The word “employee” has its roots in “plicare,” to bend or ply. As in, you must bend to my will.


Bad Word of the Day: Employee


  • Collaborator? Too much baggage (blame it on WWII movies).
  • Member? What is this, a club?
  • Team member? Meh…
  • Teammate? OK for a sports team, I guess.
  • Player? May work in some contexts, but not in general.
  • Crew? Kinda cool. That’s what Decurion calls its employees.
  • Associate? Noncommittal (“we are not really in a relationship, just dating regularly”).
  • Colleague? Used at The Morning Star Company, a billion-dollar company that’s completely self-managed.

Our solution is to refer to ourselves as “Nearsoftians” or just plain “people.” Other companies use similar terms (e.g., Zapponians at Zappos).

Nevertheless, I wish there was a more general alternative for “employee.”

And, BTW, I am not the only one that thinks that “employee” is the dirtiest word in the corporate lexicon.

Looking for more Bad Words of the Day?