How the words Foolproof and foolscap have come ?
The definition says "error, misuse or failure,'' which indicates how "foolproof'' can have different connotations. When it first appeared in the very early 1900s the focus was on "fool.''
Here's the definition in a 1909 dictionary, when the word was still just a babe: "proof even against the ignorant or meddlesome handling of fools; secure against accidents even in the hands of a stupid person; said of machinery.'' It may have been first used of those new-fangled machines, automobiles. In any case, we see comments like this, from a British newspaper writer in 1904: "The car is so 'simple' that my daughters drive it - 'fool-proof' the Americans call it.''
That emphasis on the person's degree of control shifted subtly sometime in the first half of the 20th century, with more focus on the infallibility of a me ...more