Looking for candidate adjectives to be used for describing an (engineering) method or procedure that is overly complicated and demanding but provides no additional benefit in return. In fact the method can be simplified or replaced with a simpler approach without much sacrifice on the output.

  • A rube goldberg contraption?
    – deadrat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 7:03
  • @deadrat I was looking into contraption. How can it be used as an adjective? Contraptious?
    – NVZ
    Apr 27, 2016 at 8:38
  • 1
    @NVZ I love contraptious, and dictionary.com gives it as the adjectival of contraption, but it doesn't seem to have much usage. Definitions of contraption do include over-complication, but a contraption can also be just a jerry-rigged and unreliable device. The attributive of Rube Goldberg appears to be Rube Goldbergian.
    – deadrat
    Apr 27, 2016 at 16:57

4 Answers 4


Since you asked for an engineering application, consider:

Over-engineeredCollins Dictionary

adj. unnecessarily complicated
"systems are unreliable, manuals are impenetrable and products are over-engineered"


Overengineering (or over-engineering) is the designing of a product to be more robust or complicated than is necessary for its application, either (charitably) to ensure sufficient factor of safety, sufficient functionality, or because of design errors. Overengineering can be desirable when safety or performance on a particular criterion is critical, or when extremely broad functionality is required, but it is generally criticized from the point of view of value engineering as wasteful. As a design philosophy, such overcomplexity is the opposite of the less is more school of thought (and hence a violation of the KISS principle and parsimony).

Also worth reading: You aren't gonna need it.


Kludgy or Kludgey, from Collins

awkward or makeshift and poorly designed

The Free Dictionary defines the noun kludge as

A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications.

A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem

TFD says that the origin of the word kludge is

Probably alteration of mid-20th century American military slang kluge, complex device with a simple function, perhaps of imitative origin or perhaps after the Kluge (paper feeder), a piece of printing equipment first manufactured in 1919 by Brandtjen & Kluge, Inc., and reputedly difficult to repair. (emphasis added)



  1. of or relating to Byzantium, the Byzantine Empire, or the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  2. (of a system or situation) excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail. "Byzantine insurance regulations"

Google Byzantine


  1. (especially of an argument, story, or sentence) extremely complex and difficult to follow. "its convoluted narrative encompasses all manner of digressions" synonyms: complicated, complex, involved, elaborate, serpentine, labyrinthine, tortuous, tangled, Byzantine; More
  2. technical intricately folded, twisted, or coiled.

Google convoluted


For software, the word we would use is bloated. It's easy to see how software gets bloated, and bureaucracy, but how does one arrive at such a situation in engineering?

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