Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Word of the day: suboptimal

Our office is a little unconventional. We work hard, we play hard, we let off steam and we start all over again. For some, the language is colourful. For one in particular, swearing is as natural as the air she breathes.

In an attempt to curb her swearing steam-release valve, one team member has self-initiated a swear chart. There are point values for certain words and a chain of terms will earn a bonus point. Each calendar month, she aims to reduce her overall office swear tally. It began in March with a target of 50 points, meaning that she would shout a round of drinks for everyone in our part of the office if the target was met.

Unfortunately, the first month's target was not only met but exceeded, with 50 points accrued by 16 March and almost half a month to go. April was a little better with 48 points earned. We're halfway through May and the total is sitting at just 11. A reformed swearer? Or are we just so attuned to these words that we're no longer conscious of when they're uttered? To be fair, she is very good at self-reporting, sometimes emerging from a meeting room to take up a whiteboard marker and add tallies to the chart without even explaining herself.

We may have found another solution to help our highly strung swearing colleague. Someone suggested a new word of the day: suboptimal. Apparently it's acceptable as both a word and a sentiment. It can be embellished with emotion and gestures but is not offensive in itself.

Looking at its definition, it could work well in everyday conversation. Here are some examples:
"That idea is suboptimal."
"This document is completely suboptimal."
"I don't know what you're thinking but it sounds quite suboptimal to me."
"Another suboptimal meeting." *rolls eyes*
It wouldn't always work, though. Try saying these paraphrased sentences:
"Suboptimal off, you suboptimal piece of suboptimal!"
"Why doesn't anyone suboptimal listen to me?"
Will it work? Only time will tell if this is just another suboptimal idea.

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