In a work setting, as in "They had to present their project to his directs."

Does it mean people who work directly under him, above him, or someone else?

  • 1
    Presumably they mean "direct reports" -- his immediate underlings. Business jargon.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 22, 2017 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


While you have not provided adequate context to know for certain here, in business jargon, direct is short for direct report, which refers to

an employee whose position at work is directly below that of another person, and who is managed by that person

as per the Cambridge Business English Dictionary. To report to someone is to be under their supervision; to directly report to someone is to do so without any intervening layers or convoluted arrangements. A worker might be a direct report to a manager, who is a direct report to a director, who is a direct report to a vice president. Even though the worker, like everyone else in the department, ultimately reports to the vice president, she is a direct report only to the manager.

It is not common to refer to subordinate employees as reports in general, and this sense is not given in the OED, for example. I suspect it is a relatively recent coinage that allows one to distinguish between the relationship between two adjacent rungs on the corporate ladder and those more distantly removed. It also avoids terms like subordinate or underling which may have unpleasant connotations of hierarchy.

The earliest Google Books example I could turn up is from a 1992 court case, and direct report is set off in quotation marks, suggesting its use was not yet widespread.

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