English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My Outlook flags the word "solutioning" as a spelling mistake.

According to Urban Dictionary :

solutioning: A word many business people misuse to describe the process of creating a solution. These people need a grammar lesson and should be fired immediately.

Is the word correct?

share|improve this question
When the only place you can find a word is the Urban Dictionary, then it's probably either a very rare word, or not a real word at all. But what's in a word? There can be a lot of gray area on what constitutes a "correct English word." – J.R. May 9 '12 at 18:41
I don’t know about correct or incorrect, but it certainly rubs me the wrong way. – tchrist May 9 '12 at 18:55
It is not a word. – Kris May 9 '12 at 19:00
Correct in what sense? English is a natural, evolving language. correct/incorrect is not a constructive way to look at this question. – Matt E. Эллен May 10 '12 at 9:22
I can't comment on its correctness, however, I have seen it used within the software industry to describe the act of solving a business problem with software application(s). In several development environments a "solution" is an actual item, not simply a concept. It is often the highest level object containing all the other pieces of code or resources to be delivered in a program. In this sense, I can see how the noun/verb creativity could evolve. "The vendor is solutioning that for us next year" ... "That was solutioned with XYZ, ABC, and 123" Lazy? Yes. Correct? Maybe not. Useful? Yes – Shawn May 16 '13 at 17:46
up vote 24 down vote accepted

I presume you mean "solution" in the sense of finding a way to overcome a problem. In that case, "solution" is the noun form of "solve". There's no need to take a noun derived from a verb and then derive yet another verb from that noun. You say "We are working on solving the problem", NOT "We are working on solutioning the problem."

If by "solution" you mean a solid mixed into a liquid, then the verb is "dissolve". Again, no need to invent a new word.

If there's some reason why you need to distinguish some method or process of finding solutions, or some specific approach to finding solutions, from simply solving problems, I suppose it's plausible to invent a new word.

But please please please don't tell me that you want to say "we solutioned the problem" rather than "we solved the problem" because it "sounds more professional" or something like that. I hate it when people utilize paradigms inculcating contra-diminutive words for the ostensible objective of maximizing pretentiousness.

share|improve this answer
+1 (Just for the pleasure of reading your last sentence!) – JLG May 9 '12 at 21:13
Using solution as a verb meaning solve is an example of what I have heard called MBA-speak. Just today my boss wrote in an e-mail "we will have a meeting about this to solution it in the future". – John Y May 9 '12 at 21:16
Don't you mean leveraging pretentiousness? – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 May 9 '12 at 21:21
@RedDwight I meant that there's no need to derive a verb from a noun that was derived from a verb TO MEAN THE SAME THING AS THE ORIGINAL VERB. Yes, it's valid and good if the meaning is different. Like, beg, verb, to ask for charity; beggar, noun, one who lives off of charity; beggar, verb, to reduce someone to poverty. "Beggar" (the verb) has a very different meaning from "beg", so a new word is appropriate. – Jay May 10 '12 at 14:24
I am not about to start "Solutioning," so you'll just have to stop "Probleming". – Devon_C_Miller Jan 9 '15 at 23:00

There is a verb solution meaning ‘To treat with, fasten or secure by, a solution’. There is no reason why it should not have an -ing form.

share|improve this answer
May I ask you to use the verb solution and its -ing form in a sentence? I'm not seeing it. "To treat with a solution" — as perhaps with a cleaning solution? – JLG May 10 '12 at 5:23
@JLG: ‘If you have a puncture while cycling it’s preferable to fit a new inner tube, but solutioning a patch on to the damaged tube will effect a temporary repair.’ – Barrie England May 10 '12 at 6:07
Is that a British or regional use? I have personally never heard someone use "solution" to mean "attach," or seen it in writing before now. – user9383 Apr 24 '15 at 15:06

There is an actual job title of "Solutioner" in a lot of IT companies, such as IBM. The act of fulfilling their job role is known as "Solutioning". So if it is a made-up word, it is because the job title has brought it into existence.

share|improve this answer

"They were curious if we could offer IP phones as a service in the interim until the solutioning of their new IP system is in place and configured."

Used in context where solutioning refers to the actions of Solution Directors and finding a solution to a problem.

share|improve this answer
Is “Solution Directors” some sort of business? Why is it capitalized like that? I do hope your realize that we no longer capitalize Important Words in English just to give them Proper Emphasis. – tchrist Mar 29 '13 at 17:24

I work in the semiconductor industry where engineers place a great economy on communication; frugality with words leads us to use a lot of acronyms for technical terms. There is also an emphasis on actions and outcomes rather than patience with something that is uncertain or not yet finished. As a result we would object to the sentence example “We are working on solving the problem” for two reasons:

  1. “We are solutioning the problem” is shorter and does not force you to link two –ing verbs. (The spoken cadence is just easier.)
  2. In a technical context indicating that you are “working on the problem” is very different from saying you are “solving the problem”. In the first case you may be developing a hypothesis, or merely collecting data but the outcome is uncertain. In the second, you have moved past the uncertain stage and are closing in on implementing the answer. We would hear “we are working on solving the problem” as the former: the solution is not yet identified, outcome uncertain.

Combined these have lead the technical community I work in to standardize on “solutioning”; it is short and clearly links to the certainty of the outcome.
(You may all now groan because engineers are notoriously poor linguists.)

share|improve this answer
If someone told me they were "solutioning the problem" I would have no idea that they meant to make any particular distinction from the idea of solving the problem. And I am also an engineer. Your near community may have developed this special meaning for "solutioning" but I don't think it has spread broadly through English speaking world or the engineering community. – The Photon Dec 7 '13 at 5:50

The word "Solutionner" exists in French and is a synonym of "résoudre", meaning solving and/or resolving. I guess the proper word in English is either one of these two last words.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Aug 15 '14 at 18:24

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.