desenrascanço

Desenrascanço is a Portuguese word more or less meaning “disentanglement,” used to refer to improvising solutions, or, as one web page puts it, “an ability to solve a problem without having the knowledge or the adequate tools to do so, by use of imaginative resources or by applying knowledge to new situations [...] resulting in a [...] good-enough solution.”

I gather that “hack” or “kludge” might be quasi-synonyms, except that I most commonly hear those used with negative connotations, whereas desenrascanço apparently has positive connotations.

A friend of mine once lived in an apartment where a lot of things didn't quite work; the people who lived there tended to put together a lot of “makeshift systems” (their phrase, iIrc) to get things working right. If I'm understanding right, that was very much in the spirit of desenrascanço.

Another web page described desenrascanço in terms of MacGyver, but the TV example that sprang more readily to my mind was Alias. Without ever making a big deal of it, one of Sydney Bristow's great strengths was making use of whatever was available to get herself out of bad situations.

Yet another web page suggests that “This is the word you use when you realized you dropped your keys down a storm drain and pull out an umbrella, a flashlight and a roll of tape and by the magic of desenrascanço, retrieve your keys.”