Is there a Japanese word for "XY problem"? (The phrase comes from here and here)

XY problem - asking about your attempted solution rather than your actual problem.

Or should I write 「XYプロブレム」or should I just describe the "XY problem" word literally (to get the close meaning of "XY problem" word)?

Edit: I will explain more with "XY problem" itself

XY problem is actually happens to everyone, not just only programmer. I think describing XY problem in paragraph will be tricky to understand, so I will make the description in points first:

  1. A person has a problem (let's call this X problem)

  2. The person has an idea to solve the problem (let's call this Y solution). Or you can call Y solution is a baseline to solve the problem

  3. The person doesn't know how to do with the Y solution either

  4. The person asks for help with Y

  5. Others are trying to help with Y, but the person (or the others) thinks Y is too complicated (so the Y is useless)

  6. At the end, this finally clear that the user really wants help with X, and the Y wasn't even a suitable solution for X.

Conclusion The XY problem could be described with this (source):

  1. The person asking the question asks the wrong question (which is related to their attempted solution rather than the original problem), and then finds it difficult to clarify the question because they are stuck on their own solution. The proposed answers are unsatisfactory because they don't address how to implement the author's solution.
  2. People answering the question find it frustrating because the proposed solution doesn't make sense to them ...

This problem is very common in many Stack Exchange communities (I think Japanese.SE is also one of them). It's like a question has many answers but none of them is accepted by the asker.

This inability to come up with a better solution is called Einstellung Effect (this article has clear explanation about this inability, but you may find the specific explanation in Wikipedia).


The best approach to prevent XY problem is be yourself creative. Keep looking different solutions until you get the best one. In my point, when you have many solutions to a problem, you need to do with your solutions multitaskingly, so you're not falling into Einstellung Effect or XY problem.

  • I googled but could not locate Japanese entries for it. I suppose you may better provide the explanation first in detail and then write "this is called XY problem. It is considered as a waste of time for everyone involved" (or something like that.)
    – eltonjohn
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 10:50
  • @eltonjohn I've added explanation about XY problem itself. Apologize me for long delay to add explanation.
    – làntèrn
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


I searched with Google, Qiita (one of the largest programmers' how-to sites in Japanese), and Japanese Stack Overflow, and to my surprise, I failed to find one single Japanese article introducing this 'XY problem'. So I can safely say XYプロブレム or XY問題 is not recognized by Japanese IT workers at all. (But is English "XY problem" widely used outside of Stack Exchange in the first place?)

Unless you want to be the first to introduce this word to Japanese people, here are some existing Japanese phrases I could think of, which may carry the similar meaning.

  • 回【まわ】りくどい質問 (lit. roundabout question)
  • 要領【ようりょう】を得【え】ない質問 (lit. pointless question)
  • ポイントが分からない質問

Or you can pick one of these expressions.

  • 1
    English "XY Problem" is pretty localized to the Stack Exchange network (though it was invented probably by some tech blogger before Stack Overflow was created back in 2008). If you pick a programmer at random out of all the English-speaking programmers in the world, and asked them what the "XY problem" was, I bet more than half wouldn't have heard of it.
    – senshin
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 17:38
  • @naruto I've added explanation about "XY problem" itself. I've checked the Weblio link and I found synonym words on 「発言が曖昧で真実や意図が分かりづらいさま」 are close to what I need, but I'm worry if those expressions are different with "pointless question because of XY problem". Could you clarify this?
    – làntèrn
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 20:37
  • 曖昧な質問 (=ambiguous question) is not too far, but I think 回りくどい質問 or 遠回りな質問 better conveys the idea of XY problem.
    – naruto
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 2:10

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