A good friend of mine recently contacted me after reading my book, “Picking the Low Hanging Fruit…and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World.” He had two important things to tell me about my book. First, he wanted me to know that my book was perhaps the funniest book he had ever read in his entire life (I might be exaggerating just a little on this one both about how funny he thought the book was as well as whether he actually said anything even close to that at all). Second, and probably more importantly for this blog, he had a specific comment about one of the stupid corporate expressions covered in the book – dovetail. He said, “…a dovetail is a woodworking term for a clever type of wood join.” At first, I was somewhat taken aback that it had nothing to do with birds. This was mostly because I recently invested far too much time sitting in my backyard spying on two doves who had been nesting there for the Spring. Now I was feeling a bit foolish about my obviously flawed approach to shedding some light on this corporate conundrum.

dovetailI quickly got over my disappointment about the birds, though, because I knew how knowledgeable and capable my good friend is in the world of carpentry. He’s been a woodworking DIY builder of many needed things for the home through the years (as well as a good number of completely unnecessary contraptions that I didn’t understand at all but were at least built with very sound woodworking foundations).

Not that we shouldn’t trust the woodworking terminology expertise of my good friend, but I did have to balance that with the fact that he once built himself a home-made version of a guitar amplifier that he then subsequently attempted to sell on eBay. So in the spirit of getting more than one perspective, here is the google definition of the term dovetail:

“…a joint formed by one or more tapered projections (tenons) on one piece that interlock with corresponding notches or recesses (mortises) in another.”

Wow I have some smart friends who actually know a thing or two about a thing or two! Admittedly, I have no idea was a tapered projection is. This certainly might explain why the wooden heart shaped jewelry box I constructed in High School Woodshop years ago looked so unrecognizable that I had to tell my mom what it was when I gave it to her. Nor do the words tenons, recesses, or mortises mean anything at all to me. But maybe those will be found in my next book, “Tapered Projections & Mortises…and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Carpentry World.” Until I write that book, which will inevitably end up on the New York Times Best Seller list, I thought this information was compelling to pass along to all of us corporate non-carpenters who fling the dovetail expression around like it’s going out of style but who probably have no idea where it originated. You can all thank my woodworking good friend for his nice contribution to our understanding of bizarre corporate lingo. I feel at least 3.6% smarter already.

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