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The best way

Posted by Pamela on May 08, 2007

In Reply to: The best way posted by R. Berg on May 08, 2007

: : : : I got stuck searching for a phrase in English, that could describe not the most optimal/efficient way of solving the problem or doing something, for example, going from Rome to Milan via New York. Does such phrase exist?

: : :
: : : There are several, depending on the kind of problem. The directional kind, as in your example, can be called a "roundabout" solution. A machine or device or process that's wildly inefficient can be called a "Rube Goldberg" solution, after the cartoonist who used to draw absurd machines with twenty different steps to accomplish a simple task. (There is a UK equivalent to Rube, from the same era, named Heath Robinson.)

: : The computer guys at work talk about a "work around." Not actually solving the problem but coming up a way to work around it. Then there's "beat around the bush" and go "around Robin Hood's barn." See //

: "Taking the long way around" is used, and not only for journeys. Doing something "the hard way" is common, too, or used to be. ~rb

Another one is "Go from A to B via Z" or "Get from A to B via Z" (Going form A to B is the most direct route, A - Z - B is the long way round). There's also another saying, something like "going a long way back to make a beginning" which is used when people tell a fairly simple story in a long-winded way. And "over hill and along (or over/through) dale" is also used when you take a path which is not the most direct. "Making a mountain out of a molehill" might also apply, depending on the context (i.e. making too much work of a simple task). Pamela