I'm curious what the association(s) are with the word 'makeshift"
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I'm going to say that it depends on context.
Is very positive. However,
Is pretty negative.
It is rare for something makeshift—that is, improvised using the materials and tools at hand—to equal in quality something carefully planned and built without special limitations or restrictions. To the extent that you compare a makeshift thing to an intended-to-be-permanent thing, the makeshift will be at a disadvantage.
But if instead you focus on the ingenuity of producing something workable out of meager supplies, using limited tools, the makeshift looks quite admirable.
To my ear, while makeshift (it will do the job it was designed to do, but it probably won't last for an extended period of time) sounds a little less positive than improvised (it was designed off the cuff, and yet it may last indefinitely), it sounds significantly more positive than stopgap (it will function for a short time, but you'd better replace it as soon as you can).
Makeshift by definition means the ability to fix something or make something, but it is not a permanent solution. It is more like a patch.
In my opinion I do not see makeshift as a positive or a negative word. Context dependent.
If you have a broken leg and you make a makeshift crutch, that is a pretty good thing.
If you are building a 6 axis CNC system and you use makeshift motors, this inevitably will end up being a bad thing.
Part of the word from makeshift, make (verb) means to build, construct etc.
Within the computer industry, due to time constraints and customers being a complete pain. We would normally make makeshift systems to temporarily get the system(s) online. By all means, they were not a permanent fix.
I would say in most cases that the word makeshift implies both negative and positive.
On the positive side is the person or team that provided the makeshift solution. They did a great job with what they had and something is better than nothing.
On the negative side makeshift implies temporary and not perfect. The negativity focuses more on the situation and the fact that the perfect solution wasn't provided.
So you want to create a makeshift solution, not be a makeshift solution.
I am going to disagree with cobaltduck and Arthor. The term very much carries a pejorative connotation. "Makeshift" describes an item or solution that is an inferior substitute for the actual thing.
Take the case of the makeshift crutch referenced above. If you had a broken leg and could choose between a makeshift crutch and the actual medical device, which would you choose? The hiker lost in the woods creates a makeshift shelter because a properly constructed long term shelter is not available or too time-consuming to build.