Jargon is a highly specialized sort of shorthand which is used among followers of a particular trade or hobby, characterized by the usage of terms which are unfamiliar to most people. Speakers of jargon may also use common words in unusual ways, reflecting common usage among their group. Essentially, jargon is a language of technical terms, and it can be incomprehensible to people who are not familiar with the topic under discussion. Some people also use the term pejoratively, to describe nonsense language or language which is so overwrought that it is impossible to understand.
When jargon is used as a pejorative, it is usually meant to criticize someone for appearing to speak nonsense, or to indicate that someone is having difficulty following a conversation. The word was actually originally used in this sense, borrowed from an Old French word which means “the twittering of birds.” This usage of “jargon” dates back to the 1300s, and by the 1600s people were also using the word to refer to complex technical conversations.
Many industries are heavily characterized by jargon including engineering, physics, and computer science. Specialists in these fields acquire technical jargon as they train, and they often discuss issues which people outside their field cannot understand. Their speech may be littered with references to devices and concepts which are unknown outside the field, thus making it sound almost like a foreign language. This sort of jargon is not necessarily meant to cut people out or to make people feel stupid, although it often has this effect.
Hobbyists and enthusiasts also speak in jargon. In this case, the jargon usually refers to concepts which are of little interest to people who do not follow the sport or hobby activity under discussion. Sports fans, for example, may be able to spout statistics and facts about their sport, while a model hobbyist can speak at length about various types of epoxy. To people who are not engaged in the topic, these types of conversations can get very dull very quickly.
Often, jargon is unavoidable, because it reflects an intense level of interest or training in a particular subject. In other cases, people may use jargon to make themselves appear more familiar with something than they actually are, or to seem more impressive. This usage of jargon is often frowned upon, because some people view it as a deliberate attempt to show off.