In the spirit of The Big Bang TV show titles I am looking for a word to use in a particular situation. First, there's a joke that sets up the scenario.

2 guys camping. They are barefoot by the fire. One says "I hear a bear" and starts lacing up his sneakers. The friend says, "you can't outrun a bear." The first guy says, "I know, I just need to outrun you." /end of joke.

I am home with my wife and daughter, and my teenager is getting annoying, as teens will from time to time. I wait, until my wife starts screaming. Daughter goes to her room, and I chuckled. My wife asks what's so funny. I remind her of the joke, and tell her I implemented the "Bear-Sneaker ______" in other words, no need to outwait my daughter, I just needed to last longer than my wife.

I am looking for the best word to fill in that blank. I understand the full expression won't come into usage.

  • 1
    Approach? Strategy? Logic? Jul 31, 2015 at 19:58
  • @FumbleFingers - "strategy" may be it. Thanks. Jul 31, 2015 at 19:59
  • I think the word is bazinga.
    – bib
    Jul 31, 2015 at 21:01
  • 3
    Have you thought of asking your divorce lawyer?
    – deadrat
    Jul 31, 2015 at 21:18
  • 1
    As my grandfather used to say when he was asked how long he'd been married: "Five happy years. Thirty total."
    – deadrat
    Jul 31, 2015 at 23:03

10 Answers 10


You could use the word "protocol". Then you could say you implemented the "Bear-Sneaker Protocol". Similar words would be "program" or "procedure".

Edit: Maneuver, like the Picard Maneuver.

  • +1 - this sounds a bit more scientific. Nice. / I'm a Trek fan, Maneuver looks good. Jul 31, 2015 at 20:00
  • 1
    I reminded my wife of this joke and offered her the top choices. We're going with the "Bear-Sneaker Maneuver" as she's a Trek fan as well. Aug 10, 2015 at 17:29
  • Number one, go take a number two...
    – wogsland
    Mar 22, 2017 at 21:33

I would call this the "Bear-Sneaker Stratagem". "Stratagem" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a trick or plan for deceiving an enemy or for achieving a goal". If you want a less military-sounding context, "strategy" might work as well.

A similar term is "gambit", defined by Merriam-Webster as "something done or said in order to gain an advantage or to produce a desired result".


Sounds like you're looking for ploy.

a cunning plan or action designed to turn a situation to one's own advantage

  • I like this one best. There's something about "ploy" that's down-market and hucksterish. Just right for a cheap trick. Logan, could you add an attribution for the definition in your answer, please. It would allow others to research the subject, should they wish to?
    – Margana
    Jul 31, 2015 at 23:32
  • Thanks Margana. You're right, the definition I quoted doesn't match the source; just made an edit to rectify. Jul 31, 2015 at 23:34

In the original joke, one friend sacrificed another to avoid confrontation.

The way I read your story is that both you and your wife participated in the conflict until the bear, your daughter, left the conflict location. If you had left the room so that your wife had to deal with the bear, I would say that you had, at that point, enacted the "Bear-sneaker_______".

But, you didn't leave the area first, you simply survived the attack with a little sense of humor in tact, while your wife went mental. I would say your struggle did not meet the criteria of the "Bear-sneaker ________" because it does not follow the format of the joke, based on immediately leaving the scene first because the bear attack was imminent.

So you didn't really enact the "bear-sneaker _______", but you can brag to your wife that you "survived the bear attack", meaning you were less frustrated, more patient and lived to chuckle about it. This adds a new dimension or secondary context to your newly-created inside joke between you and your lovely wife.

In the future, when you find yourself leaving the area to avoid confrontation with the bear, then you could warn your unsuspecting spouse, using the terminology, "Bear-sneaker _________" because it follows the original format of the joke.

To maintain the upbeat nature of the inside joke and to keep it light and emotionally fluffy, I would call it the 'Bear-Sneaker Scramble"

  • Wow. Interesting analysis. My view was that the guy in the joke felt "I only have to outrun you" and in our house, it wasn't that I had to have prolonged patience (to wait out my daughter's behavior) but with regard to my wife "I only need to outlast you". +1 for the depth of answer. Aug 1, 2015 at 11:59

trope noun \ˈtrōp\ –MW

b: a common or overused theme or device : cliché

Aww, not the Bear-Sneakers-Trope again...



While not a perfectly correct usage, term that seems to have the most comfortable fit might be "contingency" (i.e. short form of 'contingency plan').

"...the bear-sneaker contingency."

To me this word just feels right, though many of the other suggestions are more definitionally accurate.


I think two very good words haven't been given as answers so far.
"approach" and "strategy", as suggested by Fumble Fingers as soon as the question was posted, seem to fit perfectly, and there's nothing wrong about using a word mentioned in a comment.

  • the bear-sneaker strategy (noun) - a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal

    e.g "They are proposing a new strategy for treating the disease with a combination of medications." - MW

  • the bear-sneaker approach (noun) "The method used in dealing with or accomplishing"

    e.g. "I need someone help me find a logical approach to this problem."


I would suggest principle.

A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief.


I also like principle, since it seems to me that this is a whole approach to life, not just a tactic for the moment. But, your question doesn't make clear whether that's how you see it. Other words taking this view are philosophy, paradigm, gestalt, maybe also viewpoint.


I prefer prerogative: a right or privilege exclusive to a particular individual or class. The privilege being survival the individual or class being the marginally faster/more cunning.

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