desuetude

Pronounced: DEH-swih-tood, noun

Note: I think I’ve run across this word in reading


Yesterday’s word

The word satisfice means “to satisfy the minimum requirements in a given situation”

First usage

This word came into being in 1956 (but see the comments below).

Background / Comments

There was a word satisfice that came into English in the mid-1500s. This word became obsolete, but our word was coined by Herbert A Simon as a blend of satisfy and suffice. The act of satisficing has a bit of controversy about it. Some people disparage this action as “taking the easy way out” or “just doing enough to get by”. However, when there is a lot to do and not a lot of time to get it all done, but doing just the minimum requirements can be a big help. Sometimes, too, people (engineers) can spend far too much time perfecting something that was certainly good enough for the situation. Or, if there are a lot of options, one can get stuck in “decision paralysis” – satificing can help with this by focusing on the really important criteria. In my career, I’ve seen both the good and the bad of satisficing; I remember an engineer who did an impressive amount of coding that seemed to work well. However, later analysis showed that he had removed a great number of functions that he just didn’t think were important without checking with anyone else. Did he satisfice? Certainly. But I’ve been on the receiving side of a request to satisfice: a supervisor cautioned us not to go overboard on features because the customer was “not paying us to build a Cadillac”

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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