7

What's the most relevant idiom for something that is not the best solution and theoretically is far from the ideal. However, among the current solutions this the most appropriate and working one.

It should fit the following sentence:

Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, this method is the best available one. In fact, it can be considered as (______).

  • 9
    Your best bet? – approxiblue Aug 11 '15 at 6:13
  • Are you specifically looking for an idiot? Optimum is one word that describes exactly what you're looking for. – Davor Aug 11 '15 at 9:55
  • 1
    I think more context regarding what the method is, and what the problem is would help us to deliver a fitting idiom. – Dan Aug 11 '15 at 13:38
  • @AndyT - Choosing the best solution in a bad situation is exactly what an optimum is. The fact that a theoretically better solution exists doesn't make the currently best possible non-optimal. – Davor Aug 11 '15 at 15:43
  • I was entertained that this question was suggested to me in SE, just below another question containing this prime example of what you describe: mathoverflow.net/a/213268 – beldaz Aug 12 '15 at 2:05

20 Answers 20

14

As good as it gets, is a common saying used to refer to:

  • the best available (solution etc.) under the circumstances.

(yourdictionary.com)

  • 9
    To me, "as good as it gets" means "as good as one can possibly imagine." It's how you might describe relaxing on vacation in some beautiful place. (I'm a native speaker of AmE.) – Kevin Krumwiede Aug 11 '15 at 6:45
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    @KevinKrumwiede - As a native speaker of BrE, I can recall this phrase being used in both a positive and negative. Examples being "Wow, this theme park ride is as good as it gets!", and "50mph is as good as it gets for this make of car, I'm afraid". – AndyT Aug 11 '15 at 9:30
  • This phrase implies that something actually is the best. – Hurkyl Aug 12 '15 at 6:08
8

The most appropriate saying I can think of is

The best of a bad bunch

The implication being that all available options are bad, but this one is the best one of them. It's still bad, but the alternatives are worse.

7

If you don't want to imply that you are picking from a pool of bad options, then maybe borrowing the term satisfice from behavioural economics would be suitable. It is a portmanteau of suffice and satisfy and the concept is that when there are too many choices to search for the truly optimal choice (or in your case to wait for it to become available), people will rather choose an option that is good enough. This could be because the cost of searching for the optimal choice outweighs the benefits or because humans are often not capable of mentally finding an optimal solution to a complicated problem (without the use of a computer).

Investopedia defines satisficing as:

A decision-making strategy that aims for a satisfactory or adequate result, rather than the optimal solution. This is because aiming for the optimal solution may necessitate needless expenditure of time, energy and resources. The term "satisfice" was coined by American scientist and Noble-laureate Herbert Simon in 1956.

In your example sentence, you might even want to just use sufficient or adequate.

  • 1
    I was going to propose the same term -- in the field of information behavior (a sub-field of library science), it has the connotation that once you find something that satisfies your need, you stop looking for more, rather than doing an exhaustive search. – Joe Aug 11 '15 at 19:21
6

A case of any port in the/a storm

When you have no choice, any port in a storm refers to a solution you accept, which in normal circumstances you would find unacceptable.

"The hotel was substandard, but it was a case of any port in a storm; all the others were full."

Taking pot luck

Accept whatever is available without knowing what it will be like.

"We were so hungry we decided to take pot luck and stopped at the first restaurant we saw."

Making the best of a bad situation

To do as well as possible under conditions that are not satisfactory

"The only way to survive being jailed is to make the best of a bad situation."

4

Tallest man in the midget parade

Used when making a comparison among a group where none are outstanding.

It's certainly an idiom, though you would have to consider whether it is appropriate for your intended audience.

  • 2
    This answer has made me think of a slightly more common idiom - In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. This certainly implies that the best available solution is far from ideal (i.e. the best solution is to have two eyes). It suffers from the same problem as this answer though, in that it really doesn't fit in the OP's example sentence. – AndyT Aug 11 '15 at 13:21
4

You might consider Stopgap, since it implies that the current solution is sub-optimal, that it is the only available solution, and that it will be replaced as soon as possible, all in the same word.

someone or something that is intended to be used for a short time and then replaced by someone or something better

M-W link

2

Despite its disadvantages, this method is the best we've got.

  • 1
    Also, the best of a bad lot. – Mynamite Aug 12 '15 at 9:17
1

In some contexts you might be able to use "the lesser evil" or "the lesser of two evils"; but it must be the case that the two alternatives can be described as "bad", or hurtful to someone etc. (for you to be able to refer to them as "evils").

