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eat +‎ -able (able, capable)


eatable (comparative more eatable, superlative most eatable)

  1. Able to be eaten; edible.
    • 1845 October – 1846 June, Ellis Bell [pseudonym; Emily Brontë], Wuthering Heights: A Novel, volume XIII, London: Thomas Cautley Newby, publisher, [], published December 1847, OCLC 156123328:
      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, and sometimes proscribed by authorities. edible is the usual term, and much more frequent, 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.