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Eatable vs. Edible: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
"Eatable" refers to something that can be eaten without being necessarily pleasant, while "Edible" means it's safe and suitable to be eaten.

Key Differences

Both Eatable and Edible refer to things that can be consumed, but they carry slightly different nuances in usage. "Eatable" primarily indicates that something is fit for consumption, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's palatable or tasty. For instance, certain foods might be considered eatable but might not appeal to everyone's taste buds. On the contrary, Edible emphasizes the safety and suitability of consumption, often without commenting on the taste aspect.
In everyday language, while both terms can be used interchangeably in many contexts, Edible is more commonly used. When we talk about Edible plants, it means those plants or parts of plants that are safe to consume without any harmful effects. On the other hand, labeling something as Eatable might merely mean it can be eaten, but it might not be enjoyable or delicious.
It's essential to understand the context in which these terms are used. For instance, in the context of wild foraging, when someone refers to a plant as Edible, they are emphasizing its safety for consumption. Whereas if someone describes a dish as Eatable, they might be hinting that while the dish can be eaten, it might not be the most delicious option available.
Moreover, Edible is often used in broader contexts outside of just food. For instance, "edible arrangements" refer to bouquets made of fresh fruits, and "edible glitter" is used in culinary arts. Eatable, on the other hand, is less commonly used in such broader contexts and is mostly confined to describe food.
In summary, while both Eatable and Edible refer to what can be eaten, the former leans more towards the idea of being consumable without necessarily being pleasant, and the latter stresses the safety and appropriateness of consumption.

Comparison Chart

Primary Definition

Something that can be eaten
Something safe and suitable to be eaten

Taste Implication

May not always be pleasant or tasty
Doesn't comment on taste

Common Usage

Less commonly used
More widely used

Contextual Scope

Primarily describes food
Used in broader contexts outside just food


Safety and suitability for consumption

Eatable and Edible Definitions


Suitable for consumption but might not be the first choice for many.
The bread was stale, but still eatable in a pinch.


Safe for human consumption.
These mushrooms are edible and won't cause any harm.


Consumable without referring to its palatability.
The dish was eatable, though lacking in flavor.


Can be consumed as food.
The cake was adorned with edible flowers.


Capable of being eaten without any harm.
Despite its appearance, the fruit was eatable.


Suitable to be eaten without adverse effects.
We picked only the edible berries from the forest.


Something that can be consumed.
The fruits were sour but still eatable.


Fit to be eaten without posing a health risk.
Ensure you only select edible plants while foraging.


Fit for eating, but not necessarily delicious.
The cookies were burnt but somewhat eatable.


Pertaining to something that can safely be consumed.
They made an edible arrangement using fruits and chocolates.


Fit to be eaten; edible
An eatable meal.


Fit to be eaten, especially by humans
Edible roots.
An edible mushroom.


Something fit to be eaten.


Something fit to be eaten; food
Edibles such as vegetables and meat.


Eatables Food.


Capable of being eaten without harm; suitable for consumption; innocuous to humans.
Edible fruit


Able to be eaten; edible.


Capable of being eaten without disgust.
Although stale, the bread was edible.


Anything edible; food.


In which edible plants are grown for human consumption.


Capable of being eaten; fit to be eaten; proper for food; esculent; edible.


Anything edible.


Any substance that can be used as food


In particular, an edible mushroom.


Suitable for use as food


(marijuana) a foodstuff, usually a baked good, infused with tetrahydrocannabinol from cannabutter etc.


Fit to be eaten as food; eatable; esculent; as, edible fishes.


Any substance that can be used as food


Suitable for use as food


Can an item be Edible but not Eatable?

Not usually. If something is Edible (safe to eat), it's also Eatable, but it might not be palatable or tasty.

Which term is more common in everyday language?

Edible is more commonly used than Eatable.

Are all Edible items good for health?

While Edible means safe to eat, it doesn't comment on the nutritional or health value.

Are Edible glitters or colors safe for consumption?

Yes, Edible glitters or colors are designed to be safe for consumption.

What does "Edible arrangements" mean?

It refers to bouquets or arrangements made of fresh fruits that are safe to eat.

Is every Eatable food also Edible?

Generally, yes. If it's Eatable, it's consumable and thus Edible.

Are all fruits and vegetables Edible?

Most are, but there are some fruits and vegetables with parts that aren't Edible or even toxic.

Do both "Eatable" and "Edible" mean the same?

They both refer to something that can be eaten, but Eatable might not always imply tastiness, while Edible emphasizes safety.

Can I use "Eatable" to describe tasty food?

While Eatable indicates that food can be eaten, it doesn't necessarily comment on its tastiness.

If something is described as Eatable, should I assume it's delicious?

No, Eatable merely means it can be eaten, not necessarily that it's delicious.

Can I describe a dish I didn't like as Eatable?

Yes, if you found a dish consumable but not to your taste, it can be described as Eatable.

Can I use "Edible" to describe a non-food item?

Yes, as long as it's safe to consume. For instance, "edible ink" or "edible wrappers."

Can all Edibles be digested easily?

While Edible means it's safe to eat, it doesn't comment on ease of digestion. Some Edibles might be harder for some people to digest.

Is "Eatable" commonly used in culinary arts?

While it's understood, Edible is more commonly used in culinary contexts.

If someone offers me an "Edible" product, should I assume it's tasty?

Edible emphasizes safety and suitability for consumption, not necessarily taste.

Why might a food be described as only Eatable?

It might indicate that while the food can be consumed, it's not particularly tasty or appetizing.

Are the terms "Eatable" and "Edible" interchangeable in recipes?

They can often be used interchangeably, but Edible is more commonly used in recipes.

Which term is older, Eatable or Edible?

Both terms have been in use for centuries, but Edible has Latin origins, making it the older term.

Do other languages have separate terms like "Eatable" and "Edible"?

While many languages have terms for "can be eaten" or "safe to eat," the nuances between them can vary.

How do I determine if wild plants are Eatable or Edible?

Consult a reliable guide or expert on local flora before consuming wild plants.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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