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eat +‎ -able (able, capable)


eatable (comparative more eatable, superlative most eatable)

  1. Able to be eaten; edible.
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Chapter XIII
      The contents of the pan began to boil, and he turned to plunge his hand into the bowl; I conjectured that this preparation was probably for our supper, and, being hungry, I resolved it should be eatable;
    • 1891, Alfred Russel Wallace, Natural selection and tropical nature[1], page 399:
      When the seeds are larger, softer, and more eatable, they are protected by an excessively hard and stony covering, as in the plum and peach tribe ; or they are enclosed in a tough horny core, as with crabs and apples.
    • 1911, Baboon, article in Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition,
      Their diet includes practically everything eatable they can capture or kill.

Usage notes[edit]

Rather informal, due to simple analysis as eat + -able. edible is the usual term, and much more frequent – eatable may be considered as an error – while comestible is relatively formal.

More narrowly, used to mean “food that can be eaten, but is not of very high quality”.



Coordinate terms[edit]



eatable (plural eatables)

  1. (chiefly in the plural) Anything edible; food.
    • 1675, E. W., An Exact Relation of All the Late Revolutions in Messina, London, p. 2,[2]
      The Excise which is laid very high throughout all Sicily, especially upon all eatables and wearing apparel is usually there []
    • 1773, Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, London: F. Newbery, Act II, p. 18,[3]
      Ecod, your worship, I never have courage till I see the eatables and drinkables brought upo’ the table, and then I’m as bauld as a lion.
    • 1857, Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown’s School Days, Part I, Chapter 2,[4]
      [] the ground [] was already being occupied by the “cheap Jacks,” with their green-covered carts and marvellous assortment of wares; and the booths of more legitimate small traders, with their tempting arrays of fairings and eatables; and penny peep-shows and other shows, containing pink-eyed ladies, and dwarfs, and boa-constrictors, and wild Indians.
    • 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, London: L.C. Page & Co., Chapter 21, p. 222,[5]
      “You’ll be using the best tea-set, of course, Marilla,” she said. “Can I fix up the table with ferns and wild roses?”
      “I think that’s all nonsense,” sniffed Marilla. “In my opinion it’s the eatables that matter and not flummery decorations.”
    • 2011, “For kids’ sake, a long, cold wake,” Deccan Herald, 8 January, 2011,[6]
      The presence of a large number of people ensured that vendors selling eatables made brisk business.