golden parachute


Definition of golden parachute

: a generous severance agreement for a corporate executive in the event of a sudden dismissal (as because of a merger)

The Gilded History of Golden Parachute

In 1981 an employee of a major company undergoing a corporate merger referred cynically to the huge severance packages given ejected executives as "golden parachutes." It isn't clear whether the employee actually coined the term, but it is well documented that both "golden" and "parachute" were already part of corporate parlance by that time. Since the 1960s, the business world had been using "golden handshake" for a compensatory package accompanying a termination or forced retirement. The image of the parachute, evoking a comfortable and painless landing, may have been inspired by the popular book about career change by Richard Bolles, titled What Color Is Your Parachute?

Examples of golden parachute in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Additionally, Allbirds is not required to hold a stockholder advisory vote on executive compensation or previously unapproved golden parachute payments. David Trainer, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2021 Bresch, the daughter of West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, reportedly received a $30 million golden parachute. Matt Wall, Fox News, 12 July 2021 The documentary spends a lot of time on Adam Neumann, who ended up with a $1.7 billion golden parachute. Fortune, 8 Apr. 2021 The golden parachute accounted for more than half of the $11.3 million in total compensation five USAA insurance companies paid him last year. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, 5 Mar. 2021 Presidents didn’t always leave office with a golden parachute. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, 15 Jan. 2021 Combine his golden parachute from South Carolina with over $6 million that the University of Florida paid him to go away, and Muschamp probably doesn’t need to ever work again based solely upon the money he was given to stop working. Joseph Goodman |, al, 18 Nov. 2020 That dominance has not been a golden parachute, though. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, 9 May 2020 The board approved a final payout of $789,000, an extraordinarily high golden parachute in Texas public education that amounted to two years’ salary plus unused vacation time. Dallas News, 27 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'golden parachute.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of golden parachute

1981, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of golden parachute was in 1981

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Golden parachute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for golden parachute

golden parachute


English Language Learners Definition of golden parachute

: a large amount of money that a company pays to an executive who is being forced to leave the company

golden parachute

gold·​en para·​chute

Legal Definition of golden parachute

: an agreement providing for generous compensation to an executive upon dismissal


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