‘You’re on Mute’ and ‘Unprecedented’: The Words of the Year


“You’re dumb” was said in 1,000 percent more calls between executives and investors in 2020 compared to 2019.

December 29, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic released a new dictionary in 2020, and it appears that the American company started speaking a new language overnight. In conversations between executives and investors, there were a number of words and phrases used to describe the … unprecedented moment we were all in. These are some of the terms that have skyrocketed in use this year based on more than 20,000 corporate presentations we analyzed with Sentieo, a research company. (Surprisingly, executives swore as much as they did last year.)

+ 70,830%

“These are unprecedented times. Much of our reopening is not just our decision. We are not in full control. ” Christine McCarthy, CFO of the Walt Disney Company September 9th

+ 70%

“We have never been in a challenging environment.”
Larry Culp Jr., CEO of General Electric 28th of October

+ 4,180%

+ 26,820%

+ 1,000%

“If a call goes by in 2020 without someone saying, ‘You are dumb,’ the year would not be complete.”
Aman Bhutani, GoDaddy CEO 15th December

+ 310%

No change

“So expanding the shelter on site – or frankly I would call it the forcible detention of people in their homes against all of their constitutional rights – but that’s my opinion – and breaking people’s freedoms in terrible and wrong ways not why people came to America or built this country. What the (expletive). Excuse me. It’s outrage. It’s an outrage. “
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla April 29

Source: Sentieo • Figures come from transcripts of investor calls for all companies listed on the US stock exchange. Prevalence is measured by the number of transcripts that contain a phrase, not all of the individual mentions. Data as of December 28th. • Illustration from the New York Times