Is there a word in English for a solution that is temporary, but may become permanent if no better solution is found? I thought of "provisional" but if there is something better than that I would like to know.

The context is a position which I will take upon myself if I can, but I am asking for a "temporary" volunteer to replace me now and to stay the replacement if my situation means that I cannot take the position.


  • 2
    I think your original idea of provisional is your best choice.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 17:40

5 Answers 5


The postpositive adjective pro tem is sometimes used in this situation.

pro tem |ˈˈproʊ ˈtɛm| adverb & adjective

for the time being : [as adv. ] a printer that Marisa could use pro tem | [as adj. ] a pro tem committee | [as postpositive adj. ] the president pro tem of the Senate.

ORIGIN abbreviation of Latin pro tempore.


As Robusto noted, this word does not necessarily imply that something or someone may become permanent, although my Shorter Oxford gives next as one definition of pro tem.


Further possibilities to consider are interim, transitional, and stopgap.

  • Thank you, these words give me some fodder for the thesaurus.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 11:45



probation 2. the process or period of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person in a certain role, for example, a new employee : for an initial period of probation, your manager will closely monitor your progress. ‒ Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words

  • Thank you. I agree that probation does meet the definition that need, however I intend to project a positive face to the position. I wonder if there is a positively-connotated counterpart to 'probation'.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 13:46

A word sometimes used in these situations for this kind of position is "trial." That is, it is being considered for "permanence," but "the jury is still out" (pun intended).

  • The word trial sounds as if the outcome depends upon the temporary member's performance, whereas the outcome of this situation depends on my own circumstances.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 16:43
  • @dotancohen: They're evaluating you, you're evaluating them, but it seems like at least one is "trying out" the other.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 29, 2012 at 22:02

You may look at a word like interim:

The use of a sump pump was an interim solution, but it could become permanent if nothing better shows up.

The thing is, any word that implies something being used as a stopgap (i.e., temporary) measure, will not automatically imply that it may become permanent. That information would have to be added. Still, any temporary solution may become a permanent one; that is understood.

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