Eleven Words of Accountingspeak that Changed My Career

“Is she tight?”

For some reason, in the fatigue of a late spring morning after a grueling tax season, my mind hung on the word, which is, among other things, slang for “tipsy.” The question inexplicably summoned up the image of a renegade ship from one of those half-forgotten childhood adventure novels, complete with pirates in a scramble up the rigging, cursing mightily as they trimmed the sails in a fierce wind.

“Yes, sir, she’s tight.”

Henry, one of the partners in the staid, decades-old CPA firm where I worked, was of course referring to the audit, in the form of two bulging, string-bound manila folders that I had just placed on his desk for review. This was the early 2000s, in the twilight of paper-based audits, before everything went electronic. I was a junior auditor in my third year, and had recently graduated from working on senior staff members’ audits to heading up my own very small ones.

I knew what “tight” meant. It meant that you had cleaned up all the loose ends in your field work, that your numerical schedules footed (summed) perfectly, that you had run a well thought out set of analytical procedures to uncover any glaring signs of fraud or incompetence. It meant a thousand small things. But it was also related to a more mysterious question Henry often posed, which true to form on this morning immediately followed:

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