The title doesn't really describe the word I'm looking for very well. I think it is a bit hard to neatly describe it, so I'll give an example of a behavior that would be described with such a word.

Aliens crash land on Earth. It was completely coincidental, they had no interest in Earth, but somehow crash landed there in their travels. It will take about a week to fix their vessel, and they begin immediately. But the whole crew isn't needed or even usable for the fixing, so, they are used for research on the planet and species living on it. Science and enlightenment is not the reason for their visit, but they chose to do it, because they think they might as well, considering it doesn't impede how quickly they get home, and only plentiful resources are spent on it.

What kind of mentality is this? Basically making the best of the situation, but not in a way of accepting a bad situation and coping with it; rather fixing the situation, but accepting it will take some time, and therefore utilizing that time to make the most of it. I guess you could call it that. Making the most of the good sides with a bad situation. Not that they are that good sides. These aliens are used to other lifeforms, and therefore humans are... mediocre compared.

So, is there a word for this kind of mentality? It can be an adjective, a noun, a phrase/idiom or even a verb.

EDIT: A user wrote an idiom that fits pretty well: "To make the best out of a bad deal". It is basically that, but I'm looking for something more succinct, and perhaps less negatively charged.


4 Answers 4


(I've just realized it's a single word request, so the last suggestion here is the only valid one. I'll leave in the rest just in case)

A little bit stronger than 'make the most of' would be

  1. to turn it (the situation) to their advantage/benefit.

To deal with something in a way that lead's to one's ultimate benefit or advantage. The personal pronoun before "advantage" can be omitted.
Many savvy investors turned the economic crash to their benefit by buying up huge amounts of cheap property in prime locations around the world and waiting for their value to climb back up to their previous levels.
I know it looks like a raw deal, but let's see if we can find a way to turn it to advantage.

  1. A related way of saying it in your context would be:

They took advantage of the opportunity to do some scientific experiments on the inhabitants.

or 3.

They capitalized on the opportunity.

 verb (used without object), cap·i·tal·ized, cap·i·tal·iz·ing.
 to take advantage of; turn something to one's advantage (often followed by on):
        to capitalize on one's opportunities.
  • But the thing is, what the gain is minimal. They're not turning a problem into an advantage leaving them in a better place than they were. If they could choose, they'd never crash land on Earth. But they do, and think, "we might as well since we're here".
    – A. Kvåle
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:15
  • 2
    Ok. Your make the most of it sounds good in that context. Or maybe 'making the best of a bad deal' as an idiom. But I agree there should be something more succinct.
    – S Conroy
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:20
  • 2
    you give a nice succinct explanation in your comment, but insist on a single word to express such?
    – lbf
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:29
  • @lbf true, I'll edit my question.
    – A. Kvåle
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:32
  • @SConroy yeah that describes it pretty well.
    – A. Kvåle
    Aug 15, 2019 at 21:34

take the opportunity TFD an idiom

to make practical and worthwhile use of a particular event, situation, happening, or occasion in order to accomplish something.

As in:

They took the opportunity to explore ...


I see nothing wrong with (appropriately enough) opportunistic:

1 : taking advantage of opportunities as they arise: such as
b : feeding on whatever food is available
// opportunistic feeders
// opportunistic bears

// On defense, South Carolina must become more opportunistic a season after forcing just 16 turnovers, more than just three SEC teams.
— Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "2019 College Football Rankings: No. 35 South Carolina strives to build on success, move up in SEC," 21 July 2019

The first sense of the word—which I didn't quote above—is used in a negative way ("exploiting opportunities with little regard to principle or consequences"); however, the word itself can also be neutral, as with the sense I did quote.

Interestingly, the definition given by Merriam-Webster in its thesaurus section is similar to the first dictionary sense, but more neutral:

attentive to and ready to act on opportunities for personal gain or advancement
• The opportunistic salesperson was always on the lookout for potential new customers.

It's not necessarily making something good out of something bad specifically, but finding the good wherever it might be. The distinction seems subtle enough that the word still applies to the scenario in the question.

Example sentences for the scenario could be as follows:

The aliens were opportunistic during in their time on Earth.
The aliens spent their time opportunistically.


Rise to the occasion

If you say that someone rose to the occasion, you mean that they did what was necessary to successfully overcome a difficultsituation.


Necessity is the mother of invention


when the need for something becomes essential, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.

  • If you saw my comment on SConroy's answer, and my general question, you'll see that their research of earth and humans isn't necessary to overcome the situation. It is more as a way to make the bad situation more profitable. Still not more profitable to make up for it, but more profitable than just crashing, fixing it and being on their way.
    – A. Kvåle
    Aug 16, 2019 at 14:00

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