Undeletable can either mean "cannot be deleted" or "can be undeleted."

Undoable can either mean "cannot be done" or "can be undone."

Unacceptable can either mean "cannot be accepted" or "can be unaccepted (as an answer on Stack Exchange)"

How do I avoid ambiguity with "un-verb-able" words?

  • 2
    Normally the meaning is understandable through context. Also, normally verbs of this form are understood to have the meaning, which you first list in your examples (i.e. "cannot be ...").
    – Geshode
    Jun 20, 2018 at 6:47
  • The homonym 'undoable' can either be from the verb 'to undo' (in which case the homonym means the act of undoing can be performed) or it can be a negative of the verb 'to do' (in which case the homonym means the act of doing cannot be performed). As with all homonyms, context tells us which applies and there ought not (if people are competent in English) to be any ambiguity.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 20, 2018 at 11:23

2 Answers 2


In the case of the word undeletable, none of the main English dictionaries seem to have an entry for it. (Or at least for the adjective.)

But this is what's provided by Your Dictionary:

(computing) That cannot be deleted; indelible.
(computing) That can be undeleted.

Like any other use of English, ambiguity needs to be resolved through context or a rephrasing of the sentence.

Nobody can remove that file; it is undeletable.

Here, the only logical interpretation is "cannot be deleted."

Thankfully, if you delete that file, it is undeletable.

Here, the only logical interpretation is "can be undeleted."


It is undeleteable.

This sentence (which I'll assume is ambiguous) would need to be rephrased in one of two ways.

It cannot be deleted.
If deleted, it can be recovered.

In other words, don't use the word if using it would result in confusion.


Undeletable is never understood to mean "that which can be undeleted" -- this usage is a departure found in the computing field only. There is neither ambiguity nor conflict in general English usage.

  • @JasonBassford I am trying to get help to understand what really you are trying to say here. Btw I surmise you are a non-native speaker of the English language.
    – Kris
    Jun 20, 2018 at 8:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.