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Is there a word that describes the condition of thinking about a problem/the solutions to a problem?

For example, when a person has a dilemma, it means he is thinking about choosing between two possible solutions to a problem. Is there a word when there are no available solutions, or more than two?

I would like to avoid words that add unnecessary characteristics to the person, such as "quandary", which from what I can find means that the person is in a state of anxiety or confusion. In my case, the person is just thinking (hard) about the problem.

In Greek, the word I am describing is "προβληματισμός", which as far as I can gather with Google Translate is not translated accurately. OK, I know I can use "problematism" (direct transcribe of the Greek word), but how many English speakers use that?

  • 'Dilemma' is a hyponym (or nowadays synonym) of 'problem' and does not mean 'the condition of thinking about a problem/the solutions to a problem'. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 14 '16 at 9:18
  • Can you add a sentence that shows how you would use the word, with a ____ where the word should go? Off the top of my head I might suggest pondering, cogitating, stumped, or stymied. – 1006a Jul 14 '16 at 9:52
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    Are you looking for a noun? – anemone Jul 14 '16 at 10:00
  • @Nedibes: "This person presented his ____ regarding the issue at hand". – pkExec Jul 14 '16 at 11:30
  • @Anemone Yes i am. – pkExec Jul 14 '16 at 11:31
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The problem could be a Conundrum:

A confusing and difficult problem or question: ‘one of the most difficult conundrums for the experts’ —Oxford Online

A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma: "the conundrum ... of achieving full employment without inflation" (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.) —The Free Dictionary

You could say:

"This person presented his conundrum (regarding the issue at hand). He had been pondering it all week, and it had him stymied."

At one time a conundrum was most commonly a type of puzzle, and it still carries connotations of something that is puzzling.

You can Google synonyms of conundrum for various other options; for example, poser is a slightly old-fashioned, less formal term for this, often in "that's a poser!" (just be clear that you're referring to a problem, not a person).

You can also "be in a conundrum" which carries more of an implication of a difficult situation rather than a purely theoretical problem.

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You evaluate a problem usually when there are no available solutions.

When solutions are available, you may then evaluate the solutions (and sometimes the problem itself).

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Perhaps the concept of troubleshooting can help you out?

discovering why something does not work effectively and making suggestions about how to improve it:
The instruction manual includes a section on troubleshooting to help you with any simple problems you might have with the TV.

It is often applied to fix failed products or processes.

References:
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/troubleshooting
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubleshooting

  • If I am not mistaken, troubleshooting applies only to technical problems, correct? – pkExec Jul 14 '16 at 11:32
  • Often yes, but it is also applied for processes. I've added a remark. – Bookeater Jul 14 '16 at 12:03

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