One can think of a routine or common procedure to be applied (here it is in case of technical sequence of operations) on any system.

When some exception occurs - the common/ normal routine is NOT followed by another one is followed. I want to use an appropriate word for this.

Few words i have thought of myself that doesn't quite fit.

  • alternate procedure sounds like a replacement so doesn't indicate that it should be used only for exception.

  • exceptional procedure is not appropriate because exceptional is quite often connotative to "great"

  • non-standard non-regular or irregular is not appropriate because this secondary method is also standardized for the given situation.

I want one appropriate word (as an adjective to the process) that indicates that it is not a "normal" procedure but to be used under some exception.

  • If it is dependent on the nature of the exception, it can be a custom procedure. If it is the same for all exceptions, it can be an ad hoc procedure. There are more such alternatives if you look up a bit around.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 6:02

4 Answers 4


There's always the idiomatic expression "Plan B" or the "backup procedure"

Really, though, if it's extremely important to not use a generic descriptor like alternate, generic, custom, exceptional, etc., you might as well just say name the procedure in terms of what it does, for example, the "recovery procedure."

PS If you're talking about software one standard word for this is the "exception handler," because exception has a specific technical meaning. Also "error handler."

In that vein, you could also try the "exception handling procedure" or even "excursion handling procedure." "Excursion" has the technical meaning of "deviation from normal" in operations science.

  • Agree - specific names might be more appropriate. Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 7:24
  • +I have used 'recovery procedure' as final name. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 6:59

Psychiatrists call some of the newer medications for depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia atypical antipsychotics.

Procedures that aren't SOP can be considered:

an atypical procedure,
a special procedure,
a specialized procedure,
an exception procedure [using a nominal adjective seems to preclude the notion that the procedure itself is exceptionally good, but retains the notion that it's there for cases considered exceptions],
a circumstantial procedure,

or maybe even

a discrete procedure.

Do any of these fit your needs?

  • +1 atypical and discrete procedure sounds quite aligned to intention. Thanks. Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 6:02
  • +1 for special: Having a limited or specific function, application, or scope; Arranged for a particular occasion or purpose; Not usual or commonplace
    – JLG
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 13:12

A term used in risk management is "contingency plan":

A contingency plan is a plan devised for an outcome other than in the usual (expected) plan

The term is more often used in high-level strategic contexts rather than day-to-day operational activities.


In software engineering use-case analysis the terms exception path and alternative path are widely accepted. So if you are dealing with this type of subject matter then they are appropriate and your audience should understand the intended meanings without getting confused about whether this path is "a really good one" or one designed to handle an error condition.

This post does a good job of explaining things:

Exception path and alternative path sound as if they’re describing the same thing. However, they are worth differentiating. An exception path contains steps that execute if something goes wrong, such as an input from the actor that the system cannot handle or a condition or series of conditions that occurs that are not part of the functionality. An example of an exception path is an actor keying in a record for a search and the record not being found.

An alternative path is actually much closer to the basic course of events because everything happens correctly (in other words, there are no errors); an alternative path simply is less likely to happen than the basic course of events. An example of an alternative path is the use of an unusual form of payment, such as the use of a credit card when a PO is more common.

Read more: http://practicalanalyst.com/use-case-basics-distinguishing-between-exception-and-alternative-paths/#ixzz29dgiqx6F
Author: Jonathan Babcock
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike

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