The Washington Post

‘Kludge’: The trendy word to describe Obamacare

The 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.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.