Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a difference between unlikeable and dislikeable? It feels like there is, but I'm uncertain how to explain it.

share|improve this question
1  
The same as the difference between any un-word and dis-word. There is no special significance to likeable in relation to the use of the un- and dis- prefixes. –  Kris Jan 20 '12 at 12:39
1  
@Kris and what is that general difference? –  TrojanName Jan 20 '12 at 12:52
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Assume there are three states of fondness for something.

  • Like
  • Neither like nor dislike
  • Dislike

Disliking something is not the same as not liking something. If I don't like peas, I will eat them with no pleasure. If I dislike peas, I will actually find them nasty.

So, dislikeable is something that's easy to dislike.

Unlikeable is something that's difficult to like.

share|improve this answer
    
My interpretation. unlikeable ... you cannot fall into the first group, "like". dislikeable ... it is possible to fall into the last group, "dislike", but perhaps also possible to fall into the other two groups, instead. –  GEdgar Jan 20 '12 at 14:53
    
@slim thanks for the answer. It's useful to point out that 'dislike' is not the same thing as "not like". However, to me the word unlikeable implies that something is impossible to like, not merely difficult. –  TrojanName Jan 20 '12 at 17:59
add comment

According to the definitions of unlikeable:

Adj. 1. unlikeable - (of characters in literature or drama) tending to evoke antipathetic feelings; "all the characters were peculiarly unsympathetic" 2. unlikeable - difficult or impossible to like; "a disagreeable and unlikable old woman"

and dislikeable:-

Definition: easy to dislike

the difference would appear to be that an unlikeable thing is something you don't or can't like, and a dislikeable thing is something you could quite easily not like (but that you have no particular aversion to at the moment).

share|improve this answer
    
thanks Brian, but sorry it's still a bit unclear to me. On one hand, we have "difficult to like" and on the other "easy to dislike"! –  TrojanName Jan 20 '12 at 13:08
    
@BrianFenton, I think slim has put what I was trying to say, rather better. –  Brian Hooper Jan 20 '12 at 14:01
add comment

At first glance, it seems pretty straightforward. Unlikeable - 'Not likeable' (Not necessarily negative, just straddling the fence. Infrequent usage) Dislikeable - 'easily hated' or 'easily vilified'

Unless you mean the new 'unlike'-able, which is a sad result of the FB culture and not a real word.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks but I don't fully agree with you. Unlikeable to me is a strongly negative term, implying impossibility of liking. –  TrojanName Jan 20 '12 at 17:59
add comment

protected by RegDwigнt Mar 11 '13 at 14:18

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.