28

I know it isn't "longcut", although the term is used sometimes, humorously.

How do I correct someone who believes a way to be the shortest route when it is in fact

  • a longer route, or
  • the longest route.

It's not a shortcut, it's a ______ (preferably single word)

Please note that I'm not looking for a way to paraphrase this. It's just an example sentence. I'm looking for a word that specifically serves as an antonym to shortcut, in this sense and others.


EDIT: Dan's comment below: "I'm struggling to find reasons why one would want longer-than-normal routes. The 'antonym' doesn't seem to make sense", calls for an edit.

Let's say there are two paths: One shortcut and the other, for the lack of a better term, longcut.

You might wish to take the longcut if:

  1. Someone you like is in the passenger seat and you want it to last as long as possible.
  2. As Mary pointed out, the shortcut might require you to drive on a hellish road.
  3. You're a cab driver and want to extract the maximum fare. (It's based on distance travelled here in India.)
  4. The shortcut is shorter in distance but might take longer to navigate: traffic jams, accidents... any number of reasons.
  5. You feel like it.
  • 12
    "detour"? "Scenic Route"? In your example sentence, I'd probably say "it's not a shortcut, it's actually longer" or "a longer way around" or something like that. – Hellion May 6 '15 at 17:49
  • 9
    Yeah, "scenic route" is idiomatic. – Hot Licks May 6 '15 at 17:50
  • 4
    @Dan: Ever driven the girl of your dreams home? – Tushar Raj May 7 '15 at 5:48
  • 2
    ... "longpaste" – John Berryman May 8 '15 at 4:12
  • 2
    @JohnBerryman: I know you're being funny, but that's a seriously good answer. I often use the term myself. We use shortcut for a way that is cut shorter, but it can't be cut longer, can it? Longcut doesn't make sense. All hail the longpaste. – Tushar Raj May 8 '15 at 4:27

12 Answers 12

35

| It's not a shortcut, it's circuitous. → adjective, paraphrase
| It's not a shortcut, it's a diversion. → not a direct path
| It's not a shortcut, it's a long shot. → not a safe bet, two words
| It's not a shortcut, it's a dead link. → bad web bookmark, two words

Hellion's suggestion of detour is an excellent choice as well, although his other suggestion scenic route appears to be the popular choice. I don't think scenic route is a good choice for the sample sentence, it seems overly redundant. But it works great in other contexts, like: I'm enjoying our conversation, so let's take the scenic route.


I believe in the context of your use case, you can use circuitous, or one of its synonyms (which include indirect, circular, or roundabout), as in:

| It's not a shortcut, it's circuitous.

: not straight, short, and direct
Merriam-Webster online


For a noun word, you can use diversion.

The connotation is not quite opposite of shortcut, but it will imply the path is not direct.

: the act of changing the direction or use of something : the act of diverting something
Merriam-Webster online


When the word shortcut is used to indicate a relatively safe path, as in "a shortcut to success", a word with a nice ring for opposing it would be long shot.

: an attempt or effort that is not likely to be successful
Merriam-Webster online


Finally, in the use of shortcut in the context of a web browser bookmark, the only opposing sense I can think of is a dead link.

A dead link is a link on the world wide web that points to a webpage or server that is permanently unavailable.
Urban Dictionary

Well, I have further reflected upon stale link (the link no longer points to what it originally pointed to). A little more whimsical would be to use the word breadcrumb:

| It's not a shortcut, it's a breadcrumb.

This would imply the web link merely takes you to a starting point to find the true thing of interest, rather than taking you directly to the thing of interest. However, it is kind of an abuse of the term, since in computer jargon, it refers to the collection of "back links" that the browser tracks for you so that you can back your way out to your starting point.

  • Thanks for answering, but like I said, I'm not looking for a way to paraphrase (good word, though, if I was). Circuitous is an adjective, and can't serve as an antonym of the noun shortcut – Tushar Raj May 6 '15 at 19:02
  • 2
    Yes. Helion's suggestion works well, or you can go with hyperbole, like expedition or pilgrimage. – jxh May 6 '15 at 19:05
  • Niiice! It's a pilgrimage sounds good. Still not an antonym, sorry :( – Tushar Raj May 6 '15 at 19:07
  • 2
    Along the same lines, you can go with maze/labyrinth or quagmire. The word diversion can be used in most other contexts, except for the bookmark thing, which I might try to use firewall, since it's a techie thing. – jxh May 6 '15 at 20:00
  • All good choices. Upvote for the persistence and the follow-through :) – Tushar Raj May 6 '15 at 20:01
47

Depending on the context, "Scenic route" could serve as an antonym.

  • Could you say anything about the article? A scenic route sounds wrong. Must I always say the scenic route? Because if so, this isn't acceptable in all cases you'd need an antonym for shortcut – Tushar Raj May 8 '15 at 18:39
  • 1
    You can use the indefinite article to allude to the idiom, "taking the scenic route", but the idiom itself uses the definite article. Anyone who knows this idiom will know what you mean when you say "a scenic route" - in fact, you might even need clarification if you want it to mean "a route through ample scenery" instead of "a long route". – talrnu May 8 '15 at 20:03
  • It would be perfectly fine to say "The most direct route is the expressway, but we'll take a scenic route." – Hot Licks May 10 '15 at 12:24
  • I agree that scenic route is an opposite, but it was redundantly so (it just means not a shortcut). The answer also did not provide which contexts for which it would be suitable. – jxh May 10 '15 at 16:05
24

I don’t believe there is a single word in common use. The most common term I know of is long way or long way around.

