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Difference between eatable or edible

DALL·E 2024 02 26 14.58.01 A stylized depiction of two plates with food one labeled Eatable and the other Edible set against a backdrop of a dining table. The scene should

In the English language, the terms eatable and edible often appear interchangeable, but subtle distinctions exist in their usage and connotations. Eatable implies that something can be eaten without harm, often focusing on the quality or desirability of the food. Edible, on the other hand, simply means that something is safe to consume, without necessarily being appealing or tasty. The grammatical nature of both words allows them to function as adjectives, modifying nouns to describe the quality of food or other substances in terms of their suitability for consumption.

Quick Facts Table

DefinitionSuitable or fit to be eaten; palatable.Safe to be eaten; not poisonous.
Usage ContextOften used to describe food that is good enough to eat, but not necessarily enjoyable.Used to describe anything that can be eaten safely, regardless of taste.
ConnotationImplies that the food is not harmful but might not be particularly appealing.Focuses on the safety of consumption.
Grammatical RoleAdjectiveAdjective
SynonymsPalatable, ConsumableNon-toxic, Safe to eat

Difference Between Eatable and Edible

Definition of Eatable

Eatable refers to food that is fit for consumption. It suggests that the food is not harmful and can be eaten, but it might not necessarily be enjoyable or delicious. The term is often used in a subjective sense, implying that the food is of a quality that someone might decide to eat it, but it's not exceptionally good.

Definition of Edible

Edible, in contrast, denotes that something is safe to consume. It emphasizes the absence of harm in consuming a substance, without regard to its taste or appeal. This term is broader and can apply to substances that are not typically considered food but can be eaten without causing illness or harm.

Origin of Eatable

The term eatable originates from the late Middle English, combining the word “eat” with the suffix “-able,” indicating capability. It reflects the idea of food being capable of being eaten, focusing more on the aspect of consumption rather than enjoyment.

Origin of Edible

Edible comes from the Latin word “edibilis,” which means “able to be eaten.” Its use in English dates back to the early 17th century, emphasizing the safety of consumption rather than the quality of the food.


  • Eatable: /ˈiːtəbl/
  • Edible: /ˈɛdɪb(ə)l/

Comparing Eatable and Edible

FocusQuality and palatability of the food.Safety of consuming the substance.
Usage ContextMore subjective, depends on individual taste preferences.Objective, based on the inherent characteristics of the substance.
ApplicabilityPrimarily used for food items.Can be used for any consumable substances, including plants, fungi, etc.
ConnotationNeutral to slightly negative, indicating something is just okay to eat.Neutral, indicating safety without implying quality.
Common Phrases“It’s eatable, but not great.”“It’s edible, but not recommended.”

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Eatable in Sentences

  1. The vegetables were old but still eatable.
    • Here, eatable suggests the vegetables can be consumed without issues, although they might not be the freshest or most appealing.
  2. I found the meal to be just eatable; it lacked flavor.
    • Indicates that the meal was sufficient to satisfy hunger but didn’t offer a pleasurable taste experience.
  3. After the long journey, even the simplest food seemed eatable to them.
    • Suggests that hunger made the food acceptable, even if it might not be under normal circumstances.
  4. The bread is dry but eatable.
    • Describes the bread as not being in its best condition, yet it can be consumed.
  5. Some of the wild berries we found were eatable.
    • Implies that the berries were suitable for consumption, focusing on their basic acceptability rather than their desirability.

Use of Edible in Sentences

  1. The guidebook described which mushrooms were edible.
    • Highlights the importance of distinguishing between safe and unsafe mushrooms for consumption.
  2. They sell edible flowers at the local market.
    • Indicates that the flowers can be safely eaten, perhaps as part of a dish or decoration.
  3. This plant is edible but not very tasty.
    • Specifies that while the plant can be eaten without harm, it may not be enjoyable to eat.
  4. Scientists are exploring edible packaging to reduce waste.
    • Describes packaging made from materials safe for consumption, emphasizing sustainability.
  5. Are all parts of this fish edible?
    • Questions the safety of consuming every part of the fish, focusing on health concerns.


While eatable and edible both relate to the suitability of something for consumption, the key difference lies in their emphasis. Eatable leans more towards the idea of something being good enough to eat, often with a focus on quality or desirability, whereas edible centers on the safety and non-toxicity of the item in question. Understanding these nuances can enhance clarity in communication, especially in contexts involving food and safety.

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Can “eatable” and “edible” be used interchangeably?
    • While they can sometimes be used interchangeably, it’s important to consider the slight difference in emphasis on quality (eatable) versus safety (edible).
  • Are all edible plants eatable?
    • Not necessarily. While all edible plants are safe to eat, not all might be considered eatable due to taste or texture preferences.
  • How can I determine if something is edible?
    • Research, consulting with experts, or referring to reliable guides on plants, fungi, or other substances can help determine if something is edible.
  • Is there a word for something that is neither eatable nor edible?
    • Yes, substances that are not suitable for consumption are often described as inedible or non-consumable.
Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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