15 Of The Funniest Definitions For Silicon Valley Lingo

The web has seen numerous takes on the lingo of Silicon Valley residents, venture capitalists and geeks in general throughout the years, with a majority taking the form of memes and videos making use of empirical humor. Nobody, however, seemed to have thought of creating a dedicated online appendix for geekspeak until July of 2015. That’s when three software engineers from the Valley, Kilim Choi, Matt Hui, and Zeeshan Javed – inspired by HBO’s Silicon Valley TV series and its accurate portrayal of the language they had grown so accustomed to at their own jobs – decided to create Silicon Valley Dictionary.


As the name suggests, the website is meant as a crowd-sourced hub of vocabulary that loses meaning outside the San Francisco Bay Area. Simply put, it is to Silicon Valley lingo what Urban Dictionary is to general slang. The site’s repository of SV jargon has grown steadily through the past few months, and is ready to be reaped for a list of the most entertaining entries. So, without further ado, here is a list of our favorite definitions from the Silicon Valley Dictionary.

1. Engineer Unicorn

An engineer that is competent, good looking, dresses well and is not socially awkward.

John: How come no other engineers are like David?
Mary: He’s an engineer unicorn. They are rare.

2. In the wild

Seeing a new technology out in the real world, not just at launches and demos.

Have you spotted the new Google car in the wild yet?

3. This changes everything

Nothing has changed. Pure marketing.

Introducing the iPhone 4. This changes everything.

4. Buzzfeed Writer

A mediocre writer, but decent list builder. Their article titles usually follow the model: [Number] [Subject] So [Hyperbole] You [Claim]

10 Clickbaity Titles So Enticing You Have To Click

5. MBA

Certification that you’ve read case studies on how others have succeeded.

Steve: Have you started your business yet?
Jeremey: No I’m getting my MBA. I’ll start my first business when I’m 30 and have a wife and kids.

6. Apple Maps Bad

A phrase used to indicate the low quality of a product because Apple Maps is barely usable.

7. Waterloo

A mythical University in Canada where many good Engineers and Computer Scientists come from.

Sam: “Where are all these Canadians from?”
Matthew: “We hired 10 interns and 20 full-times from Waterloo. They get shit done because if we don’t hire them, they’ll have to work for Blackberry.”

8. VC Money

Modern day Robinhood. 
Taking money from your parents’ retirement pension and redistributing it to early adopters of technology in Silicon Valley.

Friend 1: “How do you have so many free meals from Munchery? Have you ever paid for a single meal?” 

Friend 2: “Nope. VC Money”

9. Founder Syndrome

Founder syndrome is when a company’s founder starts thinking he is a rockstar and that the startup is still going because of his bright opinions on everything. He starts neglecting what engineering proposes and puts his nose in every single detail. It can also be called the “I’m like Steve Jobs” Syndrome.

Founder at early stage: Guys! Let’s work together and make it happen, we all rock. 

Founder after the syndrome: No, just do it like I said, everybody is using this Ruby On Rails thing, we must use it too.

10. Freemium

A strategy used by startups to make money by shoving as many people through the top of a funnel as possible and hoping some of them convert into paid users.

Matthew: Right now we have a shitty product that nobody will pay for. Lets release it for free so at least somebody will use it and then we can gradually improve it and charge them for extra services.

11. Early Employee

A founder who will take 1% of the company instead of 25%. This is a polite way of saying “sucker.”

CEO: “We couldn’t have done it without a few great early employees.”

12. Soylent Profitable

A term that can be used interchangeably with ramen profitable. Basically means the same thing as ramen profitable except founders of the startup are drinking soylent. With the increase in popularity, its rich nutrition and affordability, more and more health-concerned entrepreneurs are changing their diet to soylent.

“Soylent profitable is the new Ramen profitable.” – Kim-Mai Cutler

13. One Dollar Billionaire

Refers to the $1 a year salary that a lot of founders and top executives take on for tax benefits. It’s also because who really cares about salary when you have a billion dollars.

Mark Zuckerberg: I make $1 a year. You know what that means.

14. 10x Engineer

A developer who incurs technical debt so fast he appears more productive than the ten developers tasked with cleaning his mess up.

Founder: “We are only looking for 10x Engineers.”

15. Vanity Metrics

Useless data that looks good but does not necessarily correlate real success.

Bob: Our website gets a million views daily!
Mark: How many of them are you converting to paid users?
Bob: Well.. we are still working on that.

Sameed Khan

I write, game, design at times, and revel in sarcasm. You can find me on Twitter.