13

In Spain, we normally use a saying when something always works well, although you try to break this one. The saying is "bomb proof".

I would like to know a similar saying in English.

For example:

I make a program and this passes all the tests that you try and you invent. I could say "This is a bomb proof program".

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    We use that and bullet proof. – StoneyB Apr 12 '18 at 11:03
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    @StoneyB - And sometimes idiot proof, if we are talking about the ability to withstand inept users. – J.R. Apr 12 '18 at 11:24
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    @J.R. True, but in my experience that one's chimerical. As Schiller said, "Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain." – StoneyB Apr 12 '18 at 11:37
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    Create software and make software are equally common in all the corpora I have available. The problem in the OP's example isn't make, it's using software as a count noun. – snailcar Apr 12 '18 at 13:08
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    "bomb proof" has a specialized usage for people who work with horses, a horse who is "bomb proof" is so calm that he wouldn't be scared even if a bomb blew up right next to him--but it doesn't have anything to do with the horse not breaking in other (possibly literal) ways. We would use "bullet proof" for a horse who was immune to harm. – user3067860 Apr 12 '18 at 15:26
42

As pointed out in comments, Anglophones use bullet proof as well as bomb proof. Also note that regardless of whether the usage is literal or metaphoric, we usually write the more common bulletproof as a single word, but bomb-proof is more likely to be hyphenated.

But OP is primarily asking about metaphoric usages. On that front, there's no doubt at all that bulletproof is far more common...

a bulletproof argument - 280 hits in Google Books
a bullet-proof argument - 85 hits (including 2-word versions without hyphen)
a bombproof argument - 2 hits
a bomb proof argument - 2 hits


Another extremely common metaphoric usage (for arguments, at least), is...

a watertight argument - 1920 hits

Focusing more specifically on OP's context, it's probably worth noting that Google Books claims 41 instances of a bulletproof program, but there are only 2 hits for a bombproof program.


One more point relating to the XXXX-proof construction is that bullet-proof in particular can have a far more general metaphoric meaning than non-native speakers might expect. Consider, for example,...

1: He's bombproof. (relatively uncommon; 87 hits in Google Books)
2: He's bulletproof. (962 hits)

...where (ignoring a few possible literal contexts), #1 would always imply that metaphorical "bombs / missiles" cannot harm him. But #2 is also often used to mean He is reliable, He will not let you / us / someone else down (i.e. - asserting that others can rest easy, rather than the subject himself).

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    I felt like airtight was much more common than watertight, though checking in with Google ngram, it's only been since about 1985 that airtight has dominated. – Canadian Yankee Apr 12 '18 at 13:24
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    @Canadian: Charting just the words airtight and watertight doesn't necessarily tell us much, since we've no idea which instances are metaphoric. But since I vastly prefer watertight metaphorically coupled to argument, I checked that specifically. It seems both Brits and older people are on my side of that fence/pond! :) – FumbleFingers Apr 12 '18 at 13:45
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    That's a good point. Switching to AmE in your search shows a definite preference for airtight, so this must be one of those transpondian differences in usage. – Canadian Yankee Apr 12 '18 at 13:54
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    Another pretty common word that could work in some contexts is foolproof. – Alex Shpilkin Apr 12 '18 at 23:15
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    We say an argument holds water; I don't think I've ever heard it said that an argument holds air. – Anton Sherwood Apr 12 '18 at 23:56
28

"Fool proof" is popular in the USA, at least in the northeast.

Like, not even a fool could break it. It's fool proof.

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    "Idiot proof" is the variant that sprang to my mind. :-) – G. Ann - SonarSource Team Apr 12 '18 at 17:38
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    Fool proof (which is sometimes written as foolproof) is also common in Britain. – Jules Apr 12 '18 at 20:00
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    "Foolproof" is probably the most widely-used, everyday (not business jargon or field-specific) idiom for this concept. Note that not everyone will understand exactly where this term comes from, though; I realized last week that one of my children thought the expression was "full proof". – 1006a Apr 13 '18 at 14:23
  • I think foolproof has different connotations. A foolproof program prevents you from doing inadvertently silly, but might still crash under unusual conditions (e.g., the network connection disappears). A bomb-proof program would handle those conditions gracefully ("Connection disappeared? No problem--start saving the changes locally while we reconnect"), but still might let idiots do dumb things. – Matt Krause Apr 13 '18 at 19:38
  • Fool proof, for me, is hard to mess up. Not even a fool would have trouble using it. Bullet proof, means it hard to attack, hard to break. Fool proof aligns with easy of use, where as bullet proof suggests robustness. – GC_ Apr 13 '18 at 21:07
22

For software, you could use bulletproof if you wanted to emphasize how the system won't crash, or idiot-proof if you wanted to emphasize the strength of the user interfaces. However, it might be better to use one of the more commonly-used English adjectives in the industry: robust.

Wikipedia says:

Robustness is the ability of a computer system to cope with errors during execution and cope with erroneous input. Robust programming is a style of programming that focuses on handling unexpected termination and unexpected actions.

One website says that robust software "does not break down easily or is not wholly affected by a single application failure."

In your paragraph, you could say:

This software is robust.

It's not quite an idiom – but it might be the term you want.

A more general term (one that could be used for both software and, say, an automobile or a washing mashine) would be reliable.

17

The other answers are quite good, but to give some more choices, I'll add rock solid.

Unlikely to change, fail, or collapse.

Example from IBM:

The only path to secure software is to use established, rock-solid cryptographic algorithms.

Another example:

RME products are a nice step up and have a rock solid track record that rivals the Digidesign interface lineup.

As a comparison to another answer,

a rock solid argument - 436 hits in Google Books

  • I actually think this is better than the accepted and higher voted answers, as it better reflects the meaning of the original expression that the question references. The other answers get caught in the literal translation of the phrase. – Kevin Apr 13 '18 at 15:45
-5
  • a bug-proof program
  • a hacker-proof program

hacker-proof

bug-proof

Of course, there are also metaphors as given by others answering this question. Mine are only for software. The others can be used elsewhere.

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    Bug-free is more common than bug-proof in this context of software development. – RubioRic Apr 13 '18 at 7:02
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    "we are discussing terms for proof, not free"> No, we are not, we are discussing equivalent terms for 'bomb-proof', and 'bug-free' would be closer in meaning than 'bug-proof' is. Of course, neither of them are ways in which you should describe your software if you don't want to get sued when one of your users inevitably finds that there are bugs... – Sean Burton Apr 13 '18 at 12:54
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    @Lambie - There you go again, saying "no" when you mean "few". We feel our bulletproof software .. and transparency make us the best-in-class player in the EHR marketplace (1) Beyond introducing our bulletproof software and unparalleled support services... (2) Our bulletproof software applications are simple and easy to use! (3) – J.R. Apr 13 '18 at 13:49
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    @J.R. No, I mean that I would never use it. The CEO of Lauvers Business Systems does use that in a sentence on linkedin. It describes software for cash registers. Fine. I would never (me) ever use it. And that is just about the only one, I could find. There is, however, a company called BulletProof Software. That is a good name for software company. – Lambie Apr 13 '18 at 14:32
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    Unfortunately, "no software advertising is going to say bullet-proof" is not the same thing as, "I would never use the phrase bullet-proof" or "I would not advise using bullet-proof". – J.R. Apr 13 '18 at 19:16

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