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Definitions M – Q

Leadership and Business Dictionary

Numbers  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L M  N  O  P  Q R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Machine Code – a.k.a. Machine Language. A computer language, which consists only of numbers, that can be read and interpreted by a computer’s central processing unit (CPU).

Macro – In a computer, a single instruction which results in a complete series of more detailed instructions being put into effect.

Magalog – A catalog which appears to be a magazine, used for marketing purposes.

Magnetic Media – Disks and tapes which are used to record and store computer data.

Mail Merge – The process of automatically personalizing a customized letter or document by using a list of individual names and addresses, so the same letter can be sent to many people.

Mail Order – The purchasing or selling of goods over the Internet, telephone, from catalogs, etc., which are delivered to the customer by mail.

Mainframe – Also known as Big Iron. A large powerful central computer to which a network of smaller computers are connected, used mainly by large organizations,

Majority Interest – Owning more than 50% of the total shares in a company, and therefore more than 50% of the voting interest.

Makegood – In advertising, a free advertising slot given to a company by a TV station, magazine, etc., if the company’s advert was previously run incorrectly.

Make To Stock – In manufacturing, products which are made and stocked before customers orders have been received.

Maladministration – In business or government, the act of incompetence or running a system in a dishonest way.

Managed Economy – An economy in which goods, allocation of resources and prices are determined by the government.

Managed Hosting – A type of Internet hosting in which the hosting supplier deals with technical issues and problems related to the website, in addition to the basic hosting of the website.

Management Buy-In – When a management team from outside a company acquires more than 50% of the company, so they become the majority shareholders, and then manage the company themselves.

Management By-Objectives – MBO. A management style which depends upon quarterly objectives that are taken down to daily activities by the staff. Regular review sessions are scheduled to review the progress of each member of the team. Also based upon mutual agreement of objectives and action plans.

Management By Exception – A management style in which managers give employees the authority to run projects, etc., by themselves and managers only become involved if the employees fail to meet certain criteria or standards.

Manager – A person who is in charge of a project, department, group, team, etc.

Mandatory Convertible Bond – Bonds that must be redeemed in shares by the company which issues them, usually by a specified date.

Margin – The difference in the price of producing a product and the price it sells for, calculated as a percentage, i.e., profit margin.

Margin Account – An account held by an investor with a broker in which the broker lends the investor money to purchase shares, etc., which are then used as collateral against the loan.

Marginal Productivity – The additional output of a product, etc., which is produced as a result of adding one unit of a resource, i.e. labor input, in the production process.

Margin Call – A demand by a broker for an investor to bring his margin account up to the minimum level required by depositing additional money, shares, securities, etc.

Market – The commercial activity of buying and selling goods and services. The customers who buy goods and services.

Market Basket – A way of measuring the cost of living. A collection of products or services which consumers buy on a regular basis, and the prices which are paid for them.

Market Clearing Price – The price of a product or service at which the level of demand equals the level of supply.

Market Control – A situation in which the quantity and/or price of goods or services is influenced by buyers or sellers.

Market Economy – A situation in which businesses operate in a free market, i.e. they are in competition with each other and are not under government control.

Market Forces – Influences, such as the availability of raw materials for the production of goods, or customer numbers, which affect supply, demand and prices of products and services.

Marketing – The promotion and/or selling of a company, product, service, etc.

Marketing Mix – A set of marketing tools used by a company to sell its products and/or services to a target market.

Marketing Myopia – When a business is being shortsighted regarding the needs of its customers, only focusing on its products or short range goals and missing marketing opportunities.

Market Leader – A company or brand which has the highest sales of a particular product. A best-selling product.

Market Orientation – A business strategy whereby a company focuses on meeting the customers needs and wants regarding products and services.

Market Penetration Price – A low price at which a new product is offered when it first comes onto the market, in order to attract customers, after which the price is usually increased.

Market Research – The process of gathering and analyzing information about customers, competitors, etc., in order to make decisions and solve problems connected with selling products or services.

Market Sector – Competing businesses which produce or buy similar goods and/or services. The customers for which certain goods and services are marketed.

Market Test – The testing of a product or service in several areas of the country to see if customers will like it and want to buy it.

Market-To-Market – The process of valuing a security, share, etc., on a daily basis to assess its current price, rather than its acquisition price or book value.

Market Segment – A subgroup within a larger market in which people share certain characteristics and require similar products or services.

Market Segmentation – The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their purchasing behavior.

Mark-up – The amount a producer, retailer, etc., puts on the price of the goods or services they are selling in order to make a profit. To raise the price of an item which is for sale.

Marque – A brand name or model of a well-known manufactured product, especially an expensive car.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs – Developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. A theory describing five human motivational needs which must be met in a particular order. New found notes reflect the addition of three additional needs of humans.

Mass Market – Describes products or services which have mass appeal and are aimed at large numbers of people or a whole population.

Mass Marketing – Marketing a product or service to the general public through the mass media, i.e., TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.

Master Franchise – Allows companies or individuals the right to purchase a sub-franchise business which can be developed in a particular area or country.

Material Requirements Planning – MRP The use of computer software to plan and manage a production process, i.e. the amount of materials or parts required, calculation of workload, delivery schedules, etc.

Maternity Leave – The time a pregnant employee is entitled to take off from her job before and after the birth of her baby. Entitlement to Maternity Leave depends on how long the woman has been with her employer.

Maternity Pay – An employee benefit paid to pregnant women when they take time off from their job to have their baby. Entitlement to Maternity Pay depends on how long they have worked for their employer and varies from country to country.

Mates Rates – To sell a product or service to a friend or family member at a discounted or reduced rate on the normal price.

Matrix Management – a.k.a. Dotted Line Responsibility. A system of management in which people from different departments in an organization work together, so that each individual employee has two bosses, one functional and one operational. This is common in project management.

Maven – An expert, often self-proclaimed, in a particular field.

Maverick – An independent thinker who does not conform to accepted opinion on certain matters and takes a stand from other people.

