I need a word or phrase that refers to an idea that was meticulously crafted, but which was, in reality, an obviously stupid idea. Not because the person was unaware of some key facts, but because they simply didn't think the idea through.

I need it to sum up incidents like this in a story I am writing:

A company I used to work for decided to "go green" by implementing some energy-saving measures. All employees were told to turn in their old power strips in exchange for "smart" ones that had a motion sensor attachment. They even made a big event out of it, calling it watt-stomping or some such nonsense. They probably got a bulk discount on the 1,000 of them they ordered, but I'm sure they were pretty expensive despite.

The problem with these things is that the motion sensor turns the whole strip off when it doesn't detect movement after some length of time. Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?

But if you stop and think about it for even a few moments, it's obvious that this is stupid for an office environment. What exactly are you supposed to plug into this thing? You can't plug your computer into it -- unless pulling the power plug is your screen saver. Monitors would be OK, but they shut off on their own anyway. Laser printers actually cost more energy to be constantly power cycled than it does to just leave them on all the time. Space heaters can't be plugged into power strips because it's a fire code thing. What's left? Little radios and desk lamps are all I can think of. Way to save power there.

The idea was quickly (and rightfully) abandoned after peoples' computers began shutting off without saving their data. Regular power strips started showing up in the office again, but coming across a spare was like finding gold for a while there.

  • 2
    Sounds like that was a total brainfart.
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 4:00

7 Answers 7


You didn’t mention the dire consequences that would have resulted from plugging coffee pots or microwave/toaster ovens to such a power strip, but as someone who doesn’t like cold coffee or frozen mac & cheese, I’d call this a “half-baked” idea, in literally every sense of the word.

Definition of HALF–BAKED (M-W)

  1. a. poorly developed or carried out 'a half–baked idea' 'half–baked research'
    b. lacking adequate planning or forethought 'a half–baked scheme for getting rich'
    c. lacking in judgment, intelligence, or common sense

  2. imperfectly baked : underdone


That idea is perhaps quixotic.


quixotic ADJECTIVE

Extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical:
‘a vast and perhaps quixotic project’

  • 1
    I doubt one person in 50 would even know that word in a regular "office" environment.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 16:28

How about misfire or backfire?


misfire: (especially of a plan) fail to produce the intended result

backfire: (of a plan or action) have an opposite and undesirable effect to what was intended

Misfires and backfires generally occur when people don't think things through.


How about foolhardy?

: recklessly bold or rash [Merriam-Webster's]

"A foolhardy mission"


I would suggest “myopic”, except that it is more about a character flaw; using it would connote that the party [person or people] which dreamed up and implemented the idea (of the power boards) was generally incompetent. …Unless of course you want to be mildly insulting. Another problem is that you would probably say “myopic management” or “myopic planning”; I am thinking that “myopic idea” is not outright wrong, but is somewhat contrived [awkward].

I know it does not yield “one word”, but one way of rendering terms like this is using “false ~” or “putative ~”. Thus, for instance, you might say “false genius” or “putative environmental warrior”. (The archetypal example of “false ~” is “false belief” — being a belief that is true, to its subject, but actually false — such as believing that one is on time for church, when actually daylight saving just finished. “Putative” is about [believing in the sense of] thinking; the scenario you describe is is good example (notwithstanding the lack of “consideration”-type thinking).) These terms do not connote insult.

So… I would probably go with something like “putatively sound idea” or “putatively “green” measure”.


Ill conceived - not carefully planned or concidered.


Or my personal favorite:

Sis·y·phe·an /ˌsisəˈfēən/
Denoting or relating to a task that can never be completed.
"the pursuit of perfection is a Sisyphean task"

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