Most sources say that "dissatisfactory" and "unsatisfactory" are interchangeable, however, wiki-diff says that "unsatisfactory" is inadequate, substandard or not satisfactory whereas "dissatisfactory" is causing dissatisfaction. If this is true then the two words aren't interchangeable with respect to meaning.

  • The game was dissatisfactory/unsatisfactory (especially the plot), but I still enjoyed the level design and the atmosphere too.

I want to say that the gameplay didn't satisfy me in this game; it's not interesting and the plot is poor.

  • 1
    Are you more concerned with being precise, or with being understood? This can be a problem when one has a large vocabulary, and dissatisfactory is not a common word. See also this ELU thread for some background.
    – Davo
    Jan 10, 2018 at 13:46
  • The two words are not synonyms. You have the definitions, you choose. But I have to tell you dissatisfactory is not much used. Usually, one says: The gameplay did not satisfy me or was not satisfying to me because A, B and C. English likes verbs, not abstract nouns in these contexts.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2018 at 15:09
  • @Lambie Okay, then I'll remove these two words from my vocabulary. Thanks. Jan 10, 2018 at 15:11
  • @SovereignSun Oh no, don't do that. You might be hired to write some kind of consumer satisfaction manual. :) Or to analyse some sociological phenomena. I was referring to the use of the words in what is your context: expressing an opinion about some gameplay or other.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2018 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


Dissatisfactory would be in regards to an opinion or emotional response.

I.e., I was dissatisfied with the soup, but the chicken was delicious.

Here, the soup itself may be delicious for one person but not another - implying the person found the soup dissatisfactory due to his/her taste but the chicken was to their liking.

On the other hand, unsatisfactory would be in regards to the object or item not meeting the standards expected. To use the same example:

The soup was unsatisfactory so we asked for it to be taken off the bill.

I would interpret this as the soup was simply not to an expected standard (similar to your game example). I would say though, at the end of the day both of these examples (and your example) are opinion based so I would always write it as:

I was dissatisfied with the game - especially the plot - but I still enjoyed the level design and the atmosphere.

I hope this has helped highlight that in the first two examples, the words certainly are interchangeable, as shown; however, the meaning and underlying tone of the sentences has changed.

I was unsatisfied with the game - especially the plot...

Now I have demonstrated the words are interchangeable by making the words linked to my opinion.

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