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'. Jul 14, 2016 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, 2016 at 9:52
  • 1
    Are you looking for a noun?
    – anemone
    Jul 14, 2016 at 10:00
  • @Nedibes: "This person presented his ____ regarding the issue at hand".
    – pkExec
    Jul 14, 2016 at 11:30
  • @Anemone Yes i am.
    – pkExec
    Jul 14, 2016 at 11:31

3 Answers 3


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.


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).


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.


  • If I am not mistaken, troubleshooting applies only to technical problems, correct?
    – pkExec
    Jul 14, 2016 at 11:32
  • Often yes, but it is also applied for processes. I've added a remark.
    – Bookeater
    Jul 14, 2016 at 12:03

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