The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
David L. Scott
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Buy *The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms* by David L. Scott online

The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
David L. Scott
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
608 pages
March 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Okay, I know some business words. Words like “interrogatory” (questions to a witness in pre-trial) and “disclaimer” – words that have a Latin base, words that are in standard parlance in business and other contexts. But – dirty float, dirty stock, dirty price? Who knew that business could get dirty? Some of these are terms that you might not think you need to know, perhaps, but there are plenty of words and phrases among the 6,000 or so in this collection that none of us should live without. Especially in these difficult times.

Just compensation. It’s not just compensation, it’s just. Fair, equitable. “For example, government is expected to pay full value for property that is taken for a public purpose.”

Medigap insurance. Remember those gaps in Medicare? Think they will go away any time soon? If you’re nearing 65, make yourself fully aware of Medigap coverage.

Recession – “an extended decline in general business activity.” As distinct from stagflation, “characterized by slow growth, rapidly rising consumer prices, and relatively high unemployment.” As different from depression, “a sharp and extended period of declining economic activity, generally characterized by high levels of unemployment and relatively stable or declining price levels.” Your pick as to which we’re in at any given time. My vote is for a combination of stag-nation and re-pression to describe the current situation.

If you are delinquent in your payments on debts, your wages could be garnished. If you are delinquent in your payments to the government you could find yourself facing a lien against your assets. But if the government is delinquent in paying you a tax refund, you have no right to garnish or impose a lien on its considerable assets.

If you decide to protest the lateness of your tax refund, be prepared to put in some serious dwell time (time spent waiting, like goods in a boxcar at a railroad siding or humans in a line at the tax office). Remember that if you face an audit by the IRS, you will need total documentation of every transaction made during the year (it might help if you can establish an audit trail), but if you fail to get your tax refund, you will not be furnished with any documentation. Not even an explanation. Your failure to pay is serious and punishable; the tax people probably consider their withholding of your money to be de minimus (more Latin) – “of trifling importance.”

Don’t get excited when you read about hot money or a horizontal merger; the first is described as “funds that are controlled by investors who seek high short-term yields when the funds are likely to be reinvested somewhere else at any time.” Boring! The second is merely business-ese for a joining of firms with similar products or services. In business terms, stripping is about coupons, and testate is about who writes a will.

This is a serious book, not to be taken as de minimus. It will be of use to those who intend to do business and those who practice it, at a highly professional level. The language of profit and loss, stocks and sales and real estate and penalties and interest, the book includes interesting case studies to bolster the definitions, such as the history of payola or the ins and outs of intangibles. The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms would be great for starting up a business, or covering your assets when shutting one down.

Even if you do not need all the technical knowledge arrayed in this tome, you could buy a copy and lay it casually on your desk to impress your customers.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Barbara Bamberger Scott, 2010

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