I am not native English speaker, and I just saw this sentence written in a sealed box:

"Tamper evident opening"

Is that sentence correct?

I mean, I think it means "If you tamper with this seal, it will be evident that the box has been opened". But, I think also that following the English grammar, it would say "If you open the box, and it is evident you did so, try to tamper it so nobody realized it".

Wouldn't the correct way be "Tampering evidents opening"?

  • It's a weasly alternative to tamper-proof packaging. Suppliers were presumably worried that someone might sue them because a product was tampered with, even if this should have been perfectly obvious to the purchaser/user. – FumbleFingers Sep 19 '11 at 15:28
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    @Fumble: It is also more accurate. Those seals never did prevent tampering, they simple made it much harder to tamper with the contents undetected. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Sep 19 '11 at 17:42
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    @dmckee: That is my point. I think tamper-proof was originally more common, and more easily understood. So I don't think the new wording is really about keeping consumers better-informed - it's about suppliers protecting themselves from lawsuits if unobservant users fail to notice the obvious signs of tampering which would always have been meant by either label. – FumbleFingers Sep 19 '11 at 17:50
  • Note that "Tampering evidents opening" would not be a correct way to state this, or really anything – evidents is not a word, and the phrase as a whole makes no sense. – Marthaª Oct 10 '11 at 19:44
  • @vtortola: I think the rephrasing you're thinking of would be Tampering evidences opening. Where to evidence something is a relatively uncommon verb usage meaning to demonstrate the truth of some fact or act. – FumbleFingers Oct 27 '11 at 4:01

It is not a correct sentence, it is simply a label. It is indicating that "opening" the package is "tamper evident" (which, as you correctly understood it to mean, means that if someone were to tamper with the product or package, it would be noticable). This is commonly used in medication packaging to ensure that the product is in fact what it is supposed to be, and has not been replaced with something else or altered in any way.

Aside from boxes, this concept is also applied to bottles in a couple different ways, one of which involves an airtight seal with either lower pressure or no air inside the bottle, so the cap makes a "pop" noise when it is opened. This keeps the contents fresh (or, in the case of soda or beer, keeps it from going flat).

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  • Ditto Jim's answer. Don't expect a "label" statement like that to be a complete, grammatically-correct sentence. Yes, sometimes such statements can be technically ambiguous, but usually you know what is meant. People often get amusement from newspaper headlines that unintentionally have a double meaning. One of my favorites was "Iraq Head Seeks Arms". The intended meaning was that the leader of Iraq was attempting to acquire weapons, but it sounds like its saying that a disembodied head is looking for other body parts. – Jay Sep 19 '11 at 14:14

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