As the title states, if sound is audible, light is visible, what is a smell? And what is an object when you touch it?

6 Answers 6


Smell is olfactible

Touch is tangible

  • 26
    Tangible is very common, and touchable, hearable, seeable are possible, though less common, in special contexts. Olfactable is very rare, though it may exist in dictionaries; I think most people, if they reached for a single word (with no pejoration like stink, reek, smell), would say "smellable". The sense verbs don't have all possible terms available. Aug 12, 2013 at 15:31
  • 1
    Tangible is correct, but it's often used to discuss the concreteness of a concept or feeling. Consider describing a nanobot sitting on the tip of your finger. Is it "barely tangible" or "barely tactile"? Tangible might carry two meanings: (1) beyond your ability to perceive such a magnificent creation, (2) beyond your ability to perceive it through touch. Tactile is more clear in this case. //////// I like olfactible if you're cornered into you using it. "She stuck her nose even deeper into the blossoms insisting that beauty is always olfactible." Haha, maybe. Aug 12, 2013 at 20:15
  • I would have said "smelly".
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 4, 2015 at 12:30

Things capable of being seen are visible, things capable of being heard are audible, things capable of being touched are tangible or palpable, things capable of being smelled are odorous, things capable of being tasted are gustable.

Gustable is rarely used and primarily in technical settings. The concept is most often expressed as "tastable" when we reach for the concept in common usage. Because of the "-ible" "-able" endings of the other sensate adjectives, "odorous" is an unexpected form but a perfectly correct expression of the concept (though today most of us are more likely to use "malodorous" to describe a bad smell than to use the word "odorous" itself).

Some prefer "palpable" to "tangible" for things capable of being touched because tangible has slipped into being a synonym for the more general and inclusive "sensible", particularly in the use of the word in the practice of law.


Another option to Frank H's answer would be

Touch: tactile

Smell: fragrant / pungent / fetid (depends on experience)


'Smellable' is a legitimate, though perhaps not a very euphonious adjective. Other alternatives are 'aromatic' and 'odoriferous'.

'Palpable' is the most germane one for touch.


See - Visible/(Seeable*)

Hear - Audible/(Hearable*)

Smell - Olfactible (used very rare)/Smellable

Taste - Edible (for food)/Potable (for water)/(Tastable*)

Touch - Tangible/Palpable/Tactile/(Touchable*)

*Note: They can be used but word on the first column (except for olfactible) are commonly used, but smellable is rather used than olfactible


Remember that some things are tastable or edible.

I would also think that some poorly-defined proprioceptive feelings, like earthquake phenomena, are sensible (in the generic)

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