-able

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See also: able

English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-able

  1. An adjectival suffix; forms adjectives meaning:
    1. able to be done; fit to be done.
      movable: able to be moved
      amendable: able to be amended
      breakable: liable to broken
      blamable: fit to be blamed
      salable: fit to be sold
    2. relevant to or suitable to, in accordance with.
      fashionable: relevant to fashion
      seasonable: suitable to season
    3. giving, or inclined to.
      pleasurable: giving pleasure
      peaceable: inclined to peace
    4. subject to.
      reportable: subject to be reported
      taxable: subject to be taxed
    5. due to be.
      payable: due to pay
Usage notes[edit]
  • Originally used only on French and Latin words, like separable. Over time -able was added to stems of English verbs ending in -ate, such as educable. Finally, due to probable confusion with the word able, it was used to form adjectives from all sorts of verbs, nouns, and even verb phrases, such as kickable, get-at-able, and clubbable.
  • While a terminal silent -e is usually dropped when adding a suffix beginning with a vowel, which is followed by -able, the -e is not dropped when adding -able if the root ends with a soft -ce and -ge, as in replaceable and changeable, so that these are not misinterpreted as hard ‘c’ or ‘g’ sounds. This same rule is used for -ous, as in courageous.
  • As when adding the suffix -ed, a final consonant of a root should be doubled if the preceding vowel is short and (in British English) stressed.
  • The form -ible has the same senses and pronunciation. The choice between the two is somewhat idiosyncratic, but in general, -ible is used in forms derived from Latin verbs of the second, third, and fourth conjugations, and in a few words whose roots end in a soft c or g, while -able is used in all other such words, particularly those formed from Latin verbs of the first conjugation and those that come from French or from Anglo-Saxon (Old English). Fowler's English Usage recommends using -ible for simplicity's sake in any word whose root ends in a soft c or g to avoid -eable (e.g., *changible rather than changeable), but this recommendation has generally not been followed.
  • A number of adjectives in -able come from verbs that do not have direct objects, but that rather are construed with prepositions. In these cases, the preposition does not appear with the adjective in -able; hence, reliable (fit to being relied on), laughable (suited for laughing at), remarkable (fit to be remarked upon), and so on.
  • Traditionally, verbs ending in -ate drop this suffix before adding -able; hence, communicable (able to be communicated), eradicable (possible to eradicate), implacable (unable to be placated), inimitable (unable to imitated), and so on, but relatable, because relate is re- + -late, not rel- + -ate.
  • There are cases where a word with un- -able is much more common than one with just -able, such as unbreakable, unsinkable, and untouchable.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-able

  1. An instrumental suffix; forms nouns representing:
    1. a tool or instrument.
      fable
      table
      vocable
    2. a place or location
      conciliable
      incunable
      stable
Usage notes[edit]
  • This use of -able its related form -ible are not productive in English. Confusion may arise from mistaking nouns ending with these suffixes as being forms derived from the adjectival suffixes mentioned in Etymology 1 above.
Derived terms[edit]

Catalan[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin -ābilis.

Pronunciation[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-able m, f (masculine and feminine plural -ables)

  1. -able

Usage notes[edit]

This suffix is used for verbs of the first conjugation, which end in -ar and are the most common. For other verbs, the suffix is -ible.

Derived terms[edit]


French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Old French, from Latin -ābilis.

Pronunciation[edit]

Suffix[edit]

-able (plural -ables)

  1. -able

Middle French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Old French, from Latin -ābilis.

Suffix[edit]

-able (plural -ables)

  1. -able

Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Latin -ābilis.

Suffix[edit]

-able (plural -ables)

  1. worthy of, deserving of
    honnorable (honorable)
  2. -ing, creating an effect, an influence
    forsenable (maddening)

Descendants[edit]


Spanish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Latin -ābilis.

Suffix[edit]

-able (plural -ables)

  1. -able