What are different things that can be solved?

For the purposes of responding to a complaint "I can't solve this!" with the intent: "That's because it's not a(n) ______".

Words considered so far:

  1. Problem
  2. Equation
  3. Puzzle

Specifically the response should convey comfort to the complainant. "You cannot solve this because this is not really a problem, so don't worry about it." None of the words I've considered seem to convey that tone without seeming improper. I want to diminish the validity of the complaint without implying the complainant is irrational for bringing this to me.

  • 1
    because its a feature (Microsoft) :P – Nikita Shrivastava Oct 9 '15 at 4:20
  • 1
    What is the context? – Nikita Shrivastava Oct 9 '15 at 4:25
  • p1: "I'm am feeling anxiety about this thing, I wish I could solve it but I cannot! The inability to solve it causes me further anxiety!" p2: "The reason you cannot solve it is that it is not a thing can can be solved so you should not feel anxiety because you are unable to solve it." – Peter Vandivier Oct 9 '15 at 4:30
  • Wouldn't it be better to state a reason for "why it isn't a problem" to comfort p1?? – Nikita Shrivastava Oct 9 '15 at 4:50
  • Indeed it would. And I fully intend to. I like to present a thesis before supporting evidence though. XP – Peter Vandivier Oct 9 '15 at 5:01

If you don't like "because it's not a problem", then the most idiomatic thing to say would be "because this is not something that needs to be solved".

These are your options, really. That's what actual people actually say. Everything else is a theoretical exercise in futility.

There simply is no hypernym for everything you can solve. Just like there is no hypernym for everything you can drive, or everything you can eat, or everything you can fly, or everything you can dry, or everything you can hang up. We just don't have that. No point in shoehorning inexistent things into impossible structures. Just say what people say, and be done.


Problem in its broad sense covers all necessary contingencies to be the object of a solution.

(ODO) problem

  1. A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome
  2. Physics & Mathematics An inquiry starting from given conditions to investigate or demonstrate a fact, result, or law.

(TFD) problem

  • a state of difficulty that needs to be resolved; "she and her husband are having problems"; "it is always a job to contact him"; "urban problems such as traffic congestion and smog"
  • a question raised for consideration or solution; "our homework consisted of ten problems to solve"
  • a source of difficulty; "one trouble after another delayed the job"; "what's the problem?"

(Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.)

Anything that needs solved, resolved, overcome, alleviated, or dealt with, in general, is a "problem," it turns out :)


Perhaps: not a well-defined problem? If a problem/task/question is well-defined, then you don't have many excuses :). A slippery problem, a moving target?

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