Meltdown – A situation in which something, or someone, suddenly dramatically ceases to function properly.

Memo – Usually used for communication within an organisation. Memos can be formal letters or informal notes to colleagues.

Memorandum Of Incorporation – When a company is formed, a legal document which is drawn up that contains details such as the company’s name, type of company and its objectives, the number and value of shares, etc.

Memorandum Of Understanding – MOU. A, sometimes informal written agreement between two or more parties which establishes each party’s responsibilities and requirements.

Mentor – Someone who is experienced and gives guidance and support to a person less experienced to help them develop and grow and achieve their goals.

Menu Bar – On a computer screen, the strip at the top of each open window that contains pull down menus with functions, i.e. file, edit, etc.

Mercantile – Relating to trade or commerce.

Merchandising – The practice of promoting and selling goods. Commercial products which are associated with a film, pop group, TV show, celebrity, etc., such as toys, clothing, food products, household items, etc.

Merchant Bank – Known in the US as an Investment Bank. A financial institution which offers financial advice and services to large businesses and wealthy individuals.

Merger – The joining of two or more companies, organizations etc.

Meritocracy – In business, a system in which people advance because of their abilities rather than their connections or wealth, etc.

Mezzanine Finance – A high interest, usually unsecured, loan in which the lender often has the right to obtain shares in the business which has acquired the loan. Sometimes used in management buy-outs.

Microcap – In the US, small companies on the stock exchange that have shares which are very low in total value.

Microeconomics – A branch of economics which studies individual parts of the economy, such as households, industries and businesses, and how they make decisions about spending money, use of goods and services, etc.

Microsite – A small separate part of a larger website which is designed to be used for a particular purpose, e.g., advertising or selling. Often co-branded or ‘white label’, i.e., run by a larger website organization for a smaller website acting as an agent or affiliate.

Middle Management – In organizations and business, managers who are in charge of small departments and groups of people while reporting to upper management.

Midsession – On the stock exchange, the middle period of trading during the day, usually around noon..

Minimum Wage – The legal lowest wage an employee can be paid by an employer.

Mirror Site – On the Internet, an exact copy of a popular website. This is done so that some of the traffic can be diverted from the original website to the Mirror Site when the original site becomes very busy. Alternatively a copy website whose purpose is to attract and direct additional visitors towards the original site, regarded as unacceptable SEO (search engine optimization) or ‘cheating’ by most search engines.

Misery Index – Created by economist Arthur Okun, an economic indicator of a country which adds the inflation rate to the unemployment rate.

Mission Creep – Originally applied to military operations, a gradual expansion of a project that goes beyond original aims, so things turn out differently than planned, often resulting in undesirable consequences.

Mission Statement – A brief statement which sets out the activities and objectives of a company or organization.

Mitigate – To make something less severe or dangerous, e.g., using ‘Mitigating Circumstances’ as an excuse to try to make an offense seem less serious than it appears.

Mixed Economy – A country’s economic system which has both private and state owned enterprises in operation.

Modem – From MOdulate and DEModulate. An electronic device which is used to connect computer systems using a telephone line for transmitting data.

Moderator – An arbitrator or mediator. Someone who presides over a debate. On the Internet – a person who presides over a website forum to make sure that rules and guidelines are adhered to.

Mogul – a.k.a. tycoon. A very rich, powerful business person.

Monetary Base –  The total amount of a country’s currency which is in circulation, i.e., coins, notes, etc. – held by individuals and in bank deposits.

Money At Call – A loan or debt which must be paid upon demand.

Money Spinner – A product or project that generates a lot of earnings.

Monopoly – A situation in which one company or organization has complete control of all, or nearly all, of the market for a particular type of product or service.

Monopsony – Also known as Buyers Monopoly, a market in which there is only one customer for a product or service being sold by several sellers.

Moore’s Law – Founder of Intel Gordon Moore’s theory that the power of computing has the potential to double every two years (often quoted as every 18 months).

Moral Hazard – The situation in businesses and organizations when people are protected, e.g. by insurance cover, so they are more likely to take risks.

Mortgage – A loan acquired from a bank, building society, etc., with which to buy property or land, usually to be paid back with interest over a specified number of years at regular monthly intervals. To borrow money from a bank, etc., using your property as collateral, giving the lender the right to own your property if the loan is not repaid.

Mothball – In business, to stop using a piece of equipment or building, etc., for a period of time, but keep it in good condition for when work can resume.

Motherboard – Also known as the Logic Board. The main circuit board of a computer which has all the components to make everything in the computer work together, such as the monitor, keyboard, mouse, DVD drive, etc.

Motivational Research – A type of market research used to investigate the reasons why people buy specific products or brands.

Multilateral – Involving or agreed upon by three or more groups, nations, companies, etc.
Multinational Corporation – MNC. Also known as Transnational Corporation. A company which operates in several countries outside the country in which it is based.

Murphy’s Law – Humorous saying: Anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong.

Mutual Company – A type of organization, business, etc., which is owned by members and has no shareholders. The members usually have a share of the profits.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – MBTI. A psychometric questionnaire or personality test in which people answer questions about themselves, which helps them identify their strengths and personal preferences.

Mystery Shopper – A person hired by market research companies or manufacturers, etc., to visit or telephone shops or service providers anonymously in order to assess the quality of goods, helpfulness of staff, layout of premises, etc.


Narrow Money – a.k.a. M1. A country’s money supply which can be exchanged, i.e. coins, bank notes, bank checks, travelers checks, etc.

National Brand – A brand or product which is available nationwide rather than a local brand which is available in only one area of the country.

National Debt – The total amount of money owed by a nation’s government.

Negative Equity – A term commonly used in the property market during a recession when a property is worth less in value than the outstanding balance of the loan with which it was purchased. This usually only affects the borrower if they need to sell the property during this time.

Negative Growth – A term used to describe a recession. The opposite of economic growth.

Negative Inventory – A situation where a mistake in the ordering system or transactions of a business shows the stock to be less than zero. Sometimes this is done deliberately to reduce costs.

