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)

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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 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, "Betrayal at South Carolina reveals true heart of the SEC," 18 Nov. 2020 That dominance has not been a golden parachute, though. Kurt Streeter, New York Times, "Breanna Stewart’s Comeback Is Going to Take a Little Longer," 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, "After the Allen ISD superintendent left to lead his hometown district, the wheels came off his career," 27 Feb. 2020 For people in poor countries with few opportunities, this dangerous job can seem like a golden parachute. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Why Liquid Mercury Is So Damn Weird," 19 Feb. 2020 Former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg's 2019 has included a second deadly 737 Max jet crash, several missed safety warnings, brutal Congressional grillings, blown deadlines, an airplane-production halt, and now a multi-million-dollar golden parachute. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Boeing's ousted CEO could get $26.5 million golden parachute," 23 Dec. 2019 Such golden parachutes are products of a cyclical paradox of sorts. Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY, "Fired or hired: Brady Hoke example of how hot market takes care of college football assistant coaches," 10 Dec. 2019 The unanimous vote, for what critics call a golden parachute, would saddle taxpayers with untold future costs. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Warren City Council handed itself lifetime health care; Mayor Fouts vows to block it," 19 Nov. 2019 But the impending layoffs have become a lightning rod issue because of Neumann's golden parachute included with the SoftBank bailout. Sara Ashley O'brien, CNN, "WeWork braces for mass layoffs this week," 18 Nov. 2019

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

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Golden parachute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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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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