If this is the solution, what was the problem?

I hate the word solution. I really do. It’s now so over-used it has lost all its meaning. Lunch solutions? Right. That would be a sandwich then. Or how about plumbing solutions? Got it. You’re a plumber. Or spotted on a bin in Glasgow the other weekend: ‘Providing refuse solutions’.

But my favourite, seen on a website this week, ‘Contemporary quality solutions to light control’. Yes people. We are talking about a blind.

And while we’re at it turn-key is really awful as well. As is one-stop shop. And the word user. The one-stop shop for turnkey solutions for users. Good grief.

Even Wikipedia agrees. Here’s what they say.

The word solution should be confined to its use in chemistry, mathematics and problem solving. It should not be used to refer to products, services, software or a combination of these things, since such usage implies that the product or service solves the problem it is intended to solve: the word “solution” should instead be replaced by a concrete descriptive term for the type of product, such as “software”. Solution often is used simply as a buzzword that can be eliminated altogether with no loss of meaning

Dubious use:

  • “The company offers web hosting solutions for e-business…” Instead say “The company offers web hosting for e-business…” (if that is what it does).

Acceptable use:

  • “A solution of sodium chloride in water…”
  • “The solution to the chess problem involves the sacrifice of the knight…”

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