Negotiating Table – Describes formal discussions where agreements are trying to be reached.

Nepotism – In business, those in power showing favoritism towards friends and family, e.g., by giving them jobs because of their relationship rather than their abilities.

Nest Egg – A sum of money which someone has saved for the future.

Net Assets – The total assets of a company or individual minus all liabilities, i.e. debts.

Netbook – A very small portable computer usually connected to internet via cell phone systems.

Net-Centric – Activities, communities, services, information, etc., interconnected by the Internet.

Netiquette – A set of informal rules and regulations that govern Internet etiquette, i.e. the acceptable behavior of people on the World Wide Web.

Net Lending – The total amount of funds lent by a bank or building society over a certain period, minus any repayments made by borrowers.

Net Price – The price payable for goods or services after any deductions, discounts, etc., have been taken off.

Net Profit Margin – Usually expressed as a percentage, in business, the money earned after costs, expenses, taxes, etc., have been deducted.

Networker – A person who meets and builds relationships with other people in order to make business or social contacts.

Net Yield – The profit from an investment after taxes, costs and all other expenses have been deducted.

Newbie – A newcomer or novice at something, especially on the Internet.

New Issue – On the Stock Market, a share or bond which is offered to the public for the first time.

Next-Generation – Term used to describe a product or technology which has been improved or upgraded so that the newest version is much more advanced than previous versions.

Niche Market – A specialized market in which a specific product is sold to a particular type or group of customers. A product or service for which there is sometimes little demand and often little or no competition.

NIH SyndromeNot Invented Here. A term used for companies who reject ideas or products which are not theirs because they originated from outside the company.

Nikkei Index – A share price index for the 225 stocks traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan.

No-Load Fund – A fund which does not impose a sales or commission fee on the investor for the buying and selling of stocks and shares.

Nominal Damages – A very small sum of money awarded by a court to the plaintiff when no real damage or harm was caused by the defendant, who has to pay the damages, usually $1 or £2.

Non-Callable – a.k.a. Bulletbond. A bond or stock which cannot be redeemed by the issuer before a particular date or until maturity.

Non-Disclosure – A signed formal agreement in which one party agrees to keep certain information secret. Often used in business when products or projects are being developed.

Non-Executive – In business, a member of a board of directors or a consultant who is not an employee of a company but who gives independent advice.

Non-Executive Director – a.k.a. Outside Director. A person who is an independent member of a company’s board of directors, i.e. they are not an employee of the company and are therefore not responsible for the day to day operations of the company but monitor the activities of the full time executives.

Nonfeasance – Failure to perform a duty or carry out an act when under legal obligation.

Non-Recourse Debt – A type of loan or debt in which the borrower is not personally liable to the lender. If the borrower fails to make repayments the lender can only take back what was bought with the loan and none of the borrowers other assets.

Non-Tariff Barrier – NTB. A type of non-tax trade restriction on imported goods which is used to make it difficult for certain goods to be taken into a country.

Nosedive – A sudden drop or plunge in prices, values, etc.

Notary – A person, usually a solicitor, officially authorised to witness signatures and certify legal documents.

Not Enough Bandwidth – Term which is used when there are not enough people and/or enough time to get a job done.

Notice Of Deficiency – An official document sent to a taxpayer which shows that they owe more tax than has been declared on their tax form.

Notice Period – The period of time during which an employee must work between resigning from and leaving their place of work.

No-Win No-Fee – Conditional Fee Agreement. An agreement with your solicitor in which you don’t have to pay their fee if your court case is not successful.

Number Cruncher – An accountant or person who’s job is working with numbers, and who is able to do large calculations. A computer which can perform complex calculations in a short time.

Numbered Account – a.k.a. Swiss Bank Account. An account, offered by certain banks, which can only be identified by a number, so the account holder is known only to a restricted number of the bank’s employees.


Obsolescence – The state of becoming obsolete or out of date. Old-fashioned.

Occupational Hazard – Aspects of a job which can be dangerous or pose a high risk of injury.

Occupational Psychology – a.k.a. Organizational Psychology. The study of peoples behaviour at work, covering personal relations, mental health, employee selection and training, safety, etc.

Off-Balance Sheet – OBS. Refers to items such as assets or a debts which are not recorded on a company’s balance sheet.

Offer By Prospectus – A description of a company, i.e. financial structure, prospects, aims, etc., used when new shares are offered to the public, or when the company is for sale.

Offer Document – A document which a prospective buyer of a company sends to the company’s shareholders giving details of the offer in the hope of persuading them to sell their shares.

Official Strike – A work stoppage by employees that has the backing and approval of a union.

Offline – Refers to a computer which is not connected to the Internet.

Off-Market – Refers to the buying and selling of shares outside the Stock Market.

Off-Peak – A time period when a service, e.g. phone network, travel, electricity, gas, etc., is being used less frequently by consumers, therefore prices and rates are cheaper at this time.

Offshore – Refers to accounts, investments, banks, etc., which are in countries where there are lower taxes and/or little government control.

Off-The-Books – A payment which is not officially recorded, usually to avoid tax.

Off-The-Rack – Describes merchandise, usually clothing, which is made in standard designs and sizes, rather than made-to-measure, and is available in stock at retail outlets.

Oligarchy – A small, elite group of usually wealthy people or families who control a government or organization, and who are unwilling to share their power.

Oligopoly – A market in which a small number of companies control the supply of certain goods and services.

Ombudsman – A government official who investigates complaints from the general public about companies, government officials, the media, etc.

One-Stop – Describes a retail establishment which provides an extensive range of goods and services, so the customer can purchase everything they need without having to go elsewhere.

Online – Refers to a service or product which is available to use or buy on the Internet. A computer which is connected to the Internet. –

Onshore Accounts – Bank accounts or investments held in countries which have normal rates of tax and strict government control.

Open Account – An arrangement between a vendor and buyer in which the vendor allows the buyer to pay at a later date for goods received.

Open-Book Management – A management technique in a company whereby all the employees are involved in the running of the company by training them in, and giving them access to, financial and operational details.

