A stopgap is a temporary solution to a problem, like a piece of cardboard taped over the broken window in your car. Until you can get it fixed, you need a stopgap.

This sturdy English native dates to the early 16th century, and like its semantic cousin makeshift, it seems to have been cobbled together by the two closest words at hand. Both words actually originated from phrasal use of their components: stop a gap for the first, and make shift for the second. Not that they're jury-rigged in any way!

Definitions of stopgap
  1. noun
    something contrived to meet an urgent need or emergency
    synonyms: make-do, makeshift
    see moresee less
    type of:
    a means to an end; not necessarily a principled or ethical one
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week