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Is there a word that means "capable of being made brighter"? A word that means capable of being made stronger or more intense would work too. Brightenable would be perfect if it didn't provoke as much laughter as understanding. Intensifiable is about the best I can come up with.

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Well asked! (And the world can always use more laughter. ;) –  John Y Mar 30 '12 at 22:06
    
Google shows a few hits for the word "brightenable," with most of the mentions related to patents. So perhaps in technical fields it's not a laughable term. Can you divulge the sentence you're working on? –  JLG Mar 30 '12 at 22:35
    
The reason you probably won't get a "definitive" answer is simply that if any actual thing is capable of being made brighter, its maximum brightness is probably a significant part of the specification. We assume a dimmable light is capable of being dimmed so low it emits no light at all, but we buy it on the basis of the maximum. You wouldn't sell many "brightenable" bulbs unless you specified the maximum brightness - in which case you might as well describe it as "dimmable", same as everyone else. –  FumbleFingers Mar 30 '12 at 23:18
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@JLG: Something like "Is that bulb brightenable?" to ask if it's already at its maximum brightness, just as "dimmable" would ask if it can be made less bright. –  David Schwartz Mar 30 '12 at 23:20
    
@David Schwartz: I don't know... in that context it doesn't sound right. But all I can come up with (using your best word) is: "Is the luminosity of that bulb intensifiable?" It's what you're asking, but it sounds technical. –  JLG Mar 31 '12 at 16:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If it can be made brighter, perhaps it is attenuated?

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That suggests only that something else is brighter than it is. –  David Schwartz Mar 30 '12 at 23:11
    
Actually, now that I think about it, that might work. People might well understand it to mean at its maximum brightness. Of course, if it's not, it can be made brighter. –  David Schwartz Mar 31 '12 at 20:03

Although it's not directly relevant, you could use the word augmentable, to imply an increase in strength. Alternatively, you could consider illuminable, with a stronger reference to illumination.

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Yes, illuminable ("that can be illuminated or made lighter") definitely means capable of being made brighter; good suggestion. +1 –  jwpat7 Mar 31 '12 at 0:16
    
The problem with illuminable is that people will probably understand it mean capable of emitting light, not capable of emitting more light than it is now. Every lit bulb is illuminable, not every lit bulb can be made brighter. –  David Schwartz Mar 31 '12 at 6:44

"Variable intensity" is the customary phrase for describing a device that can be adjusted to be brighter or less bright, as suitable to the occasion.

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