Open Border – A border which allows the flow of unrestricted goods and people between countries.

Open Communication – In business, a situation in which employees have full information about the organization, and are encouraged to exchange ideas and objectives with management.

Open-Ended Investment Companies – OEIC. Limited investment companies which manage mutual investment funds. An OEIC can issue more shares if there is a demand from investors. The fund reduces if investors sell their shares back to the company.

Open Market – A market which operates without restrictions, in which anyone can buy and sell.

Open Offer -a.k.a. Entitlement Issue. An offer to existing share holders of a company, which entitles them to purchase new shares at a fixed price, usually lower than the current market price, in order to raise money for the company.
Open Shop – A business or factory which does not require employees to be members of a trade union.

Open Source – Describes computer software for which the original source code is freely accessible to everyone, so that anyone can modify or copy the program without paying a fee.

Operating Income – The gross earnings of a company minus operating costs, excluding taxes and interest.

Operating Lease – An arrangement in which a business leases equipment, cars, buildings, etc., for a period of time which is less than the expected useful life of the asset.

Operation Process Chart – Used in manufacturing, a chart which shows each stage of a production process, including when materials are needed, how much time is to be allocated for each job, how many people are required to carry out the work, etc.

Opinion Leader – A high-profile, influential public figure, such as a celebrity or business person, whose opinions and tastes are respected and/or copied by the general public.

Opportunism – The practice of exploiting and taking advantage of opportunities which present themselves, with no regard for other people or eventual consequences.

Opportunity Cost – Term which refers to the value or benefit of something which will be lost in order to achieve or pursue something else.

Optimize – To get the most out of something. To use something in the best possible way.

Ordinary Capital – The amount of capital invested in a company by shareholders.

Ordinary Creditor – A creditor who has no priority or security if a company which owes them money goes bankrupt. Therefore, they will be paid only after other creditors have been paid.

Ordinary Interest – Interest paid which is calculated based on a 360 day year, or 12 months of 30 days.

Ordinary Resolution – A resolution accepted and passed by a company’s shareholders by a simple majority, i.e., more than 50%, at a shareholders meeting or by a signed postal resolution which has been sent to the shareholders.

Ordinary Share a.k.a. Common Stock. A share in a company which entitles the owner to a share in the company’s profits, and the right to vote at shareholders meetings.

Organic Growth – Describes when a company develops and expands by increasing output and/or sales through its own activities, rather than by a merger or acquisitions, i.e. buying other companies.

Organization Chart – A diagram which shows the structure of a business or organization, showing connections between departments, jobs, etc.

Organized Labor – Employees who are members of a Trade Union.

Orphaned Technology – A term which refers to computer products, programs, etc., which have been abandoned or not marketed by their developers.

Orphan Product – In medicine, a test, device, drug, etc., which may be useful for certain rare diseases or disorders but is not financially viable, so is therefore not developed for commercial use.

Outbid – To offer more money than a rival for something, especially at an auction.

Outbound Telemarketing – When a company calls prospective customers on the phone in order to sell them goods or services, compared to Inbound Telemarketing where the customer calls a company for assistance or to purchase goods.

Outdoor Advertising – Also known as Out-Of-Home Advertising. Advertising which consumers can see while they are outside, e.g. billboards, newsstands, skywriting, advertising blimps, etc.

Outlay – The total amount of money which has to be spent to acquire an asset or start a project, including costs, taxes, delivery charges, etc.

Outplacement – A service provided by a former employer which helps a terminated employee find a new job.

Outside Shareholder – A shareholder who doesn’t own more than 50% of a company’s shares.

Outsourcing – An arrangement in which a company produces goods or provides services for another company, usually in the same country.

Outstanding Shares – a.k.a. Outstanding Stock. A company’s ordinary shares which have been issued and are owned by investors.

Outward Investment – Investments which are made abroad.

Overage – A company’s surplus, such as money or goods, which is available but exceeds the amount needed or required.

Over-allotment – On the Stock Market, the offering for sale of more shares, etc., than are actually available, in the anticipation that some orders will be canceled.

Overbought – On the Stock Market. a situation in which there has been too much buying of shares, etc., which has therefore caused prices to rise too high.

Overcapitalized – Refers to a business which has been provided with more money than it needs. To overestimate the capital value of a business.

Overdraft – Refers to the amount of money that is owed to a bank because withdrawals from an account exceed deposits. An arrangement in which a bank extends credit to a customer, usually up to a maximum amount.

Overhead –  In business, regular costs which are incurred, such as wages, rent, insurance, utilities, etc.

Overmanned – A situation in which there are more workers than are needed for a job.

Overproduction – To produce more goods than are needed or wanted, an excess of supply over demand.

Overriding Commission – A commission paid to an agency office manager based on business created by agents who work at that office.

Overtime – Time worked in addition to normal working hours. The pay received, usually charged at a higher rate, for working outside regular working hours.

Over-trading – A situation which occurs when a company expands its business too quickly and does not have enough capital to pay expenses, such as debts, wages, etc., which often results in liquidation.

Owner-Operator – A self-employed commercial truck or lorry driver who uses their own vehicle to run a business.


Paid-Up Capital – The total amount of money which has actually been paid in full by shareholders for their shares.

Paid-Up Policy – An insurance policy on which no more premiums are required, and the policy is considered paid in full and still remains in force.

Paid-Up Share – A share for which the shareholder has paid the full amount, as stated in the contract.

Package Deal – A set of several products which are offered for sale and must be bought in a combined package.

Packaging – Materials used to wrap a product. The way in which something, such as a product, person, proposal, etc., is presented, usually to the public.

Page Break – On a computer screen, a mark which indicates where a new page will be printed in a document.

Page Traffic – In computing, the number of times a web page has been visited.

Palm Top – A small computer which fits into the palm of the hand.

Pan-European – Relating to all, or most of, the countries in Europe.

Paper Loss – In business, a loss which has occurred and appears in a company’s accounts, but has not yet been realized until a transaction has been made, e.g. the sale of an asset which has lost value.