I have heard (and used) longcut in jest. Wiktionary indicates that longcut may be in use, but there is a divide as to how it’s used: it indicates either the opposite of a shortcut, or a route that was supposed to be a shortcut but in fact turned out to be longer. Urban Dictionary corroborates this.

  • The first usage of the phrase "Long Cut" (in the two word form) was in an Uncle Tupelo song, "The Long Cut" which dates back to 1993. Here is a link to the lyrics: songmeanings.com/songs/view/97883 – Tony Adams May 8 '15 at 16:16
20

The thing about the word "shortcut" is that the word is positive. "We don't have to go that way, there is a shortcut" There is no similar opposite word because to remain positive one would need to understand why the other way is chosen.

So we have two possible opposites. If the other way just wastes time, it is referred to as "roundabout". This implies that any way but the shortcut way is not perfect, so you would have the one shortcut way and all the other roundabout ways.

The other word is "proper" This means that there is something wrong with the shortcut, and there is a benefit to the other way. "Using the calculator is a shortcut, do the math problems the proper way"

  • 1
    Neither of these is a noun though, and the question asks for an antonym. – nekomatic May 7 '15 at 9:59
  • On second thought, why do you think a positive word has to have a positive antonym. The very definition of antonym is against it. Good/bad; beautiful/ugly; rich/poor. – Tushar Raj May 8 '15 at 18:37
  • 2
    You already know that the word is not always positive. (Consider the headline "Shortcuts to Blame for Construction Accident at Asphalt Green".) So, I wonder why you open with that claim. Anyway, the OP identified the relevant use-case (correcting someone as to the length of a route), so why not focus on that, instead of intrinsic properties of the word in isolation? – Frank May 9 '15 at 3:53
15

I would say: "It is not a shortcut, it is a detour."

Detour - Noun

A long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way

Verb, Chiefly North American

A long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way.

Origin:

Mid 18th century (as a noun): from French détour 'change of direction', from détourner 'turn away'

  • it can't be detour - I see detour as being like a shortcut - a detour to here or "I got here quicker, rather than taking the long way round, I took the detour". – user120719 May 6 '15 at 20:06
  • 1
    +1 But the answer could be improved with a source. Detour - noun - a long or roundabout route taken to avoid something or to visit somewhere along the way. – Lumberjack May 6 '15 at 20:40
  • @NaBob, you must be misunderstanding the word. A «détour», in the original French, is when you leave the main path to follow another one. French Canadians say «s'écarter», which has the same meaning as «se détourner». In England, some would say "roundabout" rather than "detour" because using French words is "posh" and "educated" and some people find it pretentious (to be educated). But at any rate, the simplest answer is just "the long way." – PatrickT May 8 '15 at 17:21
  • Etymology is interesting, but English meaning is all we care about here. The English meaning of detour doesn't require the destination of the detour to have anything to do with the original journey's destination. In fact, a detour might lead to cancelling the original journey altogether. Or a detour might return you to the point you left your original journey's path from, resulting in no effective change in your path. In short, a detour has nothing to do with a shortcut, much less its opposite - it just might have a similar effect to the opposite of a shortcut. – talrnu May 8 '15 at 20:12
  • I think detour is the perfect word. Taking a shortcut avoids part of the regular route in favour of a more direct path, while taking a detour avoids the regular route by adding an additional part to it, either because one wants to see something else off the path or because part of the original route is not possible to take. – Chellspecker May 12 '15 at 23:37
4

You can use byway and bypath figuratively.

bypath: an unfrequented path; an indirect route; a byway [Wiktionary]

A relevant example from OED:

The by-ways and short-cuts to wealth.

D. Jerrold's The Chronicles of Clovernook, 1846

Note: I was going to suggest bypass also but it is tricky. It can be a longer route but it takes shorter time.


I'm going to suggest circumbendibus as a bonus word. It is a humorous formation from circum- (prefix) + bend (n.), with the ending of a Latin ablative plural.

(often humorous) A roundabout route or process [Wiktionary]

3

In cooking a cook can take many shortcuts, for example there's: par-baked (parbaked) loaves, ready-made custard, ready-cooked pizzas, instant coffee, and even pre-washed, pre-sliced apples sealed in mini plastic bags. Their opposites would be

  • making it the old-fashioned way
  • cooking from scratch
  • doing it old-school

As for taking short-cuts in driving the only expressions I can think of which haven't already been suggested in "answers" are:

  • the old way
  • let's take the normal road
2

The hard way. To add to the answers already given.

1

How about digression? One argument for it is that it keeps the word a noun.

  • 1
    Hello, and welcome to English Language & Usage. I think that your suggestion has merit, but the answer would be stronger if you included a definition from a reference work or a brief comment explaining why digression might be suitable as an antonym for short cut. – Sven Yargs May 6 '15 at 23:00
1

I would say: "It's not a shortcut, it's the long way".

1

I would recommend usage of the word meander or meandrous

It refers to a winding or indirect course. Typically, a river meanders, and your journey through thick woods will tend to be meandrous.

0

As an extension to user1008646's answer you could say

This isn't a short cut, it's the long way round.

Another (British English) example, which, admittedly, doesn't fit the OP's request for a single word answer, is

This isn't a short cut, you taken me all round the houses.

or

This isn't a short cut, you taken me all around the houses.

Note: I am sure many people will say that the expression all round the houses means to pussyfoot around an issue. I agree but, it is definitely also used to mean a tortuous (physical) route to get to a destination:

We went all round the houses to get here, when should have just taken the main road

protected by Matt E. Эллен May 7 '15 at 12:46

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