[Ads-l] fool-proof and fail-proof

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 21 01:37:30 UTC 2015

On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 1:19 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> fail-proof

Is this being used in addition to "fool-proof," where, IMO, it's a great
addition to the language? E.g. a person might say,

My computer is fail-proof - it will not simply break of itself - but it's
not fool-proof - if I, with no relevant expertise, open it up and start
fisticating with its insides, then it will break.

A similar interpretation works for me in the original, too:

"a fail-proof diagnostic of any locale's risk level."

There's no way that anyone from outside can interfere with the working of
the diagnostic by not knowing what he's doing, thus making it fool-proof,
and I have no idea what could be done to make it fail as a diagnostic for
what it's intended to diagnose.
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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