Is there an expression for the situation where you've just fixed something, only to find out that your fix broke something else? So you fix that something else, and another thing breaks. And so on and so forth?

Totally inspired by my current work at my job.

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    The technical term is life. And only ends with death. – RegDwigнt May 3 '12 at 15:53
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    +1 This is fun! I mean, finding a word, not the predicament. – Kris May 3 '12 at 16:00
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    I had a friend who used to call this type of situation "irrefixable." – Kit Z. Fox May 3 '12 at 16:48
  • @KitFox That'd be, if the same thing kept breaking down, instead. – Kris May 3 '12 at 16:58
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    Let me guess: you work in software? – J.R. May 3 '12 at 17:57

The software industry term of art for the basic fix-causes-breakage phenomenon is regression. Hence the derived term regression testing, in which one is testing whether any fixes one made broke something else.

The ongoing chain isn't commonly discussed, but cascade regression immediately comes to mind to describe it.


Within software development community I agree that regression is the best term, but informally I've heard people call this "whack-a-mole", after the carnival game where "moles" quickly pop out of holes and you have to hit them before they vanish. I am not sure why people use that term, since it doesn't capture the causation, unless it's because you just keep pounding away, with no way to predict where the next mole (or bug) will arise, hoping that you can be quick enough to catch each.

  • Yep, definitely this is called "playing whack-a-mole". The analogy may not be perfect, but it captures the frustration very well. – Hot Licks Feb 22 '16 at 3:58

If I want to sound like a super nerd, I might say

iteratively concealed problem unfolding

Since you are not looking for one word, I believe the you could use it.

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