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81

Around my office, such a problem is called a Heisenbug, a pun on the name of the great physicist Werner Heisenberg, who first described the observer effect (the rule that observing any phenomenon will change it) and the uncertainty principle (the rule that you can know either where something is or how fast it is going, but not both). The frustrating thing ...


39

I would call it an "elusive" problem. elusive adjective: 1: tending to evade grasp or pursuit 2: hard to comprehend or define 3: hard to isolate or identify (Merriam-Webster online)


36

An intermittent problem. stopping or ceasing for a time; alternately ceasing and beginning again. TFD starting, stopping, and starting again : not constant or steady. MW e.g. "My new car has been having an intermittent battery problem." "The forecast is for intermittent rain." "The patient was having intermittent pains."


31

Sounds like a gremlin An imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained problem or fault, especially a mechanical or electronic one: a gremlin in my computer omitted a line Oxford Dictionaries Online For a longer discussion, see this article in Wikipedia Also, there is a wonderful dramatization of the gremlin effect in ...


23

I happen to like Repairman's Syndrome, where the presence of someone in the know makes the thing work.


15

A Singing Frog I call this a "singing frog," and apparently I'm not the only one. The name comes from an old cartoon about a man who finds a frog which sings and dances, but not when anybody else is watching.


13

The OED does mention the nautical sense of 'way' at 7i (italics mine): Naut. Progress (of a ship or boat) through the water; rate of progress, velocity; impetus gained by a vessel in motion. A speculative see-also under the definition reads Cf. under way at sense 38a (38), from which this sense was perh. evolved. intimating that the nautical ...


11

Not an exact match to the definition posed in the question, but it is closely related: When you are using a device or system and it malfunctions, and then you try to cause that malfunction again to show someone, but it does not malfunction this time, you would say the malfunction is not reproducible. "not reproducible" does not necessarily mean the ...


6

It is an old bugaboo of the grammar police that in any pairing of an adjective with its -ly-suffixed adverb -- safe, safely; slow, slowly -- the (nominal) adjective must never be used as an adverb. You may ignore this prescription. As the OED quaintly puts the case for "safe": "Chiefly (now only) with quasi-advb force with verbs of coming, going, bringing, ...


5

"Out of wedlock" is an idiom and, as WS2 mentioned, it's an outdated expression but still used by some very conservative people. A child born "out of wedlock" is a child conceived and born to a woman who was not married from conception to the moment of birth, or a child conceived and born during a marriage but not the product of that marriage. The way you ...


5

The phrase 'hidden in plain sight' comes close, in terms of the method of obfuscation, but does not really communicate the accidental location. Still, it may be of some use. Adjective (not comparable) That [which] seems to be hidden, but actually is not hidden and is easy to be found www.yourdictionary.com


5

This is a well-known quote from Muriel Spark's novel about a teacher in a private girls school in Scotland, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: "For those who like that sort of thing," said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, "That is the sort of thing they like." (The character is talking about the Girl Guides, an organization similar to the Girl ...


4

Eric Partridge, Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, fifth edition (1961) has this relevant entry for puff: puff. ... 4. Life ; existence : tailors' [slang] (low ) gen[eral use] : from ca. 1880. As in never in one's puff, never, and as in 'Pomes' Marshall, 'He's the winner right enough! It's the one sole snip of a lifetime—simply the cop of ...


4

In British English the correct usage is to use the adverbial form to modify a verb. If someone wrote “we drove safe from London to Edinburgh” I would edit it to “safely”, first making sure that they had not stolen a safe and mistakenly omitted the definite article. No doubt there are those who would argue hotly (argue hot? Don't make me laugh!) that this ...


4

The first thing that comes to mind is: Whack-a-Mole whack-a-mole ˈwakəˌmōl/ noun NORTH AMERICAN an arcade game in which players use a mallet to hit toy moles, which appear at random, back into their holes. "next time you are near a kiddie amusement park, go in and play a round of whack-a-mole" used with reference to a ...


4

"Mechanic's effect" is the only term I've ever for the behavior you describe. Oddly enough, a quick search didn't find any hits other one over at "what's the word".


4

'From soup to nuts' in reference books Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1997) has this entry for "from soup to nuts": from soup to nuts Also from A to Z or start to finish or stem to stern. From beginning to end, throughout, [examples omitted]. The first expression, with its analogy to the first and lasy courses of a meal, ...


4

The term adverbial is a bane to the principled study of language. It is the epitome of the worst problem in the field of language study - a problem which should by now be regarded as a schoolkid problem - the problem of not understanding the difference between syntactic functions (or grammatical relations) and parts of speech or types of phrase. For a few ...


4

To whom am I speaking? With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking? Who's calling, please? If the call is for someone else: Who may I say is calling?


4

The "higher" the programming language, the less likely it is to provide means for the programmer to move individual bits around; the "lower" the programming language, the less likely it is to have conveniences such as built-in memory allocation. I doubt there's a word that means "to label something, in a particular domain of endeavor, in a manner that ...


4

In the actual laptop situation you describe, sometimes "realised" (or "finally realised") makes more sense. You also have "finally noticed". It's a little clearer than "discovered" which doesn't quite fit. (It's kind of the opposite of a long quest with a discovery at the end ... you know?) As you already said, "right under his nose this whole time" of ...


3

I've heard a problem like this referred to as "shy," particularly in the case of technical support. A "shy" bug is one that never shows up when the tech is on-site, only to reappear as soon as he or she leaves.


3

It can be very dangerous to cycle in the night. This indicates that there are certain circumstances that make it dangerous, e.g. It can be very dangerous to cycle in the night, for example: if you are cycling without any lights, if you are cycling through a rough area, if you are cycling after a night at the pub. It may be very dangerous to cycle ...


3

"Folding in" means incorporating the change. It is used when the speaker wants the idea integrated into the existing product, rather than simply being tacked on. There are many potential etymologies, but the one which makes the most sense t me is one from cooking. When making a dessert such as a mousse, you often rely on beaten egg whites to provide the ...


3

The word "waltz" most definitely has two meanings. A "waltz" is a particular type of music usually with 3/4 time and the dance that's done along to it: A waltz (German: Walzer; French: Valse, Italian: Valzer, Spanish: Vals, Polish: Walc), probably deriving from German Ländler, is dance music in triple meter, and if written, often written in time ...


3

Been is the past participle of Be so I've never been is as grammatical as I'm not. The object is omitted as it is understood from context. Q: "Are you in France now?" A: "No, I'm not, and I've never been." Q: "Are you tall?" A: "No, I'm not, and I've never been." In the most technical sense, I'm not sure whether omitting the object of a to be verb can be ...


3

They call it akrobatisch aus, und mit viel Humor I'd call it a 'bravura' performance. Definition of bravura in English (Oxford) noun [mass noun] 1Great technical skill and brilliance shown in a performance or activity:


3

The first could be correct if for means because, but it needs a comma. I am happy, for [because] you are improving. The second is also correct - it has a subtly different meaning but they are essentially the same.


3

It means a large number of customers trying to withdraw their deposits in a short period of time. The bank only holds enough cash to allow a small percentage of all deposits to be withdrawn. So if the run is big enough, the bank's cash is exhausted and they have to close, at least for a short time.


3

"Transparent" is used in several senses. The most literal sense is Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material. Ie, a piece of regular glass is "transparent". The common figurative sense is quite the opposite: easily understood; manifest; obvious. If one were to take literally the sentence ...



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