I thought there was a word for this. Where you take a basic problem that exists and the best solution already exists and any effort we put into solving the problem would actually cause more work for us thus becoming a bigger problem.


7 Answers 7


The phrase I use is "the cure is worse than the disease". I can't think of a single word that is in general use for that.

  • The word is iatrogenesis. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 5:14

It's not a single word, but I believe the phrase you are looking for is:

reinventing the wheel

One definition can be found in this online dictionary, and there is a Wikipedia article on the phrase as well.

  • 3
    Reinventing the wheel has no connotations of "the solution to the problem is more complicated than the problem" (it just means doing something that's already been done). But then again that's the question's title and not the body, so it's not clear what the OP is asking and it's a mystery so many people have answered. :-) Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 7:12
  • 1
    @ShreevatsaR Very true. I've tried to edit the title/question to be more concise, but I couldn't come up with anything that I was sure accurately represented what the OP wanted to ask, and I wanted to avoid rewriting it to basically ask for my answer.
    – yoozer8
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 13:10

You could describe the situation as "(potentially) Goldbergian".

Rube Goldberg (noun)
1. having a fantastically complicated, improvised appearance: a Rube Goldberg arrangement of flasks and test tubes.
2. deviously complex and impractical: a Rube Goldberg scheme for reducing taxes.

  • The more apropos word for menacing complexity is kafkaesque or labyrinth. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 18:54
  • Goldbergian, love it!
    – sgargan
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 16:51

Building a better mousetrap

The mousetraps we have are cheap, effective, and very simple, yet people are always trying to invent a new one.


I've only heard people use "This adds an unnecessary level of complexity" which is what I think you're getting at, but I've never seen a single word for this.


Consider using 'compound' (in the sense of 'to increase').

For example:

That approach would only compound our difficulties!


Maybe related: boondoggle, make-work.


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