Eatable or Edible: What’s the Difference?

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.

What’s the Difference Between Eatable and Edible?

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.

When to Use Eatable

What is eatable versus edible meaningEatable functions as an adjective. Something that is eatable is at least marginally enjoyable or palatable.

  • 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.

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.

When to Use Edible

What is edible or eatable grammar rules englishEdible also functions as an adjective. Something that is edible is fit for human consumption without danger.

  • 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.

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.

Eatables and Edibles as Nouns

Both eatable and edible can function as nouns. When acting as a noun, they usually appear in the plural.

  • There were parcels of eatables left on the table.
  • The police confiscated marijuana edibles.

How Can I Remember the Difference?

Not sure how you are going to remember this distinction? Here is good trick.

Eatable is something that you can enjoy eating and can do it regularly. 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.

Summary

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.

Eatable foods have at least some marginal enjoying qualities to them. They are palatable.

Edible foods are those that are fit for safe consumption.

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