I thought only edible was correct, even Google suggested edible when I did a search to see which one was more popular on the internet:

  • Edible: 17.2 million
  • Eatable: 2.2 million

The first results are from dictionaries, the meaning being "that can be eaten".

What's the difference between them?

5 Answers 5


I think eatable is more often used to mean palatable.

eatable sample usage

Whereas edible is more often used in relation to plants etc that are not poisonous.

edible sample usage

But there is an overlap.

(I learnt the sample usage trick from Anthony Quinn)

  • 4
    +1 for the sample usage H9D 1477 alone. :-D
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 8:39
  • Both 'eatable' and 'edible' fall under "damning with faint praise": I certainly wouldn't appreciate hearing my cooking described with either word.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Nov 16, 2010 at 18:26
  • Your answer does not provide any information which could not be found with a quick dictionary search. Same with the rest of the answers on this page.
    – andrew
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 4:45
  • Well, in contrary to RegDwigнt's +1, I would give -1 for providing examples using links only. The links are broken now and do not work. Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:49

I always assumed it's like the difference between "readable" and "legible". The former is a measure of how comfortable it is to read (e.g. short lines are more readable than long lines), and the latter simply whether it can be read at all, or not.

As cindi says, like the difference between palatable and not poisonous.


In 'Crocodile Dundee', the ingenue looks at some 'bush tucker' and asks "Is it really edible?", to which the hero replies "Well, you can live on it ...but it tastes like shit." Good example of something edible but not eatable - unless you're really hungry, which brings the two closer together.


Edible-Something that , anyone can eat. It is not poisionus and safe to consume. Like-milk,sugar,egg,floar etc

Eatable-Something that you can eat but can't enjoy. Like- make a batter of milk,sugar,egg & floar.It is safe to eat as we make cake out of it, but never enjoyable.

Ex- This red one is not an 'edible' berry . Ex- This cake she made , is not at all 'eatable' due to heavy salt.

  • Welcome to ELU.SE.This site strives to provide objective answers. Take the site tour or have a look at the help center to find out more about good answers. As it stands your answer is purely subjective.
    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 9:17
  • 'make a batter of milk,sugar,egg & floar.It is safe to eat as we make cake out of it, but never enjoyable.' You've never licked the mixing spoon or eaten cookie dough then?
    – Spagirl
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 10:38
  • If I recall correctly, Gordon Korman's 1980 novel Who is Bugs Potter included a restaurateur whose success came from selling unbaked cake batter as a dessert.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 15:06

The SOED gives one definition of eatable as an adjective: "food in a state to be eaten". That definition does not seem to me to carry any negative connotation; it refers to food, after all.

The SOED also gives a definition of the noun eatable as an item of food (usually in the plural). That usage does not necessarily carry any negative connotation. I have certainly heard 'eatables' used to denote food that was entirely delicious.

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