JARGON] mean’, ‘what is [JARGON]’ and ‘[JARGON] definition’. The volumes for each were combined to create the final ranking.

Data correct as of June 2023.


GSI, May 2023 –