Inaccessible is more common, but it seems that unaccessible is sometime used in the same places and it is listed in some online dictionaries.

  • Could you add the dictionary references you have found? – marcellothearcane Aug 5 at 13:28
  • Purely a personal opinion, but to the extent that unaccessible could reasonably be used at all (and I might just spell it unaccessable anyway), I'd restrict it to IT-oriented data retrieval. That's to say, information you can't access, rather than the more common sense of place you can't get to. – FumbleFingers Aug 5 at 13:46
  • 1
    Are you asking why some words are less common than others? I don't think anybody can answer that. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 5 at 15:02
  • The other day I was discussing "accessible" with another editor and noted that "handicapped-accessible" is often clipped to "accessible," and I asked whether people 50 or 100 years from now will read that and wonder what an accessible rest room was vs. an inaccessible one. – Literalman Aug 5 at 17:21
  • Context is everything! The word choice may seem obvious from a logical reasoning standpoint. Inaccessible can imply that the object is difficult or next to impossible for anyone to access such as the deepest depth of the ocean called Challenger Deep. A way to look at inaccessible as closed off to public. It is not impossible or too difficult for authorized persons to get access to the same place such a a live crime scene that is taped off. Only special people can get in. If you are not special or authorized you have no access to that place. I would say there is a noticeable difference. – Logikal Aug 6 at 14:35

Though listed in some dictionaries, unaccessible appears to be just an uncommon variant of inaccessible as suggested by Google Books .

Note that:

Un- is the most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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