An anti-pattern is a common response to a recurring problem that is usually ineffective and risks being highly counterproductive.[1][2] The term, coined in 1995 by Andrew Koenig,[3] was inspired by a book, Design Patterns, which highlights a number of design patterns in software development that its authors considered to be highly reliable and effective.

The term was popularized three years later by the book AntiPatterns, which extended its use beyond the field of software design to refer informally to any commonly reinvented but bad solution to a problem. Examples include analysis paralysis, cargo cult programming, death march, groupthink and vendor lock-in.


According to the authors of Design Patterns, there must be at least two key elements present to formally distinguish an actual anti-pattern from a simple bad habit, bad practice, or bad idea:

  1. A commonly used process, structure or pattern of action that despite initially appearing to be an appropriate and effective response to a problem, typically has more bad consequences than good ones
  2. Another solution exists that is documented, repeatable and proven to be effective.


Social and business operations


Project management

Software engineering

Software design

Object-oriented programming



Configuration management

See also


  1. Budgen, D. (2003). Software design. Harlow, Eng.: Addison-Wesley. p. 225. ISBN 0-201-72219-4. "As described in Long (2001), design anti-patterns are 'obvious, but wrong, solutions to recurring problems'."
  2. Scott W. Ambler (1998). Process patterns: building large-scale systems using object technology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-521-64568-9. "...common approaches to solving recurring problems that prove to be ineffective. These approaches are called antipatterns."
  3. Koenig, Andrew (March–April 1995). "Patterns and Antipatterns". Journal of Object-Oriented Programming. 8 (1): 46–48.; was later re-printed in the: Rising, Linda (1998). The patterns handbook: techniques, strategies, and applications. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 387. ISBN 0-521-64818-1. "An antipattern is just like a pattern, except that instead of a solution it gives something that looks superficially like a solution, but isn't one."
  4. "The Anaemic Domain Model is no Anti-Pattern, it's a SOLID design". SAPM: Course blog. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  5. "Revenge of the Nerds". In the OO world you hear a good deal about "patterns". I wonder if these patterns are not sometimes evidence of case (c), the human compiler, at work. When I see patterns in my programs, I consider it a sign of trouble. The shape of a program should reflect only the problem it needs to solve. Any other regularity in the code is a sign, to me at least, that I'm using abstractions that aren't powerful enough— often that I'm generating by hand the expansions of some macro that I need to write.
  6. Lava Flow at
  7. "Undocumented 'lava flow' antipatterns complicate process". 14 January 2002. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
  8. Papadimoulis, Alex (10 April 2007). "Soft Coding". Retrieved 27 June 2011.

Further reading

  1. Laplante, Phillip A.; Neill, Colin J. (2005). Antipatterns: Identification, Refactoring and Management. Auerbach Publications. ISBN 0-8493-2994-9. 
  2. Brown, William J.; Malveau, Raphael C.; McCormick, Hays W.; Thomas, Scott W. (2000). Hudson, Theresa Hudson, ed. Anti-Patterns in Project Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-36366-9. 

External links

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