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Eatable vs. Edible

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Say you’re about to sit down and eat a meal with your family; what’s the best way to describe the food sitting on the dining room table? Is it eatable or edible? Chances are, you wouldn’t choose either of these words—unless you want to offend the host. But let’s assume they are your only two options. Is there a difference? These two words are broadly synonymous—both meaning able to be eaten—but eatable vs. edible can be differentiated.

In this post, I want to go over the differences between eatable and edible—what little there is. I will use example sentences to demonstrate their functions and definitions. After reading this post, you will know precisely how to differentiate edible vs. eatable.

Eatable as adjective:

The word eatable can be used as an adjective in English language where it refers to something that is fit to be consumed as food.

Eatable fruits were presented in a fashionable tray.

Eatable as noun:

Eatable can also be used as a noun which means items of food.

Parcels of eatables and gifts were delivered first.

Edible as adjective:

Edible when used as an adjective also means something fit to be eaten (often used to contrast with unpalatable or poisonous varieties).

The shrub has small edible berries.

Examples:

How can you eat there? Their food isn’t even eatable.

Rummaging through the empty containers, he looked for any eatable morsels left behind.

I know this doesn’t look very eatable, but it is delicious.

These mushrooms are edible but those over there are inedible. Stay away from those ones.

Some of the candle wax dripped onto the birthday cake, but it is edible wax, so it’s okay.

KFC is experimenting with new edible coffee cups.

Eatable or edible:

While these two words both have to do with food and the ability to eat it, they focus on slightly different things. Whether you choose edible or eatable for your sentence depends on what you want to emphasize. Something that is eatable is at least marginally enjoyable or palatable. In this sense, eatable puts more of a focus on the palatability and taste of a food. Something may be perfectly fit for human consumption, but if its taste or texture make your throw up while eating it, you might say it is not eatable. Edible is something that is fit for human consumption without danger. Just as eatable puts more of a focus on the palatability or taste of a food, edible put its emphasis on whether or not the food is safe for consumption, i.e., nonpoisonous and capable of being eaten without danger. In this sense, a food could be said to be edible but not eatable, if there is nothing dangerous about consuming the food, but it taste disgusting. This is easy to remember because eatable has the word eat in it. So you eat things that are eatable. Edible is something that is free from danger, safe to consume. Remember this because edible and danger both have the letter “D” in them.

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"Eatable vs. Edible." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 25 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/eatable_vs._edible>.

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