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For a long time I have been using trustworthy as the adjective for of trust. However, I recently heard someone say trustable, and it piqued my interest. Apparently it is a word on Merriam-Webster as well.

So which is the correct usage of the adjective form of trust?

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    Neither is the more 'correct' form. Trustable, however, sounds odd to my ears and is by far the less common: books.google.com/ngrams/… – Anonym Mar 17 '15 at 18:05
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    Sometimes, different variants of say adjectives carry different senses (eg integral / integritous). But I can't see that being the case here. Use the one 99% of people use, and be nice to the other 1%. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 17 '15 at 18:10
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While it is true that trustable does appear in many dictionaries (and therefore may be safely considered a "real" word; whatever that means), trustworthy is the more common choice by far.

Trustable has recently seen an increase in use, but it is clearly nothing close to the use of trustworthy. Trustworthy is certainly the more common option.

In terms of meaning, there does not appear to be any substantial difference.

  • 1
    In the computing context, components which might otherwise be labelled trustworthy are usually identified as trusted (adjectival use of past tense verb form).. – FumbleFingers Mar 17 '15 at 18:40
  • @FumbleFingers Agreed, any circumstances in which I would prefer trustable over trusted would be strange indeed. I'll probably just delete that part of the answer. – apsillers Mar 17 '15 at 18:43
  • Even with upswing since 2000, trustworthy is more common than trustable by a factor of 150. – Bob Stein Dec 23 '16 at 18:46
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Since there is no possibility of someone being trustworthy but NOT trustable or vice versa, it would seem that the words are synonymous

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If somebody or something ​is worthy of trust, then you may / will be able to trust them. The distinction suggested above for senator Whiplash is meaningless because trustworthy does not mean it/he,she,they is/are unconditionally 100% trustworthy ad infinitum for everything, unless explicitly stated. Neither is trustable elsewhere defined as only being used when someone/something has a defined limit of trustworthiness. A logical reason for the new word trustable to evolve could be that people do not use worthy in as widely as they would have say 100 years ago. Today you would mostly describe a person or product as trusted, reserving worthy for distinctions carrying honour (medal, knighthood, prize). When worthy is used as it were 100 years ago outside of that context it appears stuffy or pretentious today, (the worthy dog vs a trusted companion, worthy choice vs good/excellent choice).

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While often used as synonyms, it seems to me they are somewhat different. Trustable implies able to be trusted, and trustworthy implies worthy of trust. Being trustable doesn't necessarily imply trustworthy, and vice versa. The adjective you use should depend on what concept you are using.

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Because English is so flexible, we are understood if we amend a word with affixes, verb a noun, or otherwise change or add words to our lexicon. "Trustable," though, sounds clunky and is a word an English learner would use. If it sticks, and "trustworthy" does as well, they'll be synonyms and each will acquire its own connotation.

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One shade of distinction, trustworthy emphasises a general quality of the object of trust.

Doctor Feelgood is trustworthy. Everyone loves him.

But trustable emphasizes the subject of trust, and may be more useful when one specific party can trust more than another.

Congressman Whiplash is trustable by his donors. I'm not so sure he's trustable by his constituents, staff, or spouse.

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Being trustworthy and being trustable are different. Being worthy of one's trust could imply a case by case basis where you may have earned a rating of being trustworthy by one but not necessarily another. Trustable is more related to your general character. They would be close enough in definition to be considered synonyms.

protected by MetaEd Jan 8 at 15:56

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