The Washington Post

‘Kludge’: The trendy word to describe Obamacare


The Healthcare.gov website is displayed on laptop computers arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Train wreck? Debacle?

That’s all ya got, Obamacare Web site critics?

Get with it.

Get with the “kludge.”

That’s right, kludge.

Kludge is the word of the moment. Need to sound smarter than smart? Kludge.

Need to rip with flair? Kludge.

Kludge, according to our friends at Merriam-Webster, means “an awkward or inferior computer system or program that is created quickly to solve a problem.”

Hmm, sounds about right.

Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist, gets it. He wrote a column headlined “The Big Kludge.” “Obamacare is an immense kludge — a clumsy, ugly structure that more or less deals with a problem, but in an inefficient way,” Krugman wrote.

And Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago showed his mastery of all things kludge by rolling out the adjectival form of the word Tuesday morning on NPR: kludgy. Oh, yeah! You go, Professor Pollack.

But if you’re going to go there, please go there with care. Forthwith, a pronunciation guide: Kludge. Kludgy.

Happy kludging.

Manuel Roig-Franzia is a writer in The Washington Post’s Style section. His long-form articles span a broad range of subjects, including politics, power and the culture of Washington, as well as profiling major political figures and authors.

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