Here’s one that’s quick and easy.

I’ve heard the term end result a good bit during my years in the marketing industry. And I bet you have too, no matter where you work. It’s an expression that has made its way into business parlance, and from there into everyday English. No one seems to talk about a result anymore; it’s always an end result.

Now, I suspect the phrase was originally coined with good reason: to differentiate a final outcome from preliminary results. Perhaps the term still is quite useful in some industries — say, health care, where such a distinction can be critical.

But when I see it used in the business world, 99 percent of the time, no such nuance is at work. (I’d stake my salary on that percentage.) Instead, it’s just a redundant phrase — a tautology, if you’re into fancier Greek-type words.

So what’s the allure? Why waste your breath on the extra syllable? I’m fascinated by that question, actually. And I think that it may be related to the culture of the corporate cubicle farm.* Stick with me for a second.

We all use language daily to communicate on several levels. Sure, there are the literal words we’re speaking or writing, but the message we’re trying to convey is often more complicated. Consider the last time you heard, “Well, that’s just great” delivered with biting sarcasm, and you’ll see what I mean.

In the workplace (and elsewhere), we often choose language in the hope of telegraphing ideas about ourselves — messages like “I’m intelligent” or “I’m valuable” that make us look better. Granted, this isn’t unique to corporate environments, but it seems a little more prevalent in that atmosphere, where the stereotypical dynamic can be downright cutthroat.

So when someone writes, “These advertising strategies are customer-centric,” maybe she’s unconsciously trying to sound savvy. When someone says, “What’s the end result of this scenario?” — using two words, not one, that mean “outcome” — maybe he’s hoping others see him as a no-nonsense guy who cuts to the chase.

It’s just a theory.

And in case you haven’t figured out how to tighten up the phrase end result, the fix is simple. Use your delete key to get rid of the word end.

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*Disclosure: I haven’t worked in a cubicle since the late ’90s, and I’m grateful for that. But I’ve encountered many cubicle dwellers since then, and I still think I might be on to something.


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