Which preposition should be used with 'robust'?
I want to say e.g.:

This material is robust against/to (??) environmental influence.

Is there, if robust is not the right word in this context, an alternative to say that (e.g. stable (to/against)?)

  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the sample sentence is non-idiomatic. Materials are not normally said to be robust; and robust doesn't collocate with influence. – Phil Sweet Dec 22 '16 at 20:10
  • @PhilSweet I did not know that. Indeed, there are several languages where the word robust has this meaning in conjunction with a certain preposition. – black Dec 22 '16 at 20:12
  • As far as innate properties go - resistant to, impervious to, or unsuseptable to. If this is an engineered material, you could have hardened against, protected against, etc. But I would use "withstands environmental influence". – Phil Sweet Dec 22 '16 at 20:38
  • Assuming this is related to engineering, durable would be the more common word choice. For example, "..is highly durable and resistant to the elements". – Luke Briggs Dec 22 '16 at 21:42
  • 1
    @black Right ok; in which case it would depend on surrounding context, i.e. if this is part of a conclusion then rephrasing into something of the form is weakly affected by external factors/ environmental influence and is therefore robust may be more suitable. – Luke Briggs Dec 22 '16 at 22:03

I do not recall ever seeing robust used in quite that way, and a quick search through the many different senses of the word in the OED did not reveal any use of robust with a preposition.

The word, originating from the French robuste has been around in English since at least the fourteenth century. But a few recent examples quoted of its use when speaking of material objects are as follows;

1882 Macmillan's Mag. Apr. 430/2 The room in which they found themselves, though clean, and neatly furnished with robust oaken furniture, bore symptoms of unwonted disorder.

1946 V. N. Wood Metall. Materials i. 36 (heading) The whole is encased in a robust steel shell.

1961 P. J. Bhatt Fund. Servo Control Engin. 58 Magnetic amplifiers and transducers are static robust units which can be conveniently mounted (e.g., astride the driving motor).

1988 Jrnl. Navigation 41 330 The compass..was a simple, robust instrument with a large steering prism.

2007 Trail Feb. 76/3 This robust accessory keeps my four mugs-worth of water piping for nine hours.

The point is that robust is not a word which conveys much other than strength. What you need to do is to express in what sense it is strong against environmental influences. This could be; this material is robustly resistant to environmental influences, but it could equally well be that this material is robustly enhancing of environmental influences - perhaps a trifle unlikely, but I feel sure that examples could be conjured where the word robust could act as a qualifier for two entirely opposite reasons.

The point I am making is that robust against, without a further adjective is a rather limp expression.

  • 2
    There is always tomorrow, Mari-Lou. Happy Christmas xx – WS2 Dec 22 '16 at 18:02
  • 1
    I will return! Merry Christmas WS2 – Mari-Lou A Dec 22 '16 at 18:03
  • When an adjective is used to modify a noun, a preposition is impossible in any circumstance. The OP is using 'robust' not as a noun modifier but as a predicate. In a predicate like "The system is robust ____ failure of 2 out of three air conditioning units". – Mitch Dec 22 '16 at 18:30
  • @Mitch What is that saying? Do you mean the system is operationally robust following failure of 2 of the 3 air conditioning units? – WS2 Dec 22 '16 at 22:54
  • @WS2 The underscore is where the expected preposition goes. The OP is asking which preposition, 'to' or 'against'. – Mitch Dec 23 '16 at 0:45

A great resource open to you for looking at the frequency of words or phrases is Google Ngram Viewer.
This Ngrams analysis answers the question quite well:

enter image description here

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.