When an operation fails silently, i.e. without providing a notification that it failed, is that operation a silent fail, or a silent failure?


Given a variable x that stores the value 1, when we try to assign a different value to it:

x = 2 

then the outcome of that operation can be:

  1. a success (the new value was successfully assigned; the value of x is 2),
  2. a silent fail/failure (the assignment failed silently; the value of x is still 1),
  3. an exception (the assignment failed and an exception was thrown).

My question is about word choice. I'm not sure which of these two terms is correct, or if both are correct, which is more suitable.

Also, if you know a better phrase for this (for outcome 2), I'd love to hear it.

  • Dictionaries generally include definitions and examples of correct usage of words, and in order that we don't waste time reproducing that, it would be very helpful to state what you found and why that is inadequate. As it stands, your question is General Reference. – Andrew Leach Oct 3 '12 at 11:36
  • @AndrewLeach: I think we get so many of these. I don't think we would see any decline in the number of similar questions until that other site is launched. – Noah Oct 3 '12 at 11:51
  • I think this is a term of art, and hence off-topic – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 3 '12 at 14:36

The short answer is that either choice is correct, but you'll probably catch less flak for using "silent failure."

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