While working in IT, it is common to refer to a quick and dirty solution to a problem as a 'Hack'.

For example, if your chair legs are uneven, a hack for this problem would be to place a piece of paper underneath one of the legs such that it compensates for the difference in length to the ground.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is also possible to Overengineer a solution and create a chair that universally accommodates uneven floors.

Would there be an elegant one syllable word that describes the latter undertaking?

I had a look around online on other websites and 'Splicing' was suggested, as it refers to the joining of strings rather than 'Hacking' them apart (Messily). Personally I think this term has already been used too much in genetics and icecreams and was hoping for an alternative.


Edit: An example of usage for such a word would probably be: - in the context of a Hackathon of some kind, one would say "This isn't a hack, it is *****" or if someone degrades your work you'd say "I'm not hacking, I'm *****ing"

or something along those lines.

  • 1
    Elegant solutions rarely have elegant one-word descriptions.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 2:41
  • That seems contrary to the concept though doesnt it?
    – Liang
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 2:42
  • 1
    Unclear: Are you trying to describe the 3-leg stool or the 7-leg chair with automatic servo adjusters?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 2:46
  • 1
    @Liang: The activity can be "creating" or even "engineering".
    – ermanen
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 3:00
  • 4
    perhaps crafting
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 3:24

4 Answers 4



Hack is a contranym. Hence, "it's a really dirty hack, but it'll do the job for now" and "Alice had a stroke of genius and came up with a beautiful hack that solved it neatly".

  • +1 IT definition of 'hack' is to make something better, and the antonym therefore is 'crack', but don't think that's what the OP is looking for?
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 3:57
  • @Christopher well, both of those senses of hack mean to make it better (even a dirty hack makes things better if the starting state is it doesn't work and the resulting state is it mostly works) but differ as to how well they do so, so its a contranym only in regards to those elements. I'm not sure I'd consider crack as an antonym since it's specific to deliberate harm and the same thing could be both a hack and a crack if it was a clever piece of work (hack) that was used maliciously (crack) though most cases of one are not cases of the other.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 4:05

If hacking refers to a quick and personalized solution (similar to jury-rigging), engineering refers to a well-researched and universal solution.

engineer: to originate, cause, or plan in a clever or devious manner TFD

Other possible terms are inventing, creating something new; and innovating, making changes on something established by introducing new ideas or products.


The opposite of a quick and dirty method that works (in terms of the best possible solution) would be:

Best practice...a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. - wikipedia

An alternate noun phrase antonym that many would regard as suitably applicable would be:

Gold standard: ...2 A model of excellence; a paragon: "Several generations of the laser have been widely available in Europe; the FDA approved the one now considered the gold standard" (Daniel Goleman). - American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

...2. the supreme example of something against which others are judged or measured: the current gold standard for breast cancer detection. - Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

source - freedictionary.com


Mashup ?

Strictly speaking the definition of mash (to join things together) is a good opposite for "hack" (to take things apart). And in the world of computers it also has a niche use somewhat like the word "hack" does. See the Wikipedia article for mashup (web application hybrid).

It also seems to be a good synonym for "splice"

a mixture or fusion of disparate elements.

Maybe it's usage is a bit too specific. I'm not positive this fits the bill as asked, but I thought I'd put it out there.

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