Impedance mismatch

IMPEDANCE MISMATCH: “In the field of electronics, Impedance matching is the practice of designing the input impedance of an electrical load or the output impedance of its corresponding signal source in order to maximize the power transfer and minimize reflections from the load.” — from Wikipedia’s entry for impedance matching

If you don’t understand this definition (and I don’t), you have no business using the phrase impendance mismatch. And yet, decrying this tragic inconsistency is fast becoming the new delta (Not that delta was all that old).

Not being a techie, I’m a little hazy on how this phrase escaped from the rarified realm of electrical engineering, but it seems to have emigrated quietly into the world of software development, notably in the term object-relational impedance mismatch. Already, this is wrong. Nowhere is impedance in play; the term should simply be object-relational mismatch. But geeks will be geeks. MBAs, not to be outdone by their jargon-spewing colleagues, are latching onto the phrase to sound more knowledgeable, and now it’s spilling over into “the real world,” as in this op-ed on toll roads:

Relative to what is levied, there is an impedance mismatch between what we pay and the services that are rendered.

What’s wrong with mismatch? How about inconsistency or disconnect? Here’s a good one — use active voice and say “What we pay in taxes doesn’t match the services we receive.”

Meh, like anyone cares what I think. The impedance in impedance mismatch adds nothing but ignorance and verbiage to your writing. However, because it adds a sort of fluffy pretentiousness, it will win and succinctness will lose. If that isn’t an impedance to good writing, I don’t know what is.

Otto E. Mezzo, suggested by Lex

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please please please don’t follow my example. The correct word for something that slows you down is impediment. Impedance refers only to resistance in an electrical circuit. So please — oh, never mind. Just shoot me now.


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