Is there a word or phrase for something that is meant to be a temporary solution to a problem, but because it gains enough momentum ends up becoming the permanent solution? Ideally the word/phrase should convey the idea that the temporary solution is less than ideal.

The closest thing that I could find was this, but it describes something that was intended to become permanent all along: is there a word for temporary-but-may-become-permanent.

As an example, while deciding on which scheduling program is the best one to use, someone throws together a spreadsheet to use in the meantime. Eventually, this occurs:

XKCD Comic; Alt-text: There was a schism in 2007, when a sect advocating OpenOffice created a fork of Sunday.xlsx and maintained it independently for several months. The efforts to reconcile the conflicting schedules led to the reinvention, within the cells of the spreadsheet, of modern version control. (Source: http://xkcd.com/1667/)

(and the scheduling program was never heard from again; except in lamentations and wistful remembrances.)

The spreadsheet would be considered a ___ solution.

  • Not sure it'd be understood well or taken in a friendly way... but perhaps in some situations you can allude to wellknown examples of such situations. The spreadsheet would be considered a "tent city" solution. Maybe???? Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 10:43

4 Answers 4


An interesting term would be "permanent temporary solution", as used in some articles, such as; NYT opinion page about refugee camps in Kenya, Public Space article on refugee camps in Palestine, etc.

You can replace "temporary solution" with single words like stopgap or other synonyms, as mentioned in another answer.

There are many things we use today that were actually meant to be temporary, but somehow ended up being used for a longer time than intended. For example: Mobile phones, wrist watches, plastic, and even the Internet! [1]

But I have never come across a single-word that is defined as "a temporary solution that ends up becoming permanent".

Find more examples on Google.

  • This version of the phrase seems to appear most frequently in the wild.
    – caleb
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 7:26

It is a permanent stopgap

stopgap, defined by Merriam-Webster

something that serves as a temporary expedient: makeshift "stopgap measures"

The new law is intended only as a stopgap.
The coach we have now was only hired as a stopgap until someone with more experience is found.

In the OP's example:

The spreadsheet became a permanent stopgap solution.


You could use entrenched derived from entrench meaning

Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely

The term is associated with the the idea of a military force being dug in and threfore difficult to remove. Your sentence would then become The spreadsheet would be considered an entrenched solution.

The less-than-ideal nature of the solution would be conveyed by comparison with entrenched forces whose positon, though strong, is inferior in many ways to proper, permanent fortifications.


permanent pilot

"The spreadsheet would be considered a permanent pilot solution."


pilot: adjective serving as an experimental or trial undertaking prior to full-scale operation or use: a pilot project. [Dictionary.com]

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