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I thought only edible was correct, even Google suggested edible when I did a search to see which one was more popular on the internet:

  • Edible: 17.2 million
  • Eatable: 2.2 million

The first results are from dictionaries, the meaning being "that can be eaten".

What's the difference between them?

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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think eatable is more often used to mean palatable.

eatable sample usage

Whereas edible is more often used in relation to plants etc that are not poisonous.

edible sample usage

But there is an overlap.

(I learnt the sample usage trick from Anthony Quinn)

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3  
+1 for the sample usage H9D 1477 alone. :-D –  RegDwigнt Oct 6 '10 at 8:39
    
Thanks for the credit :-) –  Antony Quinn Oct 6 '10 at 9:24
    
Both 'eatable' and 'edible' fall under "damning with faint praise": I certainly wouldn't appreciate hearing my cooking described with either word. –  Marthaª Nov 16 '10 at 18:26
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I always assumed it's like the difference between "readable" and "legible". The former is a measure of how comfortable it is to read (e.g. short lines are more readable than long lines), and the latter simply whether it can be read at all, or not.

As cindi says, like the difference between palatable and not poisonous.

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In 'Crocodile Dundee', the ingenue looks at some 'bush tucker' and asks "Is it really edible?", to which the hero replies "Well, you can live on it ...but it tastes like shit." Good example of something edible but not eatable - unless you're really hungry, which brings the two closer together.

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