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Throwing in the Towel: Vocabulary for Ending Your Workday or Job

While the discussion of giving up on a hard project or quitting one’s job may sometimes be difficult, the language for talking about these issues is useful to know. Below is a list of English vocabulary phrases that will inevitably come up when referring to the end of a workday, or even a term of employment. In this list, you will discover both formal and informal terms, as well as clarifications on technical differences between similar expressions.


  1. To throw in the towel: Refers to a sign of defeat.

  2. Writing on the wall: If one has “read the writing on the wall,” then one knows that something is doomed to fail.

  3. To call it a day: Refers to when one is tired of working on, done with, or doesn’t want to finish something.

  4. To get off work: Refers to when one is done with work and can leave for the day.

  5. Pink slip: If one gets a “pink slip,” they have been dismissed from their job (see “fired”).

  6. Fired: If one gets “fired,” they have been dismissed from their job (see “pink slip”).

  7. To get laid off (to lay off): If one gets “laid off,” they are dismissed from their job at the fault of the company. Getting “laid off” is also different from getting “fired” or the “pink slip,” since one who is “laid off” still has a right to receive benefits from their company.

  8. To let someone go: A polite way of saying someone has been dismissed from their job.

  9. To quit: When the employee chooses to leave their job (less formal term than “resign”).

  10. To resign: When the employee chooses to leave their job (more formal term than “quit”).

  11. To burn bridges: To burn bridges refers to ruining/destroying connections with a company, boss, coworker, friend, etc., since one knows they will never see them again.

  12. Cut ties: To end a relationship (with a job, employer, friend, etc.).

Throwing in the Towel: Vocabulary in Context

Normally at work, I call it a day after my last meeting. After I get off work at 5 PM, I typically go home and cook dinner. However, today I decided to throw in the towel and finally quit my job. Instead of working until 5 PM, I ended up leaving early at 2 PM and resigning from my job. I saw the writing on the wall after my boss let my coworkers go, and realized that our company was doomed to fail and fall apart. Coworkers said that the business was planning on laying off most of the employees, and I did not want to get the pink slip like many of my coworkers who were already fired from their jobs. By quitting my job, I cut ties with this company forever. I am alright burning bridges with this employer, since I will never see any of my coworkers again and will never return to this job.

Try practicing the Throwing in the Towel vocabulary with this !

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Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.

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