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I googled it and even though it's been used on the Web, I can't find any entries for it on online dictionaries.

If it's not a real word, then is there a good equivalent?

The context is a record where new items can be added but existing items cannot be edited.

A good example would be the minutes of a meeting, where you can add new entries, but not change entries that have already been entered.

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8 Answers 8

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In cases where one wishes to negate a word whose "un" form is not standard, I prefer a hyphenated "non-" prefix, and would regard the usage as being the closest thing to a standard way of indicating the explicit opposite of a term. For example, an article about digital filters described the difference between linear and non-linear filters as being comparable to the difference between kangaroo biology and non-kangaroo biology. Even though the compound word "non-kangaroo" might never have been used anywhere previously, it clearly expresses its meaning, and a reader would be unlikely to worry about whether "non-kangaroo" was a "real word".

Additionally, in choosing between "non-redactable" and "unredactable", I would regard the former as clearly describing an inability to redact information, while the latter might be parsed as "unredact-able", meaning "able to unredact". The latter usage might make sense if one wanted a surveillance target to think he had destroyed information even though the information was, in fact, recoverable, but would not seem a good way to describe information which was conspicuously incapable of being redacted in the first place.

All that having been said, unless you are designing a versioning database which allows one to edit the "current" version of something but will maintain a journal of all edits, I think the term "append-only" might be more suitable.

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try immutable

Not mutable; not capable or susceptible of change; not subject to mutation; unchangeable; invariable; unalterable.

of course, the word invariable as a synonym is also there :)

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  • In my opinion, the words you provided are too general for this context.
    – Alenanno
    Apr 28, 2011 at 18:54
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    @Alenanno - The OP's question mentions "a record where new items can be added but existing items cannot be edited"; that sounds like a data-processing context to me. "Mutable" is precisely the word that many computer languages (I'm looking at YOU, Python!) use to describe a variable with this property.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 5, 2011 at 23:47
  • @Alenanno In my opinion, the comment you provided IS too general for this context. ;) haha Jun 6, 2011 at 13:57
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I would say "unalterable", but there's nothing wrong with "unredactable". If it has seen a noticeable amount of use, but isn't in the dictionaries, all that means is that the dictionaries haven't caught up with it yet.

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  • 1
    Right. Bear in mind that dictionaries generally won't list all possible forms of a word, only the most common. Otherwise, the Rs under "re-" and the U's under "un-" would be rather longish. Often, we need to append special-case suffixes and prefixes to form nonce coinages, as with "unredactable." All I'd expect Merriam-Websters to list would be redact, redacted, and perhaps redaction. For any other needed form, we're probably on our own.
    – The Raven
    Apr 28, 2011 at 15:52
  • @Raven, @Colin Fine: Check my answer. Unless Google Ngram Viewer is not working properly, unredactable basically doesn't exist.
    – Alenanno
    Apr 28, 2011 at 18:55
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    @Alenanno: Let's keep in mind what Ngram Viewer is for, and what it's not useful for. It has its place in the scheme of things, but it is not an arbiter of nonce coinages.
    – The Raven
    Apr 29, 2011 at 0:03
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    @The Raven: It tells about the word usage in those years among the books, what's wrong in that? Plus, consider I couldn't find unredactable among the main dictionaries (OED, NOAD, OALD). If they haven't it, there's a reason.
    – Alenanno
    Apr 29, 2011 at 7:26
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    I don't think that "unredactable" is appropriate for the meaning the question asks about, though I would have no problem using the word to describe, e.g., material which is required to be released without being censored. "Unalterable" is much more appropriate here.
    – Charles
    Dec 16, 2011 at 0:15
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A possible word for this would be "unexpurgatable." But I see nothing wrong with "unredactable." It would be a specialized use, obviously, for things that are normally subject to redaction.

Back when general fiction was subject to official censorship, special "unexpurgated" editions were occasionally available (e.g., the works of Henry Miller). So the word has general provenance.

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It doesn't appear in the dictionaries and the Google Ngram Viewer gives 0% about its use; so no, it's not a word (or at least not a mentioned one in dictionaries... Although it fits the English morphology rules).

I'd propose "unmodifiable", if you want a single word.

I was thinking "uneditable" at first but it's used for next to nothing. "Unredactable" is basically never used.

See here: Uneditable is blue, unmodifiable is red, unredactable is green.

enter image description here

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  • Make sure you're defining the word 'redact' properly. I would say unmodifiable and unredactable have different meanings. Unredactable would be something you can't take back or redact for the purposes of submission/publication for example. Whereas unmodifiable would be something you can't change once you've submitted. Something could be both unredactable and unmodifiable. But something could be unmodifiable but still be redactable. And in turn, Something unredactable may still be modifiable. So you see they're not always equatable
    – dope
    Apr 5, 2021 at 22:34
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Alternatives (though I like a few other other suggestions, too):

  • permanent
  • constant
  • fixed
  • set — "Edits are set in stone."
  • secure
  • static
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If you’re interested in phrases that have the same meaning, how about “cast in concrete”?  It expresses the idea of something that is straightforward to establish upon creation, but difficult to modify thereafter.

Computer geeks might recognize the acronym WORM, which stands for “write once, read multiple”.  This was used to describe the paradigm of writing to an optical disc (CD or DVD) back in the day before re-writable media were available.

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My instinct would be irredactible, just to stick with the original main word, though this is rejected as a legit word as well. Linguistically speaking, isn't it what sounds best to the native speaker that is "most" correct in a certain sense?

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  • Not in the context of coining a new word. Bear in mind that there are a billion or so native speakers: what's needed is something logical. Jun 11, 2011 at 22:46

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