Paper Profit – A profit which has been made but has not yet been realized until a share, etc., has been sold.

Paper-Pusher – An office worker who has a boring job dealing with paperwork all day.

Paradigm Shift – Term first used by Thomas Kuhn in 1962 to describe when an important or significant change occurs in the perception of things. A sudden change in point of view.

Paralegal – A legal assistant who is not a qualified lawyer, but who is trained to work in or with the law.

Parallel Market – A country’s separate market which deals in goods and currencies outside the country’s normal official government controls.

Parent Company – A company or organization which owns more than 50% of the voting shares in another company, therefore the Parent Company controls management and operations in the other (subsidiary) company.

Pareto Principle – Also known as the 80-20 Rule, e.g. 20% of employees perform 80% of the work. 80% of the consequences result from 20% of the causes.

Parkinson’s Law – A humorous observation by Cyril Parkinson (British historian 1909-1993): ‘Work will expand so as to fill the time available for its completion’.

Participating Performance Share – A type of share/stock which gives a company’s shareholder the right to receive dividends and also extra payments relating to the company’s profits.

Partnership – A business which is owned by two or more people, all sharing the profits and responsibility for managing the business.

Part-Time Worker – Someone who works less hours than a full time employee on a permanent basis for a company, usually for a set number of hours a week.

Pascal – A computer language which is used to write programs, also used in teaching programming.

Passing Trade – Describes customers who go into a shop, public house, etc., because they notice it as they are passing by.

Patent – An official document which grants an inventor or manufacturer sole rights to an invention or product.

Patent Pending – A phrase sometimes printed on goods to show that a patent has been applied for but not yet granted.

Paternity Leave – The right of employees, male or female, to take time off from their job following the birth of their partner’s baby. Entitlement to Paternity Leave depends on how long they have been with their employer.

Paternity Pay – An employee benefit paid to partners of pregnant women so they can take time off from their job after the birth of the baby to give support to the mother. Entitlement to Paternity Pay depends on how long the partner has been with their employer.

Patron – A person who purchases goods or services, often on a regular basis, from a shop or company. A benefactor or sponsor who supports and/or gives money to an individual or an organization, such as a charity.

Pawnbroker – A money lender who lends cash at a high rate of interest in exchange for the borrowers personal possessions, such as jewelery, as security, which is returned when the loan is fully paid. If the loan is not repaid the Pawnbroker sells the item.

Payable To Bearer – A check, security, etc., which can be exchanged for money by the person in possession.

Pay-As-You-Go – Refers to a method of paying for a service as you use it, such as mobile phone credit. Also can be used to pay debts as they are incurred.

Paying Agent – An agent, usually a bank, that makes dividend payments to shareholders on behalf of the issuing company.

Payment By Results – A system of paying employees according to the amount of work they do. Therefore, the bigger the volume of work output, the bigger the salary.

Payout Ratio – Also known as Dividend Payout Ratio. The percentage of a company’s net earnings paid to shareholders in dividends.

PDA – Personal Digital Assistant. A small hand-held electronic device that is used for storing information and can serve as a telephone, diary, alarm clock, fax, etc.

Pecking Order – Slang term. The hierarchy in businesses, organizations, etc, i.e., the order of people at different ranks.

Pecuniary – Relating to, or involving money.

Peer Group – A social group of equals, i.e., in age, social class, education, etc. A group of products or businesses which are similar.

Peer-To-Peer – P2P. Computer systems which act as servers and are connected to each other via the Internet, allowing people to share share files, so there is no need for a central computer.

Pen Portrait – A description of a person, a ‘character sketch in words’, now commonly a person-profile used for audience targeting purposes (marketing, recruitment, etc), although the expression dates back to the 1800s, originally referring to a description of a person, so as to produce a picture in the mind. ‘Pen Picture’ was an early alternative term.

Penalty Clause – A clause in a contract which states that a specified sum of money must be paid by the party who breaks the contract.

Penetration Pricing – The practice of charging a low price for a new product for a short period of time in order to establish a market share and attract customers.

Penny Stock – Describes shares which have a very low value and therefore appeal to speculators. Usually traded via pink sheets or “penny stock exchanges” and OTC (Over-The-Counter) exchanges.

Pencil-Pusher – An employee with a boring job whose work consists of dealing with unimportant documents, paperwork, etc.

Pension – A private or government fund from which regular payments are made to a person who has retired from work, or who is considered too ill to carry on working.

Pension Fund – A fund set up to collect money on a regular basis from employers and employees, which pays the employees pension when they retire from work.

Per Capita – For each person in the population.

Per Diem – Latin for ‘Per Day’. Often refers to money paid to employees for daily expenses or reimbursements.

Perfect Competition – Describes a market in which no one can influence prices because there is enough information about a product to prevent control by an individual or a single organization.

Performance-Related Pay – A scheme set up in the workplace in which the employees get paid according to how well they perform in their job.

Perishables – Describes food, such as fruit, meat, fish, dairy products, etc., which will decay or spoil rapidly.

Perma-temp – A person who works for an organization on a long-term contractual basis, but who is not a permanent employee.

Permission Marketing – A term used for the advertising of products or services on the Internet, for which the marketing company obtain the consent of prospective customers to send them information about certain products or services. Seth Godin is considered the originator of the term.

Personal Action – A type of court case in which an individual claims damages for personal injury, damage to his property, etc.

Personal Assistant – PA. A person who works for one person, often an executive, in an organization, performing secretarial and administrative duties.

Personal Day – When an employee is permitted to have time off work to deal with personal matters.

Personal Development – a.k.a.  Self-Development. Acquiring abilities, skills, knowledge, etc., in order to enhance one’s performance and self-perception.

Personal Exemption – The amount of income an individual can earn in a year before paying tax.

Personal Information Manager – PIM. Computer software which handles personal information, such as names, addresses, memos, lists, e-mails, etc.

Personal Liability – An individual’s legal responsibility in the event of injury to someone, damage to property and/or the debts of their own company.

