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I need to convey the idea "able to be assembled," but I'm limited on space so I neeed something shorter than this phrase. Would "assemblable" be correct? Do the grammar rules of English permit me to construct this word?

I've looked in some important dictionaries but it doesn't appear, which concerns me; it does appear in Wiktionary but I'm not sure of the credibility of this site.

  • There is an adjective "assembled". It occurs in adjectival passives such as The new recruits remained assembled outside the officers' mess for over an hour. But in your example it's a verb as part of the passive VP able to be assembled. – BillJ Feb 3 '17 at 11:47
  • Sorry, I think I've made a mistake and confused the group by using the term "adjective". I need to convey "able to be assembled". Am I able to construct a new word - "assemblable"? – Anthony Feb 3 '17 at 14:28
  • Depending on what is being assembled, "flatpack" could work. Especially for furniture. – user198750 Feb 3 '17 at 15:43
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    Not all allowable producible words are explicitly mentioned in dictionaries. At some point, cognitive performance and ease of production comes in. 'Assemblable' sounds only a little funny and should be acceptable. – Mitch Feb 3 '17 at 21:50
  • I'd be very careful about using a word that is not found in any dictionary, especially in formal writing! – BillJ Feb 4 '17 at 8:31
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English is a productive language and I don't see the problem with using assemblable which is not very common but is already used in technical texts:

  • That can be assembled.

-able:

  • a suffix meaning “capable of, susceptible of, fit for, tending to, given to,” associated in meaning with the word able, occurring in loanwords from Latin ( laudable); used in English as a highly productive suffix to form adjectives by addition to stems of any origin ( teachable; photographable). (Dictionary.com)

Usage examples:

Ngram: assemblable

From: Advances in Concurrent Engineering,

  • Value of the propose system for virtual manufacturing and assembly: allow designing of manufacturable and assemblable models using manufacturing and assembly knowledge.

From Building the Slope: California Hillside Houses:

  • Promotion of the Sequoyah house — a metal structure assemblable in four hours and designed for steep slopes — by United States Steel was featured in Arts & Architecture in 1957:
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Yes, but in my opinion, adding "-able" (two syllables) to "assemble" (3 syllables) gives a 5 syllable word. That is, no syllable is lost. The spelling "assemblable" suggest a pronunciation with only 4 syllables, which is not true to my own pronunciation, so (though admittedly it looks odd) I'd spell it "assembleable" or "assemble-able".

So, I think the problem with "assemblable" is a spelling problem. Perhaps one could compare similar forms, like tumble/tumble-able, shackle/shackle-able, staple/staple-able.

  • I think I would use the spelling "assemblable" and allow the "l" to stand for a syllable by itself, as it does in "assembling"--which we don't write as "assembleing" or "assemble-ing". – sumelic Dec 23 '17 at 8:10
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As an engineer with experience with companies such as Chrysler and General Electric, I've seen used and personally vouch for the use of the term "assemblable" and its specific variant "assemblability", to describe how easy it would be for a certain multi-component design to be assembled in the manufacturing environment. Whether an industrial or a consumer product, this manufacturing characteristic needs to be evaluated early on in the design process to avoid problems later in the development process. In order to convey and communicate this within the project team the Engineer or Project Manager needs to be able to use a term to identify it. I personally think it's time we add it to the dictionary and update all available spell checkers in the market.

  • Hello, Cisco; welcome to ELU and thanks for your input. The problem here is that ELU deals with standard usage, and dictionaries largely sample corpora and use descriptive rather than prescriptive methods. We used '1010 acid' in the lab where I did some vac work on antioxidants, but it can't be said to have made it into the English lexicon. It's too niche. There has to be an agreed level of usage before a candidate achieves wordness. / Please also note user66974's answer, which was furnished with checkable references. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 5 '18 at 23:02
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hi agree with CiscoRQ i'd like to take this a step further to discuss the concept of the "unassembleable".

Background In my work in a new type of library service where my colleagues and i engage ordinary people (and try to document) experimentation across the in arts, science, technology and enterprise, we often come up against the gaps in english. There are interesting issues with language when working across a range of technical disciplines. In this work we need language to keep pace with what we are doing conceptually to communicate with collaborators and move the work forward.

On a practical level "Assemblable" seems pretty legit use of grammar to me and so should be recognised. I'm no word nerd but making a compound word out of the verb "assemble" and the suffix "able" seems pretty simple to me and kind of what suffixes are made for. The common reflex in our lab/workshop when English can't deliver is to turn to the German/ Swede in the team. German (and Swedish) seem to be really good at stacking words together to communicate meaning. To me this reflex of looking to another language, signals a possible failure of english to adapt.

Assemblable The requirement for a word to describe the assemblability of a design is brought into sharp focus when a design can not be assembled. A Design that can not be assembled is a failed design.

The shared experience in my workplace is that there is the regular problem that can occur when designing a multicomponent object (especially in CAD applications) Its pretty impractical to design a component that can not be physically incorporated into - assembled - into a target assemblage.

It is an underlying requirement of component design process that "the design" (noun) needs to allow for the practicalities of the assembly process, especially in the design of components for a multi component assemblage. With regards to the application in a CAD application we are talking about mechanical or industrial design. But this also applies to the design processes (developing an practical solution to an identified application) in a range of disciplines - process design, even language (meta)

Yes this may all be argued to be niche application, but i dont think it's necessarily a niche use of the prefix "un" or suffix "able". These are stock stand uses of suffix/prefix and the rules for incorporating new concepts into mainstream use suck if I have to go to a different language to communicate this pretty simple idea.

  • Yes, fully agree with that. – Anthony Feb 12 '18 at 9:37
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Google's English-French dictionary recognises this word and translates it into itself. Not surprisingly, for a word with Latin and French roots.

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Maybe slightly not the answer you are looking for, but I'd simply use the word component or building block to indicate that something can be assembled.

component
A part or element of a larger whole, especially a part of a machine or vehicle:
‘an assembly plant for imported components’

building block
A basic unit from which something is built up:
‘sounds are the building blocks of language’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/component
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/building_block

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You're asking if the word 'assemblable' is in fact assemblable?

If you understand that sentence then yes, yes it is.

  • So, are you saying that any utterance or sequence of glyphs that is understood by at least one or two English speakers follows “the grammar rules of English”, whatever they are?  Me thinks elsewise. – Scott Dec 23 '17 at 8:04

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