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I can't seem to find an adjective that describes something that can be disabled. I made up the word "disableable", but it surely sounds funny, and it's not even a real word.

It's for use in a software development context, where I want to be able to say something like:

"I want to create a disableable control and then I can toggle its disableability."

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marked as duplicate by tchrist, aedia λ, Kristina Lopez, FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Feb 20 '13 at 19:16

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Of course it is a “real” word: please read up on derivational morphology. – tchrist Feb 20 '13 at 16:01
@tchrist I disagree, just because you can define the morphology of a word, it doesn't make it a real word. For instance: renormalcificationlogy is not a real word, although you could morphologically decompose it. Anyways, the point of the question is to find an alternative, and you're taking it in a different direction. – Candide Feb 20 '13 at 16:10
@aedia: Well found! I agree it's a dup, since the question itself gives no meaningful context by which to differentiate it. – FumbleFingers Feb 20 '13 at 19:07
@Candide: If this question is about software development, please edit the question to indicate that. Terms like "enable" and "disable" are idiomatic to software development, so any alternatives need to be presented in that context rather than that of general language. – Adam Robinson Feb 20 '13 at 19:12

Hifi amplifiers are often described as having defeatable tone controls, meaning the tone control circuits can be disabled/bypassed to avoid generating unwanted "electrical noise" in the output.

That link is to 124,000 hits on Google, as compared to none at all for disableable tone controls (or disablable tone controls, which strikes me as an even worse spelling for a highly "iffy" word).

As it's now emerged that OP wants a term suitable for use in the context of on-screen software controls, I should add that disableable is probably the most suitable word anyway, since we commonly speak of disabling features in software.

But you still probably wouldn't speak of toggling the disableability of a disableable control, since unless you've got a very convoluted user interface, the control still has the attribute "capable of being toggled between enabled/disabled", regardless of whether it's currently enabled or not.

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I'm not sure how this answers my question. – Candide Feb 20 '13 at 15:53
@Candide: Er... by providing you with an alternative word, and giving evidence that it's well-used in a context where you might otherwise think of using disableable? You haven't said what exactly you have in mind that "can be disabled", but amplifier tone controls seem like a typical example to me. – FumbleFingers Feb 20 '13 at 16:39
I see. Actually, I do have a use case where it makes perfect sense. It just didn't sound right, that's I thought of seeking alternatives. Here's a terse sentence that actually makes perfect sense to my case: "I want to create a disableable control and then I can toggle its disableability." – Candide Feb 20 '13 at 17:06
@Candide You want a disabler disabler? How meta! – kojiro Feb 20 '13 at 18:30
Context is key here; it sounds as if @Candide is creating a software component, where the term "disable" is idiomatic; "defeat" is not. – Adam Robinson Feb 20 '13 at 18:50

disableable is in fact a real word meaning exactly what it sounds like - capable of being disabled (for all it does sound slightly funny)

You could also say that something is "capable of disablement" to the same effect.

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Is it really a really word? I tried looking it up at dictionary.com and webster.com but it didn't come up. The more I think about it, the issue seems to be with english verbs that end with abled. – Candide Feb 20 '13 at 15:52
@Candide Nobody takes that sort of “real-word” definition seriously, you realize, given that there are something like seventeen different reasons why it makes no sense. I’m not even sure productive derivational morphology heads that list of reasons, but it is surely sufficient to prove the whole notion to be pure nonsense. – tchrist Feb 20 '13 at 15:59
I went by en.wiktionary.org/wiki/disableable - googling the word returns plenty of results. By virtue of being widely used, it is at least in some sense a real word. – PhonicUK Feb 20 '13 at 16:07
@Candide do the search in quotes so that it doesn't break the word up. A search for "Disableable" including the quotes returns over 13K results, and even 20+ pages in it's still exactly the same word. – PhonicUK Feb 20 '13 at 16:17
@PhonicUK Good point! There do seem to be more usages out there. – Candide Feb 20 '13 at 17:00

Disablable is used, but it is rather ungainly. I might use optional in some cases; it doesn't directly speak of an ability to disable, but it certainly implies there is some way of not using the feature in question.

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While I don't see an entry in other dictionaries, Wiktionary does have an entry for disableable. Going by Google Search and Google Books, it does appear to be used in technical circles, albeit infrequently. In any case, if disableable is not kosher enough, it should be acceptable to hyphenate it as disable-able.

Depending on your use case, you can also consider alternatives such as switchable. I suspect that toggleable suffers from the same issues as disableable.

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It is such an interesting question, and I have tried to absorb the spirited discussion and suggestions thus engendered, several of which seem specialized to the point of jargon. Might I parrot, and offer up OP's phrase can be disabled as a simple, non-jargony phrase that would hopefully be understood by everyday people?

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Everybody is an everyday person. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 6 '13 at 13:51
Speak for yourself. :) – Shawn Mooney Mar 6 '13 at 13:56

I like "defeatable" (+1). But here are some other choices:





I would like to know if there are any words that don't have the "-able" of "-ible" suffix. I can't think of any.

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In contexts that are closer to computer hardware, and in some areas of software engineering too, maskable or inhibitable would also be understood. – rackandboneman May 6 '15 at 21:43

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