Personnel – The people who work for a business or organization. An administrative department in an organization which deals with employees and often liaises between departments.

Performance (Project/Program) Evaluation on Review Technique – PERT. A management scheduling tool which charts the tasks involved in a project, showing the sequence of the work, the time needed for each task, etc.

PEST Analysis – Political Economical Social and Technological Analysis. A business tool which is used in strategic planning and helps to understand the environmental influences on a business or organizational.

Peter Principle – Formulated by Canadian author Laurence J Peter (1919-1990): ‘In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence’. The theory that employees rise in rank in an organization until they are finally promoted to a level, and remain there, at which they do not have the ability to do their job.

Petrodollar – Term coined by professor of economics Ibrahim Oweiss in the 1970s which describes the large amounts of money earned by oil production in OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries.

Petty Cash – A small amount of cash kept by a business to pay for small purchases.

Pharmaceutical – Relating to or engaged in the process of making and selling medicinal drugs.

Philology – The branch of knowledge which deals with the study of the history of language and literature. Historical linguistics.

Phishing – A type of fraud carried out on the internet by sending people legitimate-looking e-mails asking for their personal information, such as bank account details, passwords, etc., and using them to steal their money.

Physical Capital – Refers to a company’s assets which are used in a production process, such as machinery, buildings, materials, etc.

Picket – A person, or persons, posted at the entrance of a place of work which is affected by a strike, in order to stop people entering the premises.

Pictogram – a.k.a. Pictograph. A graphic symbol or diagram which represents a concept, an amount, an activity, etc., in pictures.

Piece Rate – A payment system in which employees are paid a fixed rate for each item they produce.

Piecework – Work in which payment is based on the amount of work done regardless of the time it takes to do it.

Pie Chart – A chart or graph which is circular in shape and divided into triangular sections (like slices of a pie), the sizes of which are relative to the quantities represented.

Piggyback – A system which rides on the back of an existing system, e.g. a loan or mortgage or an advertising campaign.

PIN – Personal Identification Number. A number given by a bank to a customer so the customer can access their bank account using an ATM (cash machine), or use their credit/debit card in retail outlets.

PingPacket INternet Groper. An Internet program which is used to check if another computer on a network is working. To contact someone on a computer.

Pink Collar – Describes jobs which were once traditionally done by women, such as nursing, secretarial, teaching, etc.

Pink Sheets – Formally known as Pink Quote.A system displaying over-the-counter shares, which is published every day. Most companies listed on the Pink Sheets are very small and do not meet the minimum requirements for trading on the Stock Exchange.

Pink Slip – In the US, an official notice of job termination given to an employee.

Piracy – The unauthorized copying of CDs, DVDs, computer programs, etc., in order to sell them or give them away.

Pixel – Short for Picture Element. The smallest element of an image displayed on a computer screen. The quality of the image depends on the number of pixels per square inch, i.e. the more pixels the higher the resolution.

Plaintiff – A person who brings a lawsuit against someone else in a court of law.

Planned Economy – A country’s economic system controlled by the government, which makes all the decisions about production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

PLC – Public Limited Company. In the UK, a company with limited liability, whose shares can be purchased by the public.

Plenary – Describes a meeting which should be attended by everyone who is qualified to attend, e.g., company directors, officials, etc. A diplomat who has full and complete power.

Plimsoll – Named after merchant Samuel Plimsoll. International Load line or Waterline on the hull of every cargo ship, which indicates the maximum depth to which a ship can be safely loaded with cargo.

Plutocracy – A government which is controlled by wealthy people.

PMI – Purchasing Managers Index. Published every month, an economic measure relating to manufacturing. A PMI over 50 indicates industry is expanding.

Poisoned Chalice – A job or situation which seems good at first but soon becomes unpleasant or harmful.

Poison Pill – A business strategy used by a company to avoid being taken over by another company, e.g., the selling of assets, shares, etc., to make the company look less attractive to the potential buyer.

Political Correctness – PC. The practice of not using words, expressions, actions, etc., which could cause offense to minority groups. PC could also stand for Political Correctness – People who insist on political correctness from everyone at all times, even in their private lives.

Ponzi Scheme – Named after Charles Ponzi, a fraudulent investment scheme, similar to a Pyramid Scheme, in which people are offered high returns, while their money is used to pay earlier investors, so that later investors often end up with little or no return because new investors can’t be found.

Pop-Under – On a computer, an advertisement, etc., which comes up on the screen behind the web page which is being viewed, and does not appear until the page is closed.

Pop-Up – On a computer screen, a small window containing an advertisement, etc., which appears on a page on top of the content which is being viewed.

Pork Barrel – A US political term for when government funds are used for projects which benefit certain local groups or constituents, and show their political representative in a good light.

Portal – On the Internet, a website, usually a search engine, which is the point of entry to other websites, and offers services such as e-mail, news, shopping, etc.

Porter’s Generic Marketing Strategies – Named after economist Michael Porter. Describes strategies used by companies to achieve a strong  advantage against competitors.

Portfolio – A collection of investments, such as shares, bonds, etc., which are owned by an individual or organization.

Portfolio Career – Concept attributed to guru Charles Handy in the 1990s. A career in which a person pursues several jobs at the same time, rather than working full-time for one particular company.

Port Of Entry – A place in a country where people and/or goods can officially leave or enter.

Positioning – Term used to describe the way a company, product, service, etc., is marketed in order to make it stand out from the competition by choosing a niche according to brand, price, packaging, etc.

Positive Sum Game – A win-win situation in which both sides involved in a business transaction, etc., can profit.

Post-Date – To insert a future date on a check or document at the time of writing, so it becomes effective at that later date.

Post-Fordism – Also called Flexible Modernity. An industrial production system which has changed from mass production in large factories, such as Ford Motors, and moved towards smaller flexible, more specialized manufacturing systems.

Power Brand – A brand of goods, etc., which is well known and has a large share of the consumer market for a long period of time.

Power Lunch – A business meeting held over lunch in which important decisions may be made, or high level discussions carried out.