1

A 'pragmatic solution' or 'tactical solution'

Pragmatic as defined by the ODO:

Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Deeming the solution 'tactical'emphasises that the an important problem at hand is being solved, even if not in the 'ideal' way.

From "Coding the Architecture":

“… we just need a quick, tactical solution”

Famous words that will strike fear into a software development team! In my experience, there’s no such thing as a tactical solution? What this really means is…

“… we need something built as quickly as possible and, although we think it will have a limited lifespan, it will more than likely remain in use for some time into the future”

1

Adequate

  1. as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit (often followed by to or for): This car is adequate to our needs. adequate food for fifty people.
  2. barely sufficient or suitable: Being adequate is not good enough.
  3. Law. reasonably sufficient for starting legal action: adequate grounds.
  • This seems totally orthogonal to what the OP is asking about. – Hurkyl Aug 12 '15 at 6:09
1

The "second best" or "second best solution" sometimes mean a default non optimal choice.

For example, in economics, the theory of the second best concerns the situation when one or more optimality conditions cannot be satisfied.

1

There are two different words that may approach the concept. One is for a physical object and the other for an idea or process.

Let us look at transportation for the object solution.

"Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, the combustible engine is the best available one. In fact, it can be considered as the (_ stock_) solution for transportation.

The 2nd one for an idea or process could be:

"Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, the theory of relativity (or perhaps quantam theory) is the best available one. In fact, it can be considered as (__canon____)."

I think that "stock" for objects fits better than "canon" does for ideas, but they fit the requirement for the given sentence; though with a different weight towards the two requirements of being inferior and yet also standard.

A 3rd phrase that may apply to both and I think does carry undertones of being less than superior while also being widely accepted as the standard would be "de facto".

Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, this method is the best available one. In fact, it can be considered as (__de facto____).

0

The bronze bullet. You're welcome.

  • Not heard this before, but I like it. – Charon Aug 11 '15 at 10:35
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    @Charon (and Kieran too) - please explain how you figure. I have a guess why this term might a good suggestion but I'd like to hear from you how you reasoned. – Konrad Viltersten Aug 11 '15 at 11:40
  • @KonradViltersten - I don't think it's a valid answer, I just thought it was funny. – Charon Aug 11 '15 at 13:12
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    @Charon I suspect I didn't make myself clear. I found that answer both amusing and witty because I've made a certain interpretation as of why the bullet and why of bronze. While not an idiomatic expression accepted nor known by a majority of speakers, it still conveys the intention of the speaker. My remark was invoked by the curiosity for how you (and/or Kieran) reason. I wish to investigate whether we're thinking about the same concepts or vastly different (still arriving at the same, correct, interpretation). – Konrad Viltersten Aug 11 '15 at 13:32
  • 3
    In other words, please edit your answer to give a good explanation as to why it answers the question. – Matt E. Эллен Aug 11 '15 at 13:41
0

I would suggest "Nominal", which isn't an idiom, but it means that something "works". NASA uses it: "systems nominal" which means they aren't necessarily working the best, but that they are working well enough.

...although it doesn't mean that it is not ideal.

Of course you could also say "good enough for government work." Which means it's not good, but it'll do.

0

Least worst

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/least-worst

So it's the least worst option.

0

Hobson's Choice is the term I would use here. I'm surprised it's not been mentioned thus far.

  • Hobson's Choice is no choice at all, ie being forced to go with something for lack of alternatives. In the OP there may well be alternatives. – Mynamite Aug 12 '15 at 9:16
0

Another option you might consider is a hack. In engineering fields, particularly in computer programming, a hack is often used to mean a sub-optimal solution or quick fix that is not the best / canonical solution but works none the less.

Wiktionary defines it as

An expedient, temporary solution, meant to be replaced with a more elegant solution at a later date.

-1

Two similar idioms that convey something's the best available, but not necessarily the best possible, and don't carry too much negativity with it are:

best of/in class

A product considered to be superior within a certain category of hardware or software. It does not mean absolute best overall

best of breed

  1. denoting the most successful technology in a particular field
-2

I think the OP is looking for:

The least bad choice.

Or μὴ χεῖρον βέλτιστον. Mḕ kheíron béltiston. The least bad [choice] is the best.

It doesn't quite fit the quoted text from the initial question:

Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, this method is the best available one. In fact, it can be considered as (______).

But the sentences could be reworked to be:

Despite its disadvantages that causes it to not being the silver bullet, this method is the best available one. It is the least bad choice of the options at hand.

  • Anyone want to share their logic for the 2 down votes? – Jed Aug 12 '15 at 17:30
-2

I would suggest "the best compromise"

protected by Community Aug 11 '15 at 22:11

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