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

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Aug 21 02:51:35 UTC 2015

I'm with Wilson, here -- always the best place to be.

Fool-proof: can't be fucked up, by nobody
Fail-proof: can't break or malfunction  -- if this word hasn't existed
before it came into existence (if you follow me), then it is an example of
language change that I can approve of.


On Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 9:37 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> 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

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

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