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Is there a non-idiomatic word or phrase for "sanity check"?

(meaning a quick test of some system to see whether it is functioning properly)

marked as duplicate by Jason S, Glorfindel, user66974 May 7 '17 at 11:30

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  • 2
    "sanity test", "sanity check", and "smoke test" aren't idioms per se, they're technology metaphors turned jargon. Technology uses metaphors constantly, like "garbage collection," "split," "slice," "kill," etc. etc. – RaceYouAnytime May 1 '17 at 18:55
  • 'test' alone implies trying something out ... and it would take some "testing" to "validate" something and perhaps "extensive testing" to "certify" something ? "quick test" would emphasize that it wasn't a "careful test" – Tom22 May 2 '17 at 2:22
  • You could coin something, but it probably wouldn't be very pithy if you wanted it to be reasonably obvious in meaning. Maybe something like "quick feasibility check" (as opposed to a full feasibility study) or "plausibility check". Check out synonyms of feasibility for more options. I do think you'd want to stick with "check" rather than "test" or other similar terms if you want to imply a very brief, cursory examination. (You could also use "once-over" as in "viability once-over" but that sounds more idiomatic than "check" to me in this context.) – 1006a May 3 '17 at 16:44

Reasonableness check isn't a direct synonym but it's about as close as you're going to get.

There is a move in some circles to avoid sanity check along with other terms that could be interpreted as suggesting that mental health issues are inherently bad. Sanity check isn't widely used in the "quick test" sense in the question; in the technical fields I'm familiar with (hardware and software) it's more about thinking through an idea looking for flaws that would make further work a waste of time.


I would use the word validation. In engineering modeling, validation is a way of confirming that your model works well (i.e. it actually predicts reality).

Are sanity-checks necessarily quick? I never felt that phrase connoted quickness. Certainly, you could do a quick sanity check. But, you could also perform one that took a long time.

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