This happens to me a lot, but I can't seem to find the right noun for it.

In the saying "A string is useful until a rope could be found," what would you call the string? That's the noun I'm looking for.

In relationships, I don't think I want to end up being someone's _ because she couldn't find that special someone she truly wanted.

O, yes, and adjective form, too?


5 Answers 5


There are two French phrases which have become largely naturalized in English—to the extent, at least, that they are not ordinarily printed in italics:

  • pis aller, used as a nominal : literally "worst going", a stopgap or last resort

  • faute de mieux, usually adverbial but occasionally adjectival : for lack of anything better

Faute de mieux comes closer in sense to what you want, and if you took the liberty afforded by its Anglicization to employ it as a nominal only the most negligible pedants would reproach you.


The string could be called a "stop-gap measure" or a "stop-gap solution."

For example, a string would be a good stop-gap measure for stanching a bleeder, but a rope would make a better tourniquet if it's available.

In other words, a string will do "in a pinch," but when you are not constrained by time or an emergency, locating and using the right rope (or a "real" tourniquet) is a better idea.


When planning, one could have a fallback, also known as a backup or contingency plan. As for relationships, you're looking for the negative form, which may be referred to as the 'rebound' (slang), or perhaps also fallback- or goto- girl/guy.


You don't want to end up being someone's second choice. If it happens often, you will begin to feel like a second class person. This could be due to the quality of your work, which might be second rate.

A sting may suffice as an alternative to a rope.


In modern use 'adequacy' is normally a non-count noun which refers to the quality of being adequate.

He would not settle for adequacy.

However, it could also be used as a count noun to refer to the object itself, although this usage is rare/archaic.

The string was an adequacy until a rope could be found.

Although rare, I think most people would understand this usage in context.

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