what's that word that means strength and efficiencey?
June 29, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a word that conveys both strength (foundation, well built framework, difficult to break, potential for growth) and efficiency (basic, best use of resources, no embellishments).

This word has been on the tip of my tongue for years, ever since I started playing Go. I keep wanting to use it in my classwork because the concept is so fundamental to how I think things should be done, but I can't put it to words.

I want to be able to describe how I want concepts to fit succinctly, as a solid unit, with no excess. It also describes how a process can be made so very lean that it accomplishes specifically what it needs to do, without any waste. Also, how a single move in a game completes a perfect strategy. Also, how a samurai can make the perfect, killing stroke. Also, how the entire self-contained ecology is fundamentally perfectly functioning.
posted by rebent to Writing & Language (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Feat? Coup? Crux? Rudiment? Cornerstone? Masterstroke?
posted by Nomyte at 8:16 AM on June 29, 2011


It's probably not the word you're looking for, but I keep coming back to elegance.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Robust?
posted by scolbath at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2011


Deft?
posted by astapasta24 at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2011


Precision?
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2011


Elegant.

I didn't realize until recently how the definition should rightfully include something about simplicity. Something elegant is tasteful because it is well crafted and perfectly suited to its purpose. No need for anything more than what is necessary, but beautiful nonetheless.
posted by Madamina at 8:23 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fit?
posted by fings at 8:24 AM on June 29, 2011


Steadfast?
posted by pianomover at 8:24 AM on June 29, 2011


I had a professor that used "parsimonious" this way. It's a selective interpretation of the many definitions for the word, and lots of folks associate it with "stingy," but may be worthy of consideration.
posted by mauvest at 8:25 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to be able to describe how I want concepts to fit succinctly, as a solid unit, with no excess.

It might help if you constructed a sentence with this imaginary word in it.

But elegant sounds right, particularly when used in context: an elegant move, elegant stroke, elegant system etc.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on June 29, 2011


Pyramidal.
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 AM on June 29, 2011


spartan, stark, no-frills
posted by acidic at 8:27 AM on June 29, 2011


apt?
posted by Cocodrillo at 8:30 AM on June 29, 2011


I read your question and immediately thought that there must be a(n untranslatable) Japanese word or expression for this concept: the act or motion that most efficiently achieves a simple, beautiful, inevitable end with integrity and elegance.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


optimal?
posted by allelopath at 8:33 AM on June 29, 2011


This isn't the word you want I don't think, but I get "economical" from the examples in the last paragraph. Those are to me efficient uses of resources but I tend to think of "efficient" as more descriptive of a process that's not wasteful as opposed to one that accomplishes all that's needed to accomplish in the smallest amount of whatever is needed.

I am having trouble weaving in strength. When I hear strength plus efficiency the gut reaction is "German" - perhaps there's a German word? The examples in the last paragraph speak "Japanese" to me.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:34 AM on June 29, 2011


also effortless, which usually implies extensive prior training or talent, as well as elegance.
posted by acidic at 8:35 AM on June 29, 2011


I'm tossing "precision" and "precise" into the mix.
posted by likeso at 8:37 AM on June 29, 2011


As a programmer, I use the word "elegant" in exactly this context.

An elegant system is one that does its job, does exactly its job, does nothing but its job, and does that job perfectly. A consequence of an elegant design is usually that it is robust, deals with special cases properly (or works so generally that there is no such thing as a special case), and does not break.
posted by Netzapper at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whoops, missed earlier reference to precision, sorry MonkeyToes.

Okay, going with steel/katana references: honed, tempered, incisive...
posted by likeso at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2011


elegant is exactly this. I think about that concept a lot, and other words that I use are efficient, economy (like, economy of movement), and graceful.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:45 AM on June 29, 2011


Shibui or shibumi?
posted by cameradv at 8:58 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know the concept you're grasping for, and I don't think elegant is specific enough- there's an implied strength it doesn't get across.

It's not the word you're looking for either, but if you want to latch on to an existing concept, the Roman Legion had a military formation called testudo (tortoise). It was basically a way to interlock shields into an impenetrable defensive posture. If you've ever seen Gladiator, the early scene where Maximus rallies the slave gladiators against the charioteers shows this in action.
posted by mkultra at 9:06 AM on June 29, 2011


I really like "honed" or even "well-honed".
posted by IvyMike at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2011


Atsumi, which means thick strength in Go. Atsumi is better than weakness. Atsumi is better than heaviness.
posted by michaelh at 9:09 AM on June 29, 2011


Pointed?
posted by monkeymadness at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2011


Decisive? Unyielding? Mechanical or brutal efficiency?
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2011


I want to be able to describe how I want concepts to fit succinctly, as a solid unit, with no excess. It also describes how a process can be made so very lean that it accomplishes specifically what it needs to do, without any waste.

Totally idiosyncratic, but when I'm thinking about designing a computer solution to a problem, I use the word "taut" along these lines. I imagine there's a set of issues that have to be captured and solved, and my program is a net that captures them. A 'taut' solution covers exactly what is needed and has no loose bits.

It's totally dependent on the net analogy, but I like it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:09 AM on June 29, 2011


I think you used an excellent word in your question - lean. At least, it matches the portion above the break.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:18 PM on June 29, 2011


Concise/concision has some of the elements you're looking for. I use that word to describe things other than writing sometimes, as it implies tautness and density.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:22 PM on June 29, 2011


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