They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became insert word.

A noun or an adjective (or even a phrase) describing this would work. This word would focus on a good plan that was never performed or was incomplete, and not a plan that was attempted but failed and did horribly.

Issues can refer to budget and timing issues, but one would still want the plan as it should work. Therefore it would be used in a case where it was temporarily changed.

  • 5
    Moot (second meaning).
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 0:02
  • 3
    A phrase common in my workplace is "overcome by events" - generally shortened to OBE. I think it captures the sense of a reasonable plan that has to be abandoned.
    – user888379
    Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 16:43
  • Has this plan been scrapped, or merely delayed? If you insist on a single word, "Withheld" might fit the bill, but that would be at your insistence. Most simply, the phrase "held up…" and most idiomatically, "placed on the back burner." Beyond those, you need to specify the problem, as for instance whether "some issues" really means timing or, perhaps, budget or technical issues? Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 20:37
  • Do you mean "has not been performed" or "was not performed"? Is the plan never going to be used, or has it been temporarily shelved? The title and content of your question don't match in that regard
    – gotube
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 22:50
  • I elaborated more on some specifics, thanks.
    – turkey
    Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 13:49

12 Answers 12


They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it was shelved.

shelve (v.)

Decide not to proceed with (a project or plan), either temporarily or permanently.

Plans to reopen the school have been shelved Lexico

To put off or aside

Shelve a project m-w

If someone shelves a plan or project, they decide not to continue with it, either for a while or permanently. Collins

Fortune seemed thus about to crown Davier's laborious and successful trials; but before his appointed hour of embarkation arrived, cries of "Vive la République" were ringing throughout the French islands, and the new process was shelved. Charles Lock et al. Sugar: A Handbook for Planters and Refiners (1888)

Subsequently, with my encouragement, Elsevier developed a similar idea for a magazine/journal devoted to process chemistry in the early 1990s, and even though the market survey looked good, the project was again shelved. A.J. Blacker and M.T. Williams; Pharmaceutical Process Development

The scheme was not rejected outright. After a lengthy discussion, during which the councillors asked about alternative locations, the possibility of renovating the present hall, and the cost, it was decided that further consideration was needed. Eventually the plan was shelved until the ratepayers showed some interest, which they seem not to have done. Dorothy Minddenhall; Unbuilt Victoria

The detailed explanation demonstrates that Wells found himself in trouble with Heart of Darkness not because his vision of race relations was too progressive or his notion of narrative too experimental but because he refused to work with the economic conventions of classical Hollywood filmmaking. RKO eventually had to cover the $160,000 Welles had already spent on the film and shelve the entire project. Marguerite Rippy; Orson Wells and the Unfinished RKO Projects


They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became infeasible.

infeasible (adjective)

not possible to do easily or conveniently; impracticable. (Oxford)

This puts emphasis on the fact that plan is not practically possible, and implies that it was not executed as a result.

  • 4
    There might be people who see "infeasible" as useful in that dictionary. I suggest "unfeasible" would be more likely. Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 20:26
  • BTW, phrasing like "but it became infeasible due to timing issues" is at least as natural. Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 0:45

They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became unworkable.


unworkable, adjective

  1. not practicable or feasible

You could use either abeyance or abeyant (although the former tends to be used more often.)

Thus you could say

They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it was held in abeyance.

They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became abeyant.

Vocabulary.com defines abeyant as

inactive but capable of becoming active

The wild romanticist, the lover of the strange and the lurid and the grotesque who created the "Symphonic Fantastique," never, perhaps, became entirely abeyant.

And Lexico defines abeyance thus

A state of temporary disuse or suspension.

matters were held in abeyance pending further enquiries.


These terms are jargon related to Project Management, and sometimes used in a slightly sardonic way. So they aren't suitable for formal writing. But I have seen:

Dead on Arrival (abbreviated DOA)

Overcome by Events (abbreviated OBE)

Both terms refer to plans that may have been perfectly suitable when they were first devised. But the situation changed while the plans were being put together or communicated, so they became unsuitable for the current situation.

  • 1
    +1 for ‘‘overcome by events’’, which I have heard often.  I believe that ‘‘dead on arrival’’ is bad, partly because it may be disturbing to people who have recently experienced an actual death, but mostly because it suggests that the plan was never any good. Commented Nov 24, 2021 at 18:49

These two don't exactly have the "good plan" aspect, but: "moot" or "null".

