Say you have a problem to solve. It might be a complex one with lots of scenarios to be considered. For simplicity you start by only considering the simplest scenarios that comes to mind and make a solution based on that. You're aware that this solution won't work all the time and the idea is to address further problems as they arise, but this first solution might also be good enough.

Is there a commonly used word to describe this kind of solution?

Let's find the X solution and go on from there!

Some ideas are "naive" and "trivial" but I get the feeling they have a negative connotation. The word I'm looking for should indicate an intentional simplicity with the understanding that it might not be the final solution.

Update: I see my question was a bit unspecific. The problem was meant to be a design problem for a feature to be created. This x solution might need to be modified but might also be enough.

Many answers are about unexpected problem. Although they are not what I need I'm still learning a lot from them.

  • Are you just after an adjective to modify solution? If so, you may want to look up synonyms for temporary or preliminary and see what might suit; if nothing does, come back and tell us what you found and why those options aren't quite right. On the other hand, if you want a noun that encompasses the whole concept you may want to clarify that (and also whether multi-word phrases would be acceptable).
    – 1006a
    Feb 12, 2018 at 5:46
  • Do you mean native or naive in your 4th paragraph (try Googling algorithm "naive approach" for example uses).
    – Chris H
    Feb 12, 2018 at 10:40
  • 1
    @ChrisH I meant naive, corrected the question. I've had people react negatively on the word naive which is the sole reason for this question.
    – hultqvist
    Feb 12, 2018 at 15:33
  • 1
    I suspect that within academic and similar circles, naive is fine, but I can see how it could be taken badly. You may have to be a little careful: I see a difference between giving an impression that you mean "Jones's approach is naive... we can do better" and "Our naive approach modelled after Jones's can be used as a baseline to assess more complete solutions"
    – Chris H
    Feb 12, 2018 at 15:46

10 Answers 10


It's a noun, but can probably be used attributively in most cases: stopgap.

stopgap NOUN

A temporary way of dealing with a problem or satisfying a need.

‘transplants are only a stopgap until more sophisticated alternatives can work’


  • From what i found it's for unexpected problems. I haven't heard about this word before. From a quick search it only appears in dictionaries and marketing.
    – hultqvist
    Feb 11, 2018 at 12:02
  • 1
    No, it's a lot more common than that. And it's used for newly encountered problems, whether or not they were predictable / predicted. Feb 11, 2018 at 16:01
  • @hultqvist: It's completely commonplace in casual language. Feb 12, 2018 at 0:14
  • Stopgap can be used as a verb. Dec 9, 2020 at 18:28
  • A verb? There's the now ancient mantra 'You can verb any noun', but it's not accurate. Productivity is gradeable. Cryptozoology is not used as a verb by enough people to consider this an accepted usage. Have you an authority fot the conversion to the verb? Dec 9, 2020 at 18:54

A provisional solution is current usage.

  • provisional (adjective) - serving for the time being, existing or accepted for the present time but likely to be changed - MW

1."...welcomes the fact that the Agri-Fish Council meeting on 14 November 2011 resulted in a provisional solution for maintaining the food aid programme."

2."The lesson to be learnt from London's case is, therefore, never to let a provisional solution become a permanent one."

3."But it can be that recourse to the reasonable only gives a provisional solution, waiting for the elaboration of new legal construction which would be more satisfying."

4. "interpretation is very good provided it is just taken as a provisional solution, useful until the true, final, solution is found."

Not a better choice than "provisional", A temporary solution also comes to mind.

  • temporary (adjective) lasting, used, serving, or enjoyed for a limited time. - TFD

I’d use the term tentative:

​(of a plan or idea) not certain or agreed, or (of a suggestion or action) said or done in a careful but uncertain way because you do not know if you are right:

  • I have tentative plans to take a trip to Seattle in July.

(Cambridge Dictionary)


I'd call it a hack (or a hacky solution, as an adjective):

A temporary, jury-rigged solution, especially in the fields of computer programming and engineering: the technical equivalent of chewing gum and duct tape.
Urban Dictionary

  • I would use the work hack when making a workaround or fix to a weird problem(though never directly to the customer). My question is more about making a first version that ignores the weird corner cases in the hope that they aren't relevant.
    – hultqvist
    Feb 11, 2018 at 15:36
  • @hultqvist: Yes, my team would also call that a hack. Feb 12, 2018 at 0:14

I’d call it a ‘temporary fix’. This means, the solution fixes the problem for the time being, but you know you’ll need to sort it out properly at a later date.

Example: ‘as a temporary fix I stuck chewing gum in the hole in my bike tyre, just to get me home...’


I think you can't really go wrong with simple i.e. easily understood or done

or basic i.e. forming an essential foundation or starting point

But then I love plain language.

Based on your comment -

This x solution might need to be modified but might also be enough.

In computing, and idiomatically, this is kind of approach is often referred to as Brute Force i.e. Trying the easiest thing first, if it doesn't work you try the next, and so on.

For example a brute force search is...

a very general problem-solving technique that consists of systematically enumerating all possible candidates for the solution and checking whether each candidate satisfies the problem's statement.




Defn: Involving or limited to basic principles / relating to an immature, undeveloped, or basic form.

'Let's find the rudimentary solution and go on from there!'

  • 3
    Only 10000 Google hits for "rudimentary solution", and just over 100 for "the rudimentary solution". Unidiomatic. Feb 11, 2018 at 9:41
  • Rudimentary does fit my description but the word itself sounds a bit advanced. I looked up synonyms to rudimentary and found among others "basic, early, initial, first" would some of these still convey the message?
    – hultqvist
    Feb 11, 2018 at 9:42
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth agreed, 'a rudimentary solution' would be better. What about elementary?
    – GGx
    Feb 11, 2018 at 10:00
  • @EdwinAshworth Would you open a private chat line with me please? I'll check back here regularly for the next hour. It's something personal, but relatively small and you're the perfect person for it. Feb 11, 2018 at 10:13
  • @Ross Murray I'm not when I'm not here :) And I only get moved to 'chat', so don't know the mechanics. Feb 11, 2018 at 16:04

Can I suggest: 'Bodge'

Some definitions have it as just doing something badly, but some mention temporary repair, like this one from Wiktionary:

(Britain) To do a clumsy or inelegant job, usually as a temporary repair; mend, patch up, repair.

Certainly, that is the sense I have always had of it.


A first attempt and temporary way to solve an issue without really fixing it permanently may be called a "workaround".


One term that might describe this approach in certain circumstances is iterative development.

One definition of this from Primer on DevOps roles and responsibilities is:

Iterative development is a way of breaking down the software development of a large application into smaller chunks. In iterative development, feature code is designed, developed and tested in repeated cycles. With each iteration, additional features can be designed, developed and tested until there is a fully functional software application ready to be deployed to customers.

This definition suggests that each iteration only adds features. However in the usage with which I am familiar, there is the idea of error correction at each iteration, and this is consistent with the usage given in the Wikipedia entry, illustrated by the diagram below.

Iterative software development

  • In view of the rather suprising downvote of my answer (after an initial upvote) I have added a diagram illustrating the wider use of the term iterative approach to justify its relevance here.
    – David
    Feb 12, 2018 at 14:37

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