I'm looking for a single word that can describe a container object as having the ability to be in a state of emptiness.

The first word that springs to mind is "emptiable", but that implies an ability to change the state, rather than the possibility of "empty" being a state at all.

I'm looking for a word that describes that possibility. What do you call something that may or may not be empty?

I've been dancing around the word "void", but that seems to have the same issues (see "voidable").

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    Is there any chance you could give us a bit more context? I'm having a tough time differentiating between something being able to be emptied (which would imply that an empty state is possible) vs. something able to be empty. (The only difference I can discern is that that perhaps it can be empty, but once it contains something it cannot be emptied...
    – Dusty
    Mar 7, 2011 at 16:05
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    If this was SO or a number of other SE sites, 'nullable' could be the answer :-)
    – Mark Hurd
    Mar 7, 2011 at 16:32
  • Null is neither empty nor filled. It is "unknown" Mar 7, 2011 at 16:48
  • Thanks for the answers guys, @Dusty you're correct, what I'm looking for is something that is able to be empty, not necessarily 'emptied'. To provide some context, imagine you find a lockbox, or a locked chest of some kind. You don't have the key so you cannot know what's inside, all you can know is that it's either in a state of emptiness, or not. It is... "possibly empty".
    – MattDavey
    Mar 8, 2011 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


Container isn't an adjective but it describes this concept perfectly well.

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    I was going to comment that container doesn't mean something that is never empty. I am not sure if the OP would accept container, but that seems the better word that can be used.
    – apaderno
    Mar 7, 2011 at 16:34
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    I agree. A container is something that can be empty, partially filled, or full. If it can't have those properties, it doesn't qualify as a container.
    – Robusto
    Mar 7, 2011 at 16:38
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    I agree this word does encapsulate the concept, but my problem with it is that it has extra implications that aren't relevent for my context (see my comment in OP).
    – MattDavey
    Mar 8, 2011 at 9:16
  • I think you'd have to explicitly say one way or the other for a reader to assume a container is full or empty. To not say leaves it to question. Even if we're talking about a lockbox in the example you provided, if the reader assumes there's some sort of treasure inside is completely fault of the reader as you didn't specify one way or the other. I stand by container as an answer.
    – Neil
    Mar 8, 2011 at 13:02
  • I think it's as good as we're going to get (marked as answer). As I said "container" does encapsulate the concept, more by convention and implicit understanding of what a container "is". But what is the property of a container that makes us realise it could be empty? The search for a better word continues :)
    – MattDavey
    Mar 8, 2011 at 16:44

Decantable, depletable, or exhaustible? Perhaps you can provide some context?

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