Word of the Day



made from a material that stops bullets from passing through

Origin and usage

The word bulletproof was first used in the early 1800s and originates from the Middle French ‘boulette’ meaning ‘small ball’ and the Latin ‘probare’, meaning to test or to prove. Bulletproof can mean both a material which literally stops bullets or it can refer more broadly to something thought to be indestructible.


Dr George E. Goodfellow is credited with publishing the first article on bulletproof or bullet-resistant materials after witnessing several cases where bullets were caught by silk handkerchiefs with no damage to the material. For this reason, gangsters were noted in the early 1900s to purchase expensive vests made from layers of silk as protection against gunshots. To this day artificial silk body armours continue to be researched, but bulletproof materials such as Kevlar or carbon fibre composite materials are used commonly by law enforcement services and the military.

The first official uses of the modern version of bulletproof vests began in the 1980s. For law enforcement, in particular, this development in body armour marked an important step forward as the number of officer deaths declined notably after bulletproof vests were adopted. Bulletproof materials can be rigid like steel or titanium, but they can also be supple, like silk or other tightly woven, lightweight materials. While the concept of body armour has a long history, the invention of bulletproof materials marks the first time that body protection suits were able to be made lighter and more wearable.


“There’s no flesh or blood within this cloak to kill. There’s only an idea. Ideas are bulletproof.”

(Alan Moore)

“I thought I was bulletproof or Superman there for a while. I thought I’d never run out of nerve. Never.”

(Evel Knievel)


foolproof, durable

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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