I was wondering if there exists a correct English word for "the ability to delete something"?

The phrases I want to use this word in are:

Toggle the option "that enables the object to be deleted."

Toggle the "ability to delete" this file collection."

My first thought is "Deletability". But I'm unsure this is an correct word in English

Toggle the deletability option of the object.

Toggle the deletability of the file collection.

Is "deletability" a correct word? If not what would be an appropriate word?

EDIT: added another phrase where i wanted to use "deletability" since the laste example was not so clear.

  • 2
    I'm imagining a checkbox. In which case I would have a concise label such as: "[ x ] Allow deletion".
    – BadHorsie
    May 6, 2015 at 10:23
  • 9
    I would use "deletable" for the option name. Or "Allow deletion" is good, a Bad Horse suggests.
    – Hot Licks
    May 6, 2015 at 11:53
  • 4
    Your title asks for a different thing than your actual question. The ability to delete something is not the same as the ability to be deleted! The ability to delete something would more likely be a property of a user or user role (admin).
    – oerkelens
    May 7, 2015 at 8:21
  • @oerkelens It appears you are correct. My question should reflect the ability of an object to be deleted. Since I'm not a native English speaker, nuances like this are often overlooked. Can I still change the question title to reflect this?
    – TempaC
    May 7, 2015 at 8:26
  • Sure, the current answers seem to focus on the to be deleted option, so editing your title would not invalidate them. It certainly improves the quality of the question if title and question ask for the same thing — but it seems Brian beat you to it :)
    – oerkelens
    May 7, 2015 at 9:01

10 Answers 10


The base English word you are looking for is "delible". However, it is not commonly used. You are best off with a different form as suggested in other answers.

  • 11
    An order of magnitude more English speakers will have heard the antonym, indelible, and that's still not commonly used.
    – Ben Voigt
    May 6, 2015 at 18:18
  • 1
    This already existing word might be the one I need. It prevents me from possibly making up a word. The fact that it's not commonly used should not prevent it being used in my opinion.
    – TempaC
    May 7, 2015 at 8:30
  • 3
    @TempaC: your user testing will cover this anyway, but the problem with "delible" isn't just that it's rarely used (which I agree in itself doesn't matter much), it's that it'll rarely be understood. However, this being ELL rather than UX, a clever word that readers will need to look up in a dictionary is a perfectly reasonable answer :-) May 7, 2015 at 9:45
  • 4
    Oh, and while you might well be able to rephrase to use this, you've requested a noun and "delible" is an adjective. If used as a noun it will mean "something that can be deleted", not "the ability of something to be deleted". Good luck with "delibility" in UX testing. May 7, 2015 at 9:48

A usable interface should not require to describe the actual action, because the action itself is obvious from the interface element: a radio button, check box, or any graphical toggle element, so a clear message may look:

Enable delete option: On/Off

The word 'enable' implies toggling.

Example from Oracle Documentation Manually Enabling Delete Confirmation

This section describes how to enable Delete Confirmation, or add or edit the custom confirmation message, if you have an existing table.

Another option is to use 'removable':

The element is removable: On/Off

Also a good convention (in console/command line interfaces) is putting a simple question:

Enable deletion? Yes/No

  • 1
    'Enable delete option' sounds wrong to me.
    – bjb568
    May 6, 2015 at 19:11
  • @bjb568 - It is not wrong and it is widely used, see "How to enable delete option on master slide layout" on pcreview.co.uk/threads/… and 27000 other Google results for "enable delete option" (with quotes to search for the phrase)
    – Oleksii
    May 7, 2015 at 0:23
  • There's 49 million results for 'enable deletion option'…
    – bjb568
    May 7, 2015 at 0:32
  • @bjb568 - I included an example from official oracle documentation.
    – Oleksii
    May 7, 2015 at 0:42
  • +1 for removable. I believe that's the word the OP is looking for.
    – kevin
    May 7, 2015 at 14:44

No. Deletability is morphologically fine and understandable in context, but it is not an established term (0 hits in COCA, 0 hits in BNC, 0 hits in OneLook) and you run the risk of sounding comical or helpless.

I can think of no other words that would fit the bill.

But all that is beside the point. The option to be toggled already is labeled or called something, and that is the label you must be using. This is techical documentation, not poetry. Refer to things by their actual names.

Toggle the option "[the actual name of the option]".

If the option is actually called deletability, then go ahead and write "Toggle the option 'deletability'". But if it's not called that, then don't rephrase just for the sake of calling it something it's not called.

  • 8
    Actually, in a software context there is a real possibility the option is for a so far unspecified or unnamed entity, or is a global option applying to many options. From a design perspective, it can also look clumsy or verbose where everything is explicitly described.
    – BadHorsie
    May 6, 2015 at 10:21
  • Why did you delete my post? Are you mad because I left the above comment on your post in the early life of this thread? Talk about abuse of power.
    – BadHorsie
    May 8, 2015 at 15:01

You also might turn the property around. "Deletability", while understandable, sounds a bit awkward. However, objects that cannot be deleted are often referred to in the computer sciences as "Protected", so you might consider toggling "Protection" or "Deletion Protection" (or sometimes "Write Protection" for files) on or off instead.


Permission is a common notion used in software world. You can use something like 'Delete Permission', or you can rephrase the sentence to

Toggle the delete permission on the object


Toggle permission to delete object


10 seconds in Dictionary.app produced deletable. that word beside a checkbox will be completely clear to anyone even reasonably fluent in English


Remove|Removable. Erase|Erasable. Delete|Deletable.

Though 'Allow deletion' may be preferred aesthetically in a GUI styled toward artists/humanists (?).

Stay consistent.


"Allow delete option" sounds meta, as in it allows someone to allow someone else to delete it, since there are two words that basically imply a granting of permission.

tldr: "permit X" and "permit permitting of X" are not synonyms.


How about

Toggle the delete option ?


Allow delete option ?


Allow option to delete object?


object deletable?


Guarded or Protected, if toggled off, would indicate that the object is now subject to annihilation.

  • 1
    So your answer is "subject to annihilation"?
    – Chenmunka
    May 28, 2015 at 8:16
  • This whole website is subject to annihilation! May 29, 2015 at 16:33

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