I see a question virtually identical to mine that has been active for 3 yrs, and 3 mos., and may be closed, but received no satisfactory answer. Here is the situation: Someone submitting an expense report for these types of items such as replaceable knife blades, hacksaw blades, drill bits, replaceable screw driver bits, and the like, and needs to describe them with a one word adjective. Some of the answers get close (disposable, consumable, perishable), but none specifically addresses the wear and tear component. I'm sure such a word exists in other languages, but I have yet to see a satisfactory one in English.

2 Answers 2


Consumable is the usual word. It differs from perishable and disposible because perishable items (like fresh fruit) deteriorate whether they are used or not and disposable items (like examination gloves and cleaning cloths) are discarded after use because they are contaminated rather than because they are worn out.

Consumable items, however, wear out (ie are consumed) by use and last longer the less they are used. A hacksaw blade might wear out in a few minutes if it's used a lot or it might last for years if it's kept in a shed and used occasionally. Similarly a ream of printer paper will last a long time if used rarely.

This does not prevent items being all of consumable, perishable and disposible under the right circumstances but consumable is the word that would fit your requirement. It is the word which is used for anything which wears out with use and cannot be repaired, the fact that it is also used for items which are actually consumed (like food and fuel) does not make it the wrong word for items which wear out.

Other languages may have a slightly more specific word but I don't believe that English does. This is common when comparing different languages, think of the French 'combien' and the German 'wieviel' which are pretty much exact translations of each other but both translate to either 'how much' or 'how many' in English depending on whether the subject of the question is a count or non-count noun.


I'd call them 'consumables' personally. None of those examples can be reused so they're no different from, say, printer cartridges, biros, razor blades. Well I guess you can sharpen a knife blade but then why would he need to claim for replacements?

From Investopedia: "Consumables are goods used by individuals and businesses that are used up or wear out and require regular replacement."

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