Imagine you have some operation like inserting data into a database. This operation can succeed or fail. What do you call the result of such operation?

My candidates:

  • Fallible operation result (primary suspect)
  • Failable operation result

Is there another, better way to express this?

  • 4
    Why is it not just a result?
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 23, 2017 at 17:14
  • Note that "failure" could simply mean the insert does not occur, it could mean that an "exception" is signaled, it could mean that the database is corrupted, or it could mean that the Air Force Space Command receives invalid data, resulting in Armageddon.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 23, 2017 at 18:27
  • @AndrewLeach First, result is too general. Second, I want to use the word for operations, in which errors are much more likely to occur than in other parts. I want to stress that a particular operation has a higher probability of malfunction than most of my code. Aug 23, 2017 at 18:35
  • @AndrewLeach I think hit the nail on the head. If you don't like result maybe look at terminology at en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HTTP_status_codes rather than reinventing the wheel.
    – k1eran
    Aug 24, 2017 at 0:32
  • And a higher probability or malfunction seems vague and likely to change : the user code need to handle errors/exceptions whether it's 1% or 50% of the times.
    – k1eran
    Aug 24, 2017 at 0:34

3 Answers 3


'potentially fallible result' or 'potentially fallible output', i.e. there is a possibility (given by 'potentially') that the output (given by 'result') could fail with regard to your requirements (given by 'fallible'). This gives you equal chance that the operation could fail or succeed.

  • @DP_ I've just seen the comment that you want to stress that a particular operation has a higher probability of malfunction than most of my code (it came out after I wrote this answer). In that case, failure-prone is more appropriate. 'potentially fallible' just says that the result could be wrong, not that the operation is more likely to malfunction.
    – Nworb
    Aug 24, 2017 at 10:44
  • At least, I'm assuming that's why this answer has been downvoted.
    – Nworb
    Aug 24, 2017 at 10:46

Uncertain result or failure-prone result.


The intention I expect with a data insertion is the same as a surgical operation. You are hoping, planning for a success. You are not preparing for a random result. The words for it would be Result or Outcome with their outcome described as Success or Failure.

If you really don't know what could happen (see Schrodinger's cat) the process could be described as a "Toss-up" or "Crap Shoot" with references to coin flipping or dice throwing.

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