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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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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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  • I'd say yes, but caveat it with: the right context is needed, for people to understand you. Since language evolves, it seems that this can be used and people will understand you. It's especially useful in software development where a requirement could be defined by: "User Interface is Disableable" in that, based on some condition, it renders differently. Sep 22 '20 at 18:02
  • Yes, perhaps it would be better to say that this user interface is capable being disabled, but the above is for the sake of brevity. It's odd and stilted but I've come across this situation where it explains what I want. Related: "This should be a togglable feature", in that perhaps a web app should have a toggle for dark mode enabled by default, as another example. Sep 22 '20 at 18:02
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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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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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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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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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I like "defeatable" (+1). But here are some other choices:

Controllable

Interruptable

Preventable

Subdueable

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. May 6 '15 at 21:43

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