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I realised today that I use the terms divisible and dividable interchangeably, even though there may be a difference between them.

If they are in fact different, I'm interested in any general rule that might apply to a large case of similarly related terms as well.

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Garner defines "dividable" as a NEEDLESS variant of "divisible". –  user19148 Oct 8 '12 at 16:02
    
@Carlo_R., so there's no semantic difference at all? –  Drew Noakes Oct 8 '12 at 16:05
    
Yes, there is no difference at all. –  user19148 Oct 8 '12 at 16:06
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Besides divisible/dividable, other such pairs include: admissible/admittable, corrosible/corrodable, defensible/defendable, derisible/deridable, discussible/discutable, divisible/dividable, evasible/evadable, expansible/expandable, explosible/explodable, invasible/invadable, offensible/offendable, persuasible/persuadable, protrusible/protrudable, remissible/remittable, reprehensible/reprehendable, transmissible/transmittable. Beyond those, you also have such things as dissoluble/dissolvable. –  tchrist Oct 8 '12 at 16:21
    
@tchrist, two quibbles: discutable is French but not English; offensible (“(obsolete) That may give offense”) is not parallel to offendable (“Capable of being offended”). –  jwpat7 Oct 8 '12 at 18:07
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In common usage there may be little or no difference in meaning; but in mathematical writing, divisible has an accepted usage not held by dividable. Oxford Dictionary gives “Mathematics (of a number) containing another number a number of times without a remainder: 24 is divisible by 4” as sense 2 of divisible. Sometimes redundant wording like evenly divisible is used, and I suppose evenly dividable could be used, but it isn't.

I don't know of a general rule. Incidentally, as seen via links in google books, dividable is a word respectable enough to use, in spite of suffering some disrespect, as in following: enter image description here

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Use dividable only if you want to appear strange... GoogleFight:

enter image description here

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