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I am looking for a word that captures the spirit of power-to-weight ratio, but in a mostly non-technical sense.

The spirit I refer to is something like efficiency, productivity, bang-for-buck, or even return on investment, but also perhaps frugality and prudence.

Ideally there will be both noun and adjective forms.

The connotation should be unambiguously positive ("frugal" is too close to "penny-pinching"), and also intrinsically positive, so that additional qualifiers are not needed (for example, "efficiency" must be qualified as either "high efficiency" or "low efficiency").

"Efficiency" and "prudence" together come closest, but is there a single word capturing both?

Example usage in sentences:

  • "The word of the new camera tripod makes it attractive for professional fieldwork"
  • "Environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly demanding word products that minimize waste without compromising performance"
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4 Answers 4

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I think 'lightweight' may be the best and most widely-understood word you could use. In some contexts, 'lightweight' can mean weaker - but in the context of something where being light is advantageous, it is in no way negative. For example, bicycles are described as "lightweight" if they are made out of light-but-strong metals or alloys.

If you wanted to make a compound adjective that clarified something is both light yet strong, you could perhaps use 'light-but-strong', or 'light-but-sturdy'. The latter would be particularly apt for a camera tripod, as 'sturdiness' would imply it remains standing.

  • "The lightweight construction of the new camera tripod makes it attractive for professional fieldwork"
  • "Environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly demanding light-but-sturdy products that minimize waste without compromising performance".

The Wikipedia entry for titanium uses the term "strength-to-weight ratio" and notes that this quality is due to its "low-density", but these are both reasonably technical terms that are unlikely to be used in everyday English, such as your examples.

Also, consider this example for reference as it is a general interest article which uses "strong and lightweight" and variations of it throughout. It would seem there is no better term, at least one widely known.

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    It's hard to think of anything better than this. Related terms like "portable", "manoeuvreable", "convenient", "luggable" can carry a similar meaning, but all focus on light weight and easy handling.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 14:43
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Although compact tends to suggest size rather than weight, size and weight often go hand-in-hand. So:

compact
ADJECTIVE

1.1 Having all the necessary components or features neatly fitted into a small space.

‘The compact machine has many features that can benefit packagers of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and small device parts.’

‘The gear-driven design also makes the unit more compact than other similar components.’

‘They provide the right set of features in a compact form for the right price.’

Source: Lexico — compact



 Here's what the (non-compact) OED has to say:

compact, adj.1

II. 3. b. Having the parts so arranged that the whole lies within relatively small compass, without straggling portions or members; nearly and tightly packed or arranged; not sprawling, scattered, or diffuse. So compact order or arrangement.

Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required) .

Here it is in your sentences:

The compactness of the new camera tripod makes it attractive for professional fieldwork.

Environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly demanding compact products that minimize waste without compromising performance.

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I suggested the adjective top-rated. It may be the only way to condense bang for your buck and still imply excellence in a wide range of parameters, such as efficiency, features, lifespan, power consumption, etc. Product ratings generally use these parameters. Cost is almost always a consideration.

Environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly demanding top-rated products that minimize waste without compromising performance

This would be two words for a noun unless you reword to use the adjective:

The top ratings earned by the new camera tripod make it attractive for professional fieldwork.

Consistently top-rated, this new camera tripod will be attractive for professional fieldwork.


To help you figure out whether an appliance is energy efficient, the federal government requires most appliances to display the bright yellow and black EngeryGuide label. Although these labels will not tell you which appliance is the most efficient, they will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can compare them yourself. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy lists the energy performance of top-rated energy-saving appliances on its web site... Energy Saver$

There were only two important improvements in quality for room air conditioners that did not involve energy efficiency. The first was the reduced weight, declining for a standard unit from 180 pounds in 1957 to seventy-five pounds in 1970. The second was the transition from the requirement of a heavy-duty 230-volt power source to a normal 1150-volt power plug...The third was that more than half of units tested in 1953 lacked thermostats and had only one fan speed. Consumer Reports commented in 1953 that all units are "very noisy" but in 1965 that "the top-rated models are very quiet." R. J. Gordon; The Rise and Fall of American Growth

Some top-rated models [of binoculars] in descending price categories include... P. Johnsgard; The Birds of Nebraska

Air conditioners have become much more efficient over the past 15 years. Top-rated models now boast efficiency levels up to 50 percent higher than the current average. Union of Concerned Scientists, et al. Cooler Smarter

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  • Far too hypernymic. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 10:19
  • Hypernymic, Yes. Too hypernymic, though? The OP requests mostly non-technical, return on investment, bang-for buck, economical, and power-to-weight ratio. It should also be appropriate for a tripod. AND it should be unambiguously positive.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 10:26
  • Look at some of the top-rated answers on some sites. // If I remember correctly, the last time I looked at bridge cameras, the top-rated model was the one that took the best pictures, though it didn't come high on the value-for-money or ease-of-use scales. I've CV-d OP as asking for one word to do the job of several. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 10:58
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The question title about 'power-to-weight' doesn't really work with the two examples. The first seems to focus on a quality suitable for professional fieldwork. I was going to suggest ergonomic but that seems more related to ease and comfort of use, so I propose the term

sustainable
ADJECTIVE

1.1 Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.
our fundamental commitment to sustainable development

from Lexico.

Although more applicable to a working practice or policy, it is increasingly used with objects.

  • The sustainability of the new camera tripod makes it attractive for professional fieldwork

  • Environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products that minimize waste without compromising performance"

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