1 : not certain : argued about but not possible for people to prove

  • He says that they should have foreseen the accident, but that point is moot. [=debatable]

2 US : not worth talking about : no longer important or worth discussing

  • The court ruled that the issue is now moot because the people involved in the dispute have died.
  • I think they were wrong, but the point is moot.  Their decision has been made and it can't be changed now.


2 : amounting to nothing : NIL

  • the null uselessness of the wireless transmitter that lacks a receiving station
    — Fred Majdalany

And from "moot", "obsolete" also seems like it would fit:

1 : no longer used because something newer exists

  • obsolete [=outdated] computers
  • The system was made/rendered obsolete by their invention.

  : replaced by something newer

  • obsolete mills and factories

2 : no longer used by anyone

  • an obsolete word

Definitions are from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


In certain circumstances, "inoperative" might do, I think.

To the extent that the plan was guiding or controlling what people were doing, but then ceased to guide or control people's actions, I think you might say that plan had become inoperative (had ceased to have the effect or force of guiding people's actions).

Here's Merriam-Webster, and I'm thinking of b:

in·​op·​er·​a·​tive | \ (ˌ)in-ˈä-p(ə-)rə-tiv , -ˈä-pə-ˌrā-
Definition of inoperative
: not operative: such as
a: not functioning
an inoperative clock
b: having no effect or force
an inoperative law

  • 1
    To my mind "Inoperative" implies it did operate in the past, so it's not the best word to describe this situation. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 21:30

The plan faltered. A quick web search confirms that falter is commonly used with plans:


Since the concrete meaning of the word is not falling but mere stumbling, the metaphorical faltering plan is not clinically dead yet, it is just in trouble and not currently being executed. But that may in fact be adequate in a lot of cases because predictions are difficult, especially when they concern the future.


They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became foiled.

or, I think this is better (I am not 100% sure about the above grammatically):

They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it was foiled

foil (v)

Cambridge dictionary

foil verb [ T ] uk /fɔɪl/ us /fɔɪl/ to prevent someone or something from being successful:

The prisoners' attempt to escape was foiled at the last minute when police received a tip-off.

The verb foiled here shows that something, whether a person or event, has caused the plan to not work out. It would express further progress or planning before it stopped.

  • 2
    "Foiled" implies someone actively worked to prevent something happening - your example is a good one. So I think it isn't the best word for this situation. Commented Nov 22, 2021 at 21:32


If the plan in question has the possibility of being performed some time after the difficulties have been overcome, you can use the word "back-burnered", referring to the action of the same name of moving something you are actively cooking on a stove to one of the stove burners in the back to let it continue cooking while you take care of something else.

NOTE: As is common in business today, if something gets "back-burnered", it may never see the light of day again. However, the expression gives the listener the impression that it will be revisited sometime in the future.




(withdrawn from use/development)

  • A good answer, but you should quote a definition from a dictionary or other reputable source with a link to it if it's online.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 15:09

Yet another word used to signify that something (was) stopped even before it started is stillborn.

They devised a potential method to solve the problem, but due to timing issues it became stillborn.




1.1 (of a proposal or plan) having failed to develop or succeed; unrealized.

‘Definitions, however, are not enough: if they are not followed by a viable action plan, they remain stillborn.’



2 something that is stillborn ends before it ever has the chance to begin

a stillborn love affair

  • I think "was stillborn" is more natural than "became stillborn".
    – tgdavies
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 0:11
  • 7
    I would personally avoid using such a word out of respect for those that had a miscarriage. Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 0:28
  • @GregoryCurrie yeah - its a potential trigger word, but its a valid answer. Best we could do is hide it behind a spoiler tag, if that even works on English.SE
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 1:36
  • 3
    @Criggie It's an answer. I can't say I can think of a context where it may be more suitable that other suggestions here. If you have to hide an answer behind a spoiler, it's not likely that it would be fit-for-purpose. Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 1:52
  • 1
    I probably wouldn't use this, not because it's offensive, but because it's not a good answer. To use "stillborn" metaphorically connotes that something failed but for no good or clear reason (hence, the metaphor). Perhaps lack of interest, political support, etc. If a specific problem was known, a different word should be used. Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 11:26

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