Dictionary of Analytics Terms

We got a great response to our previous post about building a language for data analysts. Thank you all for sharing. Attribution is in parentheses next to the terms. We can keep adding to this resources as new idea come in.


abracadata (Jamel): Data with no little or no validity.

analycide (flipsockgrrl): Death by navel-gazing.

atomic baloney slicer: Massive and complex enterprise software solution that attempts to do more than is necessary to solve the problem.

bitpicking (Jay): Carefully choosing data to create the most favorable impression.

cackulating (flipsockgrrl): The process of producing laughable statistics.

crossflab (Jamel): An unnecessary cross tabulation or pivot table.

chart-based encryption: A chart that has managed to fully mask the message of the data through poor design.

chartjunk: Popularized by Edward Tufte, “unnecessary or confusing visual elements in charts and graphs. Markings and visual elements can be called chartjunk if they are not part of the minimum set of visuals necessary to communicate the information understandably." [Wikipedia]

dancing baloney (Bill): Any animated chartjunk that draws the eye away from focal data.

data storehouse (Jamel): The part of a data warehouse that no one ever uses.

defart (Teresa): Charts that are left with the default Excel formatting. A.k.a. commando charts (Aaron)

documentate (flipsockgrrl): to write down the results of your cogitation, not because you thought of anything particularly brilliant, but because your boss is impressed by wads of paperwork.

dysfactia (flipsockgrrl): an inability to recall or quote numbers accurately (coined by David Weinberger in 2003).

enterprise data bean (Jamel): A single piece of data extracted from an enterprise data system.

execuhole: A senior manager who requests analysis and reporting but doesn’t appear to read, comprehend, or otherwise absorb the information.

flufferpoint (Winthrop Hayes): A presentation that attempts to distract from the lack of substantive content or evidence with use of screenbeans, clip art, and other stock pictures or illustrations. A.k.a. clipterfuge (Todd Moy), clusterpoint (Cathy), The Macy’s Data Day Fluff Parade (Jamel)

frankensheet (Dermot via Rob Bruce): A spreadsheet that has grown organically to become thoroughly incomprehensible outside of the mind of the owner. A.k.a. single-user solution (Kruncher), creepsheet (Darrell)

mental gymnasties (flipsockgrrl): the arithmetical problem that’s too embarrassingly simple to borrow a calculator for, but too hard to do in your head.

pimp my chart: The process of creating reports, dashboards or individual charts that have a shiny surfaces, 3-D elements, and other exaggerated design elements. Related to chartjunk. Pimped-up charts are sometimes mistakenly presented as well-designed executive dashboards.

Quack-Scholes (Todd Moy): A situation when someone describes a series of complex-sounding statistical techniques (e.g. multi-variate logistic regression, cluster analysis, ANOVA) in an attempt to impress others. A.k.a. quant-dropping (Aaron), bullstat (Winthrop Hayes)

reporticane (Winthrop Hayes): An organizational problem where there is an excessive number of reports being generated and little understanding of the purpose. A.k.a. blackhole reporting (Kruncher), reportiferation (Cathy)

sheetcake (Jay): Excessive use of color and formatting.

sociomath (flipsockgrrl): someone who derives intense pleasure from public calculation, e.g. working out how much of the restaurant bill each member of the group should pay.

spreadalanche (Winthrop Hayes): A data file with more than 65,536 rows, thus making it impossible to load in Excel versions prior to Excel 2007. A.k.a. truncated (Dermot), Spreadache (Jay)

spreadhead/spreadgeek (Derek/Andy): A person who uses spreadsheets to do everything, even complicated statistics or things that others would use a database or BI program for.

statrat (Jamel): A person who uses statistics software to do everything, even simple arithmetic.

upgrade (Michael): When users are forced to migrate from a system that is capable of producing the required reports to a system that is not capable of producing those reports.

you sunk my battleship: When someone requests a meeting time that conflicts with one of only a few events you have on your calendar.