Even coalition ministers have little idea what David Cameron's Big Society idea means, a member of the Government has admitted.
Tory Tim Loughton said charities frequently used the "buzz phrase" when lobbying politicians, but the majority of people struggle to understand the concept.
Delivering a speech to volunteering organisation CSV, the children's minister said: "The trouble is that most people don't know what the Big Society really means, least of all the unfortunate ministers who have to articulate it.
"What actually is the Big Society, let alone is it good or not? Exactly how big is it now or is it going to be? Is it in fact Ann Widdecombe?
"Is it a very British thing? Or is it another American import?"
Mr Cameron made great play of the Big Society during the general election campaign, describing it as his "great passion" that would enhance "people power".
His vision is for volunteers, charities and communities to take responsibility for reforming society themselves, rather than leaving it to central government.
However, the idea has come under fire for being too abstract and vague.
Giving the Edith Kahn Memorial Lecture in the House of Lords, Mr Loughton said: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a voluntary organisation in possession of a good idea and in want of a meeting with a minister will use the buzz phrase 'Big Society' before breakfast, lunch and dinner - to open with a cacophonous car crash of mixed misquotes."
Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham told the Daily Telegraph: "Tim Loughton should at least get credit for saying what the rest of the country has been thinking."