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Which spelling is correct, "updatable" or "updateable"?

For example, "The file is not updat(e)able."

By the way, I did go to Google and ref.dic.com for this first, and they both seem to indicate that both spellings are correct. If they are indeed both correct, which is more widely accepted?

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  • At the risk of being controversial, you just might want to consult a real dictionary about something like this. The OED gives only updatable, not the other one.
    – tchrist
    Jan 31, 2012 at 16:50
  • 3
    I haven't even seen a real dictionary since grade school xD Jan 31, 2012 at 17:26
  • 1
    This article was the first returned to me by a Bing search for "ubdateable" and the amount of interest that it has garnered surprised me a bit, and was very interesting. I wonder if the alternate spelling will eventually find its way into the OED. Apr 19, 2023 at 18:50

4 Answers 4

74

Google Ngrams shows that updatable is currently much more prevalent:

Updateable vs Updatable

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  • 7
    Of course, Ngram doesn't show the literacy of each group of people... I'd prefer to go with the literate, not the mass. Mar 7, 2018 at 6:23
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    @Bill Kotsias How do you decide who the literate are? What if there are significant differences in the usages among US / Australian writers? Between OUP and CUP? May 10, 2020 at 14:10
  • @EdwinAshworth the literate know who the literate are
    – caduceus
    Feb 10 at 8:23
  • @caduceus It's mainly the literate who engage in logomachy. Others happily just use language to communicate. Feb 10 at 16:21
  • @EdwinAshworth Blissful illiteracy-not really. How you spell indicates your attention to form and procedure. Have you been educated properly? Are you a sloppy person? Can you resist making arbitrary changes based on your own likes and dislikes? When you can pass on the language authentically without modifying it others are more likely to trust you'll do the same for words that could result in a change in meaning, or grammar, or numbers, and even whole facts. Its a slippery slope.
    – caduceus
    Feb 12 at 9:21
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You'll be in fine company either way. I looked thru some technical books online and found both widely benoted.

For me, updateable is the better choice but, as I said, either one is good.

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  • Yeah. As seen in the graph in @Gnawnme's answer, it is used quite a bit! Only half as much as updatable though. Jan 31, 2012 at 17:27
  • 26
    If yu look at an ngram comparing knowledgeable and knowledgable, yu'll get an even bigger gap yet both are acceptable spellings. I like updateable for two reasons: 1. upgrade > upgradeable therefore update > updateable 2. The a is ā (long), the 'e' keeps this ... updatable looks likes up-data-ble to me. We see this (e)able choice in lots of words. There's no right or wrong here ... only a preference
    – AnWulf
    Feb 1, 2012 at 3:27
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Updatable vs updateable:

Both of them are correct and acceptable.

Google Ngram shows that updatable is more prevalent than updateable.

enter image description here

However, the plausible answer would be: if the removal of final e from the base word changes the pronunciation of the preceding consonant, it's often incorrect and unacceptable but if its removal does not changes the pronunciation of the preceding consonant, it's usually correct and acceptable. (There are loads of exceptions, however.)

'T' gives the same sound /t/ before both 'a' and 'e', so it's OK to remove the final e from 'update' when it's suffixed. Updateable and updatable - both have /t/ sound (the removal of e does not change the pronunciation of the base word 'update') so both of them are correct and acceptable.

Explanation with examples:

1.

If the removal of final e changes the pronunciation of the preceding consonant, then the spelling without e is often incorrect and unacceptable.

Examples:

  1. Notice + able -> noticeable not noticable because the removal of final e changes the pronunciation of the preceding consonant (i.e. changes /s/ of 'notice' to /k/ -- 'c' often gives /s/ sound before e and gives /k/ sound before a).

0 results for 'noticable': enter image description here

  1. Manage + able -> manageable not managable because the removal of final e changes the pronunciation of the preceding consonant (i.e. changes /dʒ/ of 'manage' to /g/ -- 'g' often gives /dʒ/ before e and gives /g/ sound before a).

0 results for 'managable': enter image description here


2.

However, if the removal of final e does not change the pronunciation of the preceding consonant, both spellings (with and without e) are usually correct and acceptable.

Examples:

  1. Love + able -> loveable or lovable - both are correct and acceptable because 'v' gives the same sound /v/ before both 'a' and 'e'.

enter image description here

  1. Trade + able -> tradeable or tradable - both are correct and acceptable because 'd' gives the same sound /d/ before both 'a' and 'e'. (I've explained 'tradeable and tradable' in this question.)

enter image description here


However, words that end with '-seable' are not very common.

Examples: Usable and useable:

enter image description here

Confusable and confuseable:

enter image description here


Response to a comment by Edwin Ashworth:

Lots of research and reasonable analysis. However, your 'rule' allows for noteable as well as "notable_; Wiktionary labels this 'a common misspelling', and it does not appear in CED, M-W

This guideline is only for suffixed words (which have the suffix -able).

Notable is directly derived from Latin word 'notabilis'.

Notable: mid-14c., "worthy of note, important, praiseworthy," from Old French notable "well-known, notable, remarkable" (13c.), from Latin notabilis "noteworthy, extraordinary," from notare "to mark, note, make a note," from nota "mark, sign, means of recognition" — [Etymonline]

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  • Excellent explanation, thank you. Your "tradable / tradeable" example did bring up a question in my mind, though. The trailing "e" doesn't modify the "d", but it seems to modify the "a". I used to climb, and "trad" is slang for "traditional". "Tradable" then, in my mind, would indicate to me a climbing route could be done with "trad" gear. Hence my preference would be to lean to using only "tradeable" when modifying the word "trade". Simply my own preference, though; I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your assessment.
    – Duff
    Nov 22, 2023 at 15:42
2

enter image description here

Google gives 1,120,000 for "updatable"

enter image description here

Google gives 619,000 results for "updateable"

Both are adjectives and right. You can use both. "Updatable" is more common than "updateable".

I prefer updateable, because the E after the T indicates that the first A should be pronounced as [ei]. In some places the word data is pronounced [d?ta], so for them the spelling updatable might be confusing.

I think which form of that term you use depends on the context and its part of speech in the sentence. In the predicate, it’s smoother to say not updateable, as in “The program is not updateable.” However, when you need an adjective before a noun, I have no problem with non-updateable in a technical context — Source

"updateable" is the alternative form of "updatable" — YourDictionary

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