Suppose that I can infer that x is an X, given a statement y. Thus, the statement y affects the ability to infer that something is an X. I would like a word that sums up "the ability to infer". It seems like "inferentiability" would be the word, but I can't seem to find it in any dictionaries. Is this a "real" word, or is there something like it that is more common?

e.g. "A detailed study of the relationship between height and weight would improve our ability to infer someone's height, given their weight" == "A detailed study of the relationship between height and weight improves the inferentiability of height, given weight"

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    What's wrong with the accepted usage? Nov 3, 2017 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Inferentiability is a step too far! There is the word inferable, meaning "being able to be inferred". And it is quite usual to extend -able adjectives to be -ability nouns.

So I suggest you should use inferability. While it's not in the dictionary, it is an intuitive extension of inferable, so noöne will have trouble understanding you.

This would improve the inferability of someone's height, given their weight.

To give a little weight to my answer, here are some examples of inferability in the wild:

  • To regard sentence-tokens as the entities which enter into inferability relationships would be to regard questions about inferability as arising anew for each utterance of a given set of sentence tokens.
    — Gary Iseminger (1968), Introduction to Deductive Logic, New York: Appleton Century-Corfts Education Division.

  • At first there is natural temptation to suppose that such a gradation must vary with the varying inferability of the hypothesis from the experimental data.
    — Theo A. F. Kuipers (Ed.) (1987), What is Closer-to-the-truth?: A Parade of Approaches to Truthlikeness, Amsterdam: Rodopi.

  • In (82) above, this inferring is done by virtue of the referent belonging to the same scenario as some other, previously mentioned, referent, but, as we will see later on, inferability can be of a different nature.
    — Ronald Geluykens (1994), The Pragmatics of Discourse Anaphora in English: Evidence from Conversational Repair, Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

  • 'While it's not in the dictionary' answers defeat the purpose of ELU. The 'U' stands for (established) usage. Nov 3, 2017 at 23:22
  • Usage of suffixes outside of their recorded uses is perfectly in scope, so long as it's justified Nov 3, 2017 at 23:39
  • How on earth can it be justified if there are no recorded uses? As has been stated before, productivity is gradable. ELU looks at established usage; until a candidate appears in a dictionary, calling it a word is mischievous. Nov 4, 2017 at 0:50
  • @MattE.Эллен Try including a few of the thousands of examples of inferability found in scholarly works. Weird that dictionaries don't have an entry on it. It's actually a topic of study itself.
    – Phil Sweet
    Nov 4, 2017 at 0:50
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    Ah. // Even if a candidate word has been used in reasonably respectable articles, until it appears in a recognised dictionary, whether or not it should be used (and note that OP does not suggest any specialised register) must remain at best POB. Nov 4, 2017 at 1:44

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