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I realised today that I use the terms divisible and dividable interchangeably, even though there may be a difference between them.

If they are in fact different, I'm interested in any general rule that might apply to a large case of similarly related terms as well.

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    Garner defines "dividable" as a NEEDLESS variant of "divisible".
    – user19148
    Oct 8, 2012 at 16:02
  • @Carlo_R., so there's no semantic difference at all? Oct 8, 2012 at 16:05
  • Yes, there is no difference at all.
    – user19148
    Oct 8, 2012 at 16:06
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    Besides divisible/dividable, other such pairs include: admissible/admittable, corrosible/corrodable, defensible/defendable, derisible/deridable, discussible/discutable, divisible/dividable, evasible/evadable, expansible/expandable, explosible/explodable, invasible/invadable, offensible/offendable, persuasible/persuadable, protrusible/protrudable, remissible/remittable, reprehensible/reprehendable, transmissible/transmittable. Beyond those, you also have such things as dissoluble/dissolvable.
    – tchrist
    Oct 8, 2012 at 16:21
  • @tchrist, two quibbles: discutable is French but not English; offensible (“(obsolete) That may give offense”) is not parallel to offendable (“Capable of being offended”). Oct 8, 2012 at 18:07

3 Answers 3

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In common usage there may be little or no difference in meaning; but in mathematical writing, divisible has an accepted usage not held by dividable. Oxford Dictionary gives “Mathematics (of a number) containing another number a number of times without a remainder: 24 is divisible by 4” as sense 2 of divisible. Sometimes redundant wording like evenly divisible is used, and I suppose evenly dividable could be used, but it isn't.

I don't know of a general rule. Incidentally, as seen via links in google books, dividable is a word respectable enough to use, in spite of suffering some disrespect, as in following: enter image description here

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Use dividable only if you want to appear strange... GoogleFight:

enter image description here

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Actually both are correct, the difference is the origin of the word. Divisible comes from the Latin root of certain words in English, it is the same word in French; while dividable comes from the Germanic root of English.

The same can be applied to various words in the English language, those that find their roots from Latin are generally employed by higher classes of English society such as scientific terms, while its Germanic counter-part are mostly used in its popular usage.

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