People tend to let capability mislead priority. We refer to this as "a solution in search of a problem". If your job is to point these out to people, it would be nice to do so with a single word.

Any ideas ?

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure there IS NO single-word, for that idiom. As WBT pointed out, "a hammer in search of a nail" is a similar idiom. – Fattie Jun 4 '15 at 5:31
  • 2
    What's wrong with more than one word? – Mitch Jun 4 '15 at 14:48
  • It's such a useful concept, it just seems like something that should have its own word. Do any other languages have a word for this? – WBT Jun 6 '15 at 12:55
  • I think 'solution in search of a problem' is probably the best phrase to use. It's well recognised. – dwjohnston Feb 11 '16 at 22:33

I usually refer to (and hear others refer to) such solutions as a hammer in reference to Maslow's Hammer and various sayings to the effect of, "if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." (Meaning: One who has some tool or solution will tend to see problems as those that can be addressed by that tool/solution, even if that really isn't the right one for that problem.)

Effective use of the term requires the recipient to be already familiar with the concept/proverb, and a context where it's clear that you're not referring to any literal hammer.


Google defines the adjective opportunistic as exploiting chances offered by immediate circumstances without reference to a general plan or moral principle.

While the Free Dictionary describes one who behaves in such a way as an opportunist defined as a person who takes advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end, often with no regard for principles or consequences.


I am not aware of a single word meaning a 'solution in search of a problem'.

You might, however, say that the process is counter-intuitive, or contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation.

Source: ODO

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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