Part of my work is the following sentence:

we limit the scope of this work to static, non-deformable and non-flexible objects.

However I wonder whether there is a difference between the words non-deformable and non-flexible. Or are they just unambiguous synonyms?

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    What field of knowledge are you dealing with? What have you found in the dictionary, and why didn't it help? Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


Deformable means that the shape of something can be changed into something else. For example, in topology, a coffee cup can be deformed into a torus. Note the Wikipedia article refers to this deformation as a homeomorphism. A torus cannot be deformed into a sphere, hence they are not homeomorphic.

Flexible means that a substance can be bent, for example an arm joint, or the handle on a briefcase. It would not be correct to say that a briefcase handle is deformable or that a dancer is deformable.

Definitions for deformable and flexible.

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    Flexible usually suggest the object can easily return to its original shape or position. Also, a briefcase handle made of plastic is deformable if you apply heat (and other materials might also be deformed). Similarly a dancer can be seriously injured and might be described as deformed, although the term would probably be considered insensitive.
    – bib
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:19
  • Really? So you want to talk about melting a briefcase handle as a counter argument? In that case, everything is flexible and deformable if you apply fire, extreme force, or have it sucked into a black hole. Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:24
  • To some degree, yes. Usually deformable is modified, as in easily deformable with hand pressure or deformable when gently heated. I think the term would probably not be used to describe a complete change in state (solid to liquid) or substantial destruction (explosive force).
    – bib
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 16:32
  • @Rathony I saw the duplicates you listed for the past perfect question. In my opinion, I don't think the questions would have helped the OP. Also, I did vote to close and move to ELL. I think it would be valuable to open a general discussion on duplicates in Meta because I see many people tag questions as duplicates but the listed duplicates aren't really duplicates. You would not be mentioned if I did open a meta on how to properly identify duplicates. Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 18:05
  • I didn't close it for duplicates and I didn't list them as duplicates. They are not duplicates. The question is too much basic for EL&U. That's all. I don't mind leaving my comment trails as I am not one of moderators' best friends. but I deleted them. Judging whether any question is a duplicate is one thing and judging whether a question has any research/context is another. ELL is there for that kind of question. Judging whether it belongs to ELU or ELL is as much critical as judging whether it is a duplicate.
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 18:08

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