Power Nap – A short nap. usually lasting about 20 minutes, taken during the day, that refreshes a person so they can carry on working.

Prairie Dogging – This occurs when someone who works in an open office, which is divided into cubicles, drops something or shouts and everyone else pops their heads above the dividing walls to see what is happening.

Precedent – A past act or decision which is used as an example to decide the outcome of similar subsequent acts.

Predatory Lending – The often illegal practice of lending money to people who the lender knows are unable to pay back the loan, such as low-income house-owners, who subsequently may lose their homes which they have used as security against the loan.

Predatory Pricing – Also known as Destroyer Pricing. A situation where a company charges very low prices for goods or services in order to put its competitors out of business, after which prices will be raised.

Preference Share – a.k.a. Preferred Stock. A type of share which pays the owner a fixed dividend before other share owners are paid their dividends. Preference Shareholders do not usually have the right to vote at shareholders meetings.

Preferential Creditor – A creditor who has the right to receive payment of debts, before other creditors, from a bankrupt company.
Pre-Market – On the Stock Market, trading which takes place between members before the official opening time.
Premium Income – The revenue received by an insurance company from its customers.

Press Agent – A person employed to arrange publicity for an individual or organization, i.e. in newspapers, on television, etc.

Press Conference –  A meeting held by a business, organization, individual, etc., to which journalists are invited to hear a public announcement, and usually to ask questions.

Pressure Group – An organized group of people, or lobbyists, who campaign to influence businesses, governments, etc., to change their policies, e.g. regarding the environment, or to change laws.

Price – The amount of money required to purchase something or to bribe someone. The amount agreed upon between the buyer and seller in a commercial transaction.

Price Control – Maximum and minimum price limitations, often during periods of inflation, which a government puts on essential goods and/or services.

Price Discrimination – The practice of a provider to charge different prices for the same product to different customers.

Price Fixing – The, often illegal, practice of prices being fixed, by agreement, by competing companies who provide the same goods or services as each other.

Price Mechanism – Describes the way prices for goods and services are influenced by the changes in supply and demand. Shortages cause a rise in prices, surpluses cause a fall in prices.

Price Support – A system in which a minimum price is set by a government, and sometimes subsidized, for a product or commodity.

Price Taker – A company or individual whose selling or buying of goods and services has little or no influence over prices.

Pricing – To evaluate the price of a product by taking into account the cost of production, the price of similar competing products, market situation, etc.

Primary Data – Data which is collected by a company, business, etc., itself for its own use, using questionnaires, case studies, interviews, etc., rather than using other sources to collect the data.

Primary Demand – Consumers demand for a generic product rather than a particular brand.

Primary Market – On the Stock Exchange, when shares, securities, etc., are issued for the first time.

Primary Research – a.k.a. Field Research. The collection of new or primary data through questionnaires, telephone interviews, etc., for a specific purpose.

Prime Rate – The posted “base” or “best” interest rate used for lending purposes. This is the rate that the highest quality organizations and individuals get their loans priced.

Prime Cost – In manufacturing, etc., the cost of direct materials and labor required to make a product.

Private Brand – Also called House Brand. A product which is owned by a retailer, and therefore has its own brand label on it, rather than the manufacturer or producer.

Private Company – a.k.a. A Private Corporation. A company whose shares are not offered to the general public on the open market.

Private Equity – Describes companies shares which are not available for investors to buy and sell on the Stock Market, because the company is unlisted.

Private Sector – The part of a country’s economy which is owned and run for profit by private businesses rather than being government controlled.

Privatize –  To change or sell a government controlled business or industry to privately owned companies.

Privity – A legal relationship between two parties in a contract.

PRO – Public Relations Officer. Also known as a Chief Communications Officer. A person whose job is to promote and establish a good relationship between their client – an organization or an individual – and the public.

Probation – A trial period during which an individual’s suitability for a job or membership to a club, etc., is tested.

Pro Bono – Short for Pro Bono Publico (Latin for ‘The Public Good’). Work carried out in the public interest for no fee or compensation, e.g. by a lawyer.

Product – The result of a manufacturing or natural process (such as food) which is offered for sale to the general public, usually by a retailer.

Product Evangelist – A person who is committed to a promoting a product through demonstrations, talks, blogging, etc.

Productivity – The rate at which goods are produced based on how long it takes, how many workers are required, how much capital and equipment is needed, etc.

Product Liability – Area of the law in which a manufacturer or retailer is legally responsible for any damage or injury caused by a defective product.

Product Life Cycle – The normal stages that a product passes through from development to decline until it becomes obsolete, usually because it has saturated the market because everyone who wants it has purchased it.

Product Placement – Also called Embedded Marketing. A type of advertising where a company pays a fee to have one or more of its products used as props in a film or television show.

Product Portfolio – A variety of products which are manufactured or distributed by a company or organization.

Professional Liability – The legal liability of a professional, such as a doctor, accountant, lawyer, etc., who causes loss, harm or injury to their clients while performing their professional duties.

Profiteer – An organization or individual who makes excessive profits by charging very high prices for goods which are in short supply

Profit Sharing – An incentive scheme in which a business shares some of its profit , usually in cash or shares, with its employees.

Profit Squeeze – A situation in which a company or business makes less profit over a period of time because of rising costs and/or falling prices.

Program Trading – On the Stock Market, the buying and selling of large amounts of shares by computer, the program of which is triggered when trading reaches a certain level of volume.

Prohibitive – Preventing or discouraging, e.g. people are discouraged from buying a product because the price is prohibitive, i.e. too high.

Project Management – The process of managing and planning a successful project from start to finish, which includes controlling, organizing, managing resources, etc.

PROM – Programmable Read Only Memory. In a computer, a permanent memory chip which can only be recorded on once, by the computer user, not the manufacturer, after which the data is stored and cannot be changed.

Promo – A promotional broadcast on television, radio, etc., advertising a product, TV show, film, etc.

Promotion – The use of marketing and/or advertising to bring attention to a product, brand, service, company, etc., usually in order to increase sales. The raising of an employee to a higher rank in an organization.

