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stress puppy

noun [countable]

a person who seems to thrive on stress but constantly complains about it

'… When I applied for this position, it was suggested to me that, historically, this has been a job for stress puppies with a reckless disregard for their own mental and physical health.'

Kerry Day in Trent University Community Magazine 2002

The informal term stress puppy has been used on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-1990s, and is one of many coinings spawned by the increasing use of 'office jargon', humorous terms intended to relieve the monotony of working life as they describe individuals and working practices that many people recognise and relate to.

the term stress puppy is one of many coinings spawned by the increasing use of 'office jargon'

In addition to stress puppy, among the more recent innovations for describing individuals in the office environment are informal terms like alpha geek, to describe the most knowledgeable, technically-proficient person in an office or workgroup, and idea hamster (also ideas hamster), referring to someone who continually seems to have and communicate new ideas.

In the United States, dittoheads are people who mindlessly agree with an idea, especially because they are supporters of the person who proposed it, and an i-dotter or t-crosser is someone who is fastidious and pays a lot of attention to detail (from the idiom dot the i's and cross the t's).

A seagull manager is a manager who only comes into the office periodically, when a problem arises or in order to criticise employees, and a chainsaw consultant is an expert who is brought in to advise how the number of employees can be reduced, thereby taking the feeling of responsibility away from top managers.

Recent years have seen the development of a similar array of terms associated with working practices in the office. A humorous example is the word blamestorming (a play on the fashionable practice of brainstorming), referring to the activity of sitting in a group to discuss why something was not achieved and decide who was responsible.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 17th October 2003.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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