A friend and I were discussing Apple earbuds. I said that the cables used to be coated with smooth plastic, but on the newer ones, the coating is closer to rubber, so the cables get tangled up easily.

I wanted to say, "I don't like the new, frictive cables." The only problem being that "frictive" isn't a word.

I've searched the OED and thesaurus.com, but haven't come up with a good word meaning "pertaining to friction" or "having the property of offering friction when rubbed." Does anyone have any ideas?

  • I’d call them low-grip and high-grip, perhaps. – G Tony Jacobs Nov 9 '17 at 17:34
  • Why not rubbery? – jxh Nov 10 '17 at 1:10
  • @jxh Because "rubbery", to me, is more about an object's consistency or the way it bends and stretches, than how its surface grips: I'd say fried squid or raw chicken breasts are rubbery, though quite slick. – arensb Nov 10 '17 at 14:57

In the engineering company where I used to work, we'd probably have said grippier, or that the old ones were slippery.

Frictional means pertaining to friction, but in the sense of forces rather than material properties

You could also say you preferred the low-friction version to be high-friction.

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    I'm a landscape Architect, in regard to paving I am used to talking about surfaces being either 'grippier' or 'slip resistant', 'grippier' I'd use in conversation, but in correspondence or documentation I would talk about a 'higher level of slip resistance'.. – Spagirl Nov 9 '17 at 17:01
  • @Spagirl in between there's also "high-friction (surface)", which is what I'd probably use if "grippy" was too informal (but simple clarity wins over formality in much of what I write, like instructions). – Chris H Nov 9 '17 at 17:22
  • Thanks! In this context, I like "grippier". It's a fun and readily understood word, like "stabby". – arensb Nov 9 '17 at 18:16

I searched OED for all the mentions of friction and found

  • frictive (obsolete; "obtained by friction")
  • frictionable (rare; "liable to undergo friction")
  • frictional ("of or pertaining to friction, moved or produced by friction")

Frictionable would appear to be the one you need, although frictional is likely to be better understood, even if it causes mechanical engineers to wince or roll their eyes.

frictionable, adj.

Liable to undergo friction.

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  • What about “fricative”, used in linguistics? – G Tony Jacobs Nov 9 '17 at 17:10
  • @GTonyJacobs It's in the list, but means sounded by friction, which doesn't apply here. – Andrew Leach Nov 9 '17 at 17:13
  • I thought of "fricative", but that's a term of art in linguistics. – arensb Nov 9 '17 at 18:11
  • @AndrewLeach Thanks for looking this up. I thought I had checked the OED, but I guess I was wrong. The difference between "frictionable" and "frictional" seems to be akin to the difference between "flammable" and "inflammable" ("capable of burning" vs. "capable of catching fire". I don't remember which is which). For that reason I have a slight preference for "frictional", but I can be swayed. – arensb Nov 9 '17 at 18:13
  • @Arens Frictional means "of friction," so you could have a frictional force (a force generated by friction); frictionable means "able to be frictioned on", for want of a better phrase. – Andrew Leach Nov 9 '17 at 19:08

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