Prompt Note – A document sent to someone to remind them when a payment is due on a purchase.

Proof Copy – The printed pages of a book, magazine, etc., which is read and corrected (e.g. spelling mistakes) by a Proof Reader before the final printing of all the copies.

Proprietary Trading – The buying and selling of shares, bonds, etc., by a securities firm with its own money for its own profit, rather than for its customers.

Pro Rata – In proportion to. Refers to the division of costs, profits, income, etc., depending on the size of each persons share in the whole amount.

Prosecute – To bring a criminal charge against someone in a court of law.

Prospectus – A document published by a company which is offering its shares for sale, disclosing information such as the company’s activities, objectives, finances, etc. A book published by a university or school containing information about courses, etc.

Prosumer – Profession/Producer Consumer. A consumer who uses higher grade products or services – usually technical equipment in nature. Examples are common in cameras, audio equipment, and some computer systems.

Protectionism – The policy of a country protecting its own industries against foreign competition by imposing taxes, etc., on imported goods.

Pro Tem – Temporarily. For the time being.

Protocol – In computing, a set of rules which determine the way data is transmitted between computers. The code of conduct in an organization, etc.

Prototype – An original design or working model of something, often used in demonstrations.

Provident Fund – A form of retirement savings. An employer and employee pay regular, usually equal, amounts into an investment fund, which is then paid to the employee upon retirement, often in a lump sum.

Proviso – A clause in a contract which makes a condition or stipulation.

Proxy – A person who has been given the authority to act for another person, e.g., a proxy can vote on behalf of a shareholder.

Psychographics – Used in marketing, the analysis of peoples characters, lifestyles, attitudes, purchasing habits, etc.

Psychographic Segmentation – The process of identifying and dividing consumers into groups according to their interests, attitudes, social class, values, personality, etc.

Psychometric Test – A test which measures a person’s personality, mental ability, knowledge, etc., often used to ascertain whether a potential employee is suitable for a job.

Public Company – A company whose shares are traded on the Stock Market.

Public Debt – a.k.a. National Debt. The total amount of money owed by a country’s national and local governments.

Public Domain – Something that is not protected by copyright and is openly available for anyone to use, look at, etc.

Public Employee – A person employed by the government.

Public Enterprise – A business or economic activity owned and controlled by the government.

Public Issue – When a company offers shares for sale to the public for the first time.

Publicist – A publicity or press agent who publicizes organizations, people, authors, etc.

Public Liability – When the owner of a business, etc., is responsible for any injury or harm inflicted on a member of the public because of negligence or unsafe products, etc., against which an insurance policy can be obtained by the business.

Public Relations – PR. The promotion of an organization or person with the aim of creating a favorable relationship with the public.

Public Works – Buildings and structures constructed by the government for public use, such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, etc.

Puff – In advertising, to exaggerate the qualities of a product, etc., without actually breaking the law.

Pull Strategy – Used in marketing to create a demand for a product by means of advertising and promoting to the end consumer, rather than through the marketing channel. To ‘pull’ the product through from distributor to final consumer.

Punitive – Inflicting or concerned with punishment, i.e. punitive taxes, punitive justice.

Punitive Damages – Damages awarded, over and above general damages, by a court of law against a defendant who has committed a malicious act which has resulted in injury to a person or damage to property, in order to deter the defendant from committing similar acts in future.

Purchase Ledger – A record of a company’s accounts which shows amounts owed to suppliers for items purchased on credit.

Purchasing Officer – A company employee who is responsible for the purchasing of equipment, materials and services from suppliers and contractors.

Pure Play – Term that relates to a company which deals in one specific line of business, rather than a range of products, services, etc.

Purveyor – A company or person who supplies provisions, especially food.

Push System – In production, a system in which the demand for goods is predicted by the company, so more goods are made to keep up with pre-set levels rather than customer demand.

Put Option – An option in a contract giving the holder the right to sell shares, materials, etc., at a specified price at, or up to, a fixed date.

Pyramid Selling – A system in which people buy the rights (often a franchise) to sell a company’s products to other distributors who have been recruited, who then sell the products on to other recruits. This type of selling often ends up with no final buyer for the products. The few people at the top of the pyramid commonly make a lot more money than the many people at the bottom.

Pyramid Scheme – Illegal in several countries, a scheme in which people are paid for recruiting others who pay a fee, part of which goes to the person who recruited them as a commission. In order to get their payment the recruits then have to find new recruits to pay a fee. This goes on until there is no one left to recruit and the people who come into the scheme last end up losing their money. The difference between Pyramid Selling and a Pyramid Scheme is that is that the latter has no product. (See Ponzi Scheme)


Qualified Opinion – A statement written by an independent auditor which accompanies a business’s financial statements, saying that the audit has been limited, e.g., because the auditor may not have been able to collect all the information required to carry out a full audit.

Qualifying Period – The length of time an employee must serve in a job before being entitled to various benefits, or being able to make a claim against unfair dismissal.

Quality – An attribute or level of excellence. The standard of a product, service, etc., as measured against similar products, services, etc. A distinctive characteristic or attribute possessed by someone or something.

Quality Assurance – QA. A system in which the delivery of a service or the quality of a product is maintained to a high standard, especially by means of attention to every stage of the process.

Qualitative – Associated with a thing’s quality which cannot be measured, such as feel, image, taste, etc. Describes peoples qualities which cannot be measured, such as knowledge, behavior, attitude, etc.

Quality Circle – Originating in Japan, a group of workers in a company who meet regularly to discuss ways in which to improve working conditions for employees and productivity for the company.

Quantitative – Related to or measured in numbers. Comparison based on quantity rather than quality.

Questionnaire – A form containing a list of research or survey questions for people to answer, so that information can be gathered for analysis

Quorum – The minimum number of people who must attend a meeting in order for valid business to be conducted.

Quota – An official allocation of something, or a limited amount of people allowed. A fixed amount of something, e.g. sales, which must be reached.

Quoted Company – A company whose shares are listed on the Stock Exchange.