The word agreeable is used to describe a character trait of people who "easily agree" on things, e. g. people who rarely insist in their own opinion. In the form of agreeableness, it is also used in psychology as one of the big five personality traits. People with high agreeableness are often altruistic, people with low agreeableness may be perceived as selfish.

One specific example, where I most often heard the word being used, is in the context of salaray negotiation, where agreeable people accept lower salaries more easily than disagreeable people. The words agreeable and agreeableness are used in the same context, e. g. in this article.

How does it make sense that someone who easily agrees (e. g. to a lower wage, avoiding the conflict of demanding more) is agreeable? To me the word clearly sounds like "it is easy to agree with that person", not "the person will easily agree with me".

(I recently heared another word that follows the same "logic", however I cannot remember it now. Maybe if someone can think of it or other words and point them out, the problem becomes clearer. It was another word where the person was described as [something]able in a context that suggested the person is able to do or be something.)

To me it would make more sense if the word agreeing would be used instead, because from my experience, adjectives with the ending ...able describe subjects or objects with which something can be done.

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    Agreeable, to this old fart, means likable. – Mari-Lou A Mar 12 '18 at 11:00
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    I agree with Mari-Lou. That does not make me agreeable. – TimLymington Mar 12 '18 at 11:09
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    @Mari-LouA What do you mean by "to this old fart"? – Raimund Krämer Mar 12 '18 at 11:18
  • Is there something wrong with the question? It is interesting that likable may be a valid synonym, but it doesn't seem like the meaning I refered to. The meaning I described is "altruistic" or "empathic", which seems like the (logical, not semantic) opposite, i. e. someone who cares about others and their views, independent from whether these others like that person. – Raimund Krämer Mar 12 '18 at 11:22
  • It is a disparaging self-deprecating comment about myself. The elderly, especially those who have a poor diet and lead sedentary lives, are known to fart (break wind) a lot. – Mari-Lou A Mar 12 '18 at 11:23

agreeable adjective

  1. Quite enjoyable and pleasurable; pleasant.
    ‘a cheerful and agreeable companion’
  2. [predicative] Willing to agree to something.
    ‘they were agreeable to its publication’
    - ODO

You can use agreeable to describe someone (definition 1) or their stance about a particular course of action (definition 2).

Describing a person as agreeable (definition 1) has nothing to do with whether they agree or even tend to agree to anything in particular. It is more helpful to say that the person 'agrees with' (doesn't violate) the sensibilities of others - i.e. that others would consider them 'nice'.

You ask:

How does it make sense that someone who easily agrees is agreeable?

It doesn't, except to the extent that if someone tends to agree with you (definition 2), you may be more likely to consider them to be 'nice' (definition 1). However, that confuses definitions 1 and 2 quoted above.

  • Regarding definition 2: How does it make sense here? If they were agreeable, don't you say that they agreed? – Raimund Krämer Mar 12 '18 at 12:19
  • @RaimundKrämer Definition 2 provides the 'agrees with' sense of agreeable. You can shorten "they were agreeable to the proposal" to just "they were agreeable", but that produces an ambiguous statement. If the shorter statement is interpreted with definition 1, it no longer carries the sense of the longer statement. My answer asserts that the two definitions carry very different senses. They might be easy to mix up, but it would be a mistake to do so. – Lawrence Mar 12 '18 at 12:23
  • I understand the different meanings, but where does the "able" come from? Why were they not just agreeing? Does it imply that they are given the ability to agree? – Raimund Krämer Mar 12 '18 at 12:31
  • Verb and adjective forms are often different. If you want to use an adjective, you would usually use the adjective form rather than the verb form. E.g.: he inflated (verb) the ball. The ball was inflatable (adj). You can also say that the ball was inflated (verb), but that's not the same as saying that it is inflatable. – Lawrence Mar 12 '18 at 12:32
  • That is a good example. When I hear "the ball was inflatable", I expect that I (or someone) can inflate it. But if I am inflating the ball, am I inflatable to the ball, similar to definition 2 above? I think my main concern might come from the relation betwenn ...able and able to ..., the former being somewhat "passive" and the latter "active" in the sense of expressing possibilites. – Raimund Krämer Mar 12 '18 at 12:40

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