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I'm looking for a word that defines that something is out of our control in a business sense. For example, we can't control the postal delivery time, so it is... (out of our control). Needs to be ONE word, please.

EDIT - not uncontrollable. It is also not chaotic, like "the children are out of control".

EDIT2: - to further explain, in my thesis I have a number of dependencies. Most of them our company can control as we manage them. However, a few of these dependencies we are not able to control because they are managed by someone else. So I'm looking to see if there is a word that can explain this other than saying "dependencies that are out of our control".

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Uncontrollable? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 10 '13 at 17:50
These sound like external factors. – onomatomaniak Apr 10 '13 at 18:43
I don't think you've made a compelling case for limiting yourself (and us!) to one word (after reading edit 2). Unfortunately, most of the single words that literally mean "not capable of being controlled" also have the inconvenient connotation of being wild or chaotic. It sounds like you need to keep a neutral tone; so you are stuck with using multiple words (not horrible, in my opinion) or actually @onomatomaniak's external. "External dependencies" is not too far from "external factors".... – John Y Apr 10 '13 at 20:59
External factors is good. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 21:40
As a follow-up to my earlier comment, if what's being sought is a stand-alone noun, OP could use externals or externalities. – onomatomaniak Apr 10 '13 at 21:41

If you are writing a contract, I think there are multi-word possibilities your attorneys can supply, but the one word I can think of closest to what you want is exogenous.

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It's not exactly the same as "out of our control", but I'd say it's a reasonable stretch. If you were to use this word where you would otherwise use "out of our control", I think people would get what you mean. – John Y Apr 10 '13 at 19:57
I thought exogenous relates to things biological? – Andrew Findlay Apr 10 '13 at 20:08
@AndrewFindlay: Usually used there, but not exclusively. It also has regular use in anthropology. I don't think it's a science term-of-art. If there were one perfect word, someone would probably have posted it already. – Andrew Lazarus Apr 10 '13 at 20:33

If something is not in your control, it could be:

  • "independent"
  • "autonomous"
  • "free" (of your control)
  • "sovereign"
  • "uncontrolled" (which is different that uncontrollable)
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@EdwinAshworth, unbiddable and self-regulating work for me too, but "unharnessable" sounds like something out of everyone's control, not just ours (like a runaway horse!) :-) – Kristina Lopez Apr 10 '13 at 20:27
unharnessable, ungovernable,unmanageable, unbiddable, self-regulating ... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 20:28
Sorry I've destroyed sensible order - I just missed the 5-min deadline. I'd say 'unharnessable' does connote wildness, and perhaps that is a descriptor a bit unfair to saddle the postal services with. Some of our local services, though ...? Notice that we're talking about services alleged to serve here - I wouldn't call a lion 'unharnessable'. Then again, I'd choose 'beyond our control' here. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 20:45

Chaos might be the word you're looking for. Also, chaotic, the adjectival form of chaos.


Amok, haywire, and wild are other suggestions.


Wild could still apply in some cases. However, perhaps you are looking for independent? I don't believe so, but it is the closest word I can think of at the moment that applies.

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no, that is not it – Andrew Findlay Apr 10 '13 at 18:01
no, this is not the right context. Here's another example - the sun rises every day. it is out of control, it is not chaotic or the other suggestions. It should mean we have no control over how something happens – Andrew Findlay Apr 10 '13 at 18:12
Saying 'sun is out of control' also does not make any sense. – Dude Apr 10 '13 at 18:31
I believe he means, "The Sun is out of our control". – 4rkain3 Apr 10 '13 at 18:33

I am tempted to think of "unregulable" as the word you are looking for, though it is an uncommon word and few dictionaries list it.

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is one possibility (having to type 30 chars for a one word answer is a very tractable UI issue for SO).

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Use those characters to flesh out your answer. For instance, link to a definition, provide relevant usage examples, or explain why you think it's a suitable word. – aedia λ Apr 11 '13 at 6:11

Inevitable has two senses that might work well:

  1. Impossible to avoid or prevent. [eg] We were going so fast that the collision was inevitable.

  2. Predictable, or always happening. [eg] My outburst met with the inevitable punishment.

In a business context you might speak of a foregone conclusion (“A predictable or inevitable conclusion...”).

Predetermined, simple past tense and past participle of predetermine (“To determine or decide in advance”) might also work.

Also fated (“Foreordained, predetermined, established in advance by fate”).

I think foreordain (“To predestine or preordain”) is seen less commonly than is preordain (“To determine the fate of something in advance”). Forms of the verbs predetermine, predestine, foreordain, preordain and in some cases ordain (in sense “to prearrange unalterably” or in sense “to predestine”), often are used of things that are avolitional, that is, not under the control of whatever parties are involved.

Also consider mandatory (“Obligatory; required or commanded by authority”), involuntary (“Not voluntary or willing...”), and obligatory.

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Independent variables affecting your system from the outside are inputs. Input parameters which are quasi-constant (do not change often) are given. E.g. you don't control some tax rate, but it is given. It does not fluctuate, like mail delivery times.

An external influence is imposed. (We are forced to accomodate to it, rather than manipulating it to suit our convenience).

"We don't control the tax rate; it is {given / imposed (on us)}."

"We can't control postal delivery times, they are imposed (on us)."

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protected by RegDwigнt Apr 13 '13 at 12:44

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