I'm translating a piece of text form one of my co-workers and we couldn't come up with a proper English word for the Dutch term "handelingsperspectief".

According to various sites a translation would be "action perspective" but that is a very literal translation, so I guess there must be a decent English word or phrase that conveys the same message.

A "handelingsperspectief" is usually all the available actions one could take to solve a problem. In case of a country having a budget deficit the "handelingsperspectief" would range from decreasing spendings to increasing taxes, and all intricate details that come with that range of actions.

Example sentences:

  • The "handelingsperspectief" for dealing with climate change would range from protecting ourselves from rising sea-levels to preventing wildfires and everything in between.

  • Do the results of this study provide you with a "handelingsperspectief"?

  • I don’t know if we do translation questions here, but this seems like you’ve added all the necessary details for it to be more than that, so I have, accordingly, upvoted. Sep 7, 2021 at 7:49
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    I can't think of a single word; you would have to say something like 'list of possible solutions'. Sep 7, 2021 at 8:00
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    @Fivesideddice Word requests are on topic. Some of our highest scored word request questions are helping someone describe a concept they know a word for in their own language, but isn't easily translated to a specific context in English.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 9, 2021 at 16:54

4 Answers 4


I did a bit of Googling and it sounds like this word is not just a way of describing such actions, but is actually a formal term for a collected portfolio of possible actions.

We have the term 'action plan', which would contain positive steps to be put into action. Such steps might be put into practice immediately.

We also have the terms 'contingency plan' and 'business continuity plan' which outline what actions would/can be taken to ensure that 'business' can continue in the event of something happening that might normally disrupt it. These are more reactive than an 'action plan'.

  • Your analysis is spot on. It is indeed the compiled list of possible actions. While I like your choices in English words, I feel they have a bit too much of a negative connotation. Sorry if I set that vibe with the examples I used.
    – Luuklag
    Sep 7, 2021 at 8:07
  • @Luuklag For some reason, more negative or 'apologetic' expressions and idioms come to mind! We have a lot of expressions for explaining the limits of our resources. I've added a couple more examples to my answer hoping these will help. Looking at your answer, I believe 'action plan' is probably the most apt.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 7, 2021 at 8:13
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    @Luuklag I think 'action plan' implies that a specific solution has been chosen, whereas I understand 'handelingsperspectief' to encompass multiple potential solutions, from which one will be selected. I would suggest 'range of possible options' as a fairly idiomatic translation ("The committee considered a range of possible options for improving education provision in the area, and eventually voted to enlarge the existing school. They came up with an action plan to design the extension and seek tenders for its construction.")
    – avid
    Sep 7, 2021 at 17:43

A somewhat technical way to describe this, which I think would be naturally understood by those from a mathematical/computer science/physics background, would be something like choice space or option space. This uses the mathematical sense of the word space, in particular relating to a phase space:

a space in which all possible states of a system are represented, with each possible state corresponding to one unique point in the phase space

I don't recommend these as pieces of natural vocabulary that are widely used, but if this is a term you are going to need to use frequently in a text or particular setting, then these could be options to use provided you defined them for the reader.


One possibility although it is a fairly rare word is armamentarium

From the Free Dictionary https://www.thefreedictionary.com/armamentarium

The complete range of materials available or used for a task.
the array of devices or materials used or available for an undertaking.

The advantage of this is that it does mean the complete range of means at your disposal but as I say it is a rare word so might send your readers to the dictionary.

A more common alternative, as pointed out by FumbleFingers in a comment is

More commonly / informally, toolbox = toolset = toolkit. Especially in computing contexts, your "toolkit" is the complete range of resources available or used for a task

  • More commonly / informally, toolbox = toolset = toolkit. Especially in computing contexts, your "toolkit" is the complete range of resources available or used for a task. Sep 7, 2021 at 16:28
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    @FumbleFingers yes, good point. I have taken the liberty of adding your comment into my answer as I know comments are viewed as ephemeral here. Ping me if that is not OK.
    – mdewey
    Sep 9, 2021 at 16:22
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    This is an obscure, arcane word and would not be used as a regular term.
    – Lambie
    Sep 9, 2021 at 17:20
  • @Lambie well I did say it was rare. Sadly I do not speak Dutch so I do not know what the register of the OP's term is.
    – mdewey
    Sep 10, 2021 at 12:24

Considering the common roots of English and Dutch, might we go sideways through German, where handeling is pretty-much "trading"?

"Handeling" as "trading" seems the more useful because English "handling" means "dealing with".

Combining those with "action…" particularly and the notion of "all the available actions…" in general seems to suggest "practical", perhaps "pragmatic."

Lo: https://mobile-dictionary.reverso.net/en/english-synonyms/practical+application tells us "practical" in the sense of "practical application" has synonyms: applied, efficient, empirical, experimental, factual, functional, pragmatic, realistic, utilitarian; businesslike, down-to-earth, everyday, hard-headed, matter-of-fact, mundane, ordinary, realistic, sensible, workaday; doable, feasible, practicable, serviceable, sound, useful, workable; accomplished, efficient, experienced, proficient, qualified, seasoned, skilled, trained, veteran, working.

That's just what I meant when I thought "practical" might be the Answer here.

By the way, I'm not sure translations really belong to ELL. Might they - and thus, this - be better served in English Language Usage?

  • Hanks for you answer. I'm sorry but trading isn't a correct translation of "handelen". It would roughly translate to "taking an action"
    – Luuklag
    Sep 9, 2021 at 21:18
  • @Luuklag Thanks and with the best will in the world, you missed the point. Dutch and English are not like Japanese and Russian nor even French and Polish; they share Germanic roots. One of the common threads in all Germanic languages is that "hand…" shares some of its meanings. Here, that does include "trading" and "taking an action" because those senses clearly are linked by "dealing", among others I Posted above. That's partly why I suggested this would be better treated in EL Users… Sep 9, 2021 at 21:39

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