In French, we have the word "dessinable" which is an adjective for something that can be "dessiné" or in English that can be drawn.

However, when I search the term "drawable" in Cambridge dictionary I don't find any input. Same for "drawnable"

Surprisingly, on Google, my result for drawable is:

A Drawable is a general abstraction for "something that can be drawn."
Most often you will deal with Drawable as the type of resource retrieved for drawing things to the screen

With the part "something that can be drawn" matching the adjective that I'm looking for but the website is related to a Java Class Object for Android which is quite restricted to programming langages!

Does English have not a word for "something that can be drawn"?

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    Besides drawable = capable of being sketched / represented pictorially, there's the sense involved in drawable funds - money held in a bank account or similar, which can be [with]drawn and spent. Not to mention drawable wire, with various senses centring on draw = pull [tight], as in drawstrings. Feb 23, 2021 at 16:32
  • As the other answers and comments say, this is a legitimate English word. It's hard to say out loud, which makes it a little awkward on the page too. Feb 23, 2021 at 18:28
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    Though in computer graphics, a drawable is usually an abstraction for something that can be drawn upon, such as a computer screen, a window on a display, or an image in memory. See e.g. documentation for the X Window system.
    – jamesqf
    Feb 24, 2021 at 2:33
  • In Java, there's a long standing convention to name interfaces (vs. a class) by appending "-able" to the name. This is often done regardless of whether or not the word would be idomatic english. All of this is to say you'll probably often find "words" in that community that are nonstandard.
    – Kirk Woll
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:57

3 Answers 3


English is fairly flexible and open to the creation of 'new' words and compound words from familiar prefixes and suffixes, "-able" being one such example.

A Google search finds quite a lot of results for "drawable", some of which refer to its use in technical jargon, but while it may not have been inducted in dictionaries like Cambridge, it has made its way into the Free Dictionary with the definition "capable of being drawn". I can confirm that, upon reading the word, this is the meaning that it conveyed to me.

Caution should be applied when creating non-dictionary words this way - not all words would take this suffix and make sense; also, there may be existing words accepted into the dictionary that would negate the need for a 'new' one. For example, "tasteable" sounds ridiculous, as everything would be capable of being tasted. Likewise, "toleratable" would be incorrect as we have the word "tolerable".

Also note that the perceived meaning of 'drawable' may not be all that your French equivalent means. For example, if someone was described as "kissable", dictionaries define this as "inviting kissing through being lovable or physically attractive", so that particular word means more than just "capable" of being kissed, but not every word with the -able suffix carries this meaning - most just mean that something is possible. If you are looking for a word to say that something is so aesthetically pleasing it 'invites' you to want to draw it, then 'drawable' may not convey this.

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    I have to take issue with the last sentence. Eatable has a subtly different meaning to edible. Edible refers to something that's safe to eat - paper is edible, lead is not. Eatable refers to whether the item might actually be enjoyed when ingested. Paper is edible, but it's not particularly eatable.
    – Ben R.
    Feb 24, 2021 at 9:51
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    @BenR. Thanks, I honestly didn't think 'eatable' was an accepted dictionary word. I've found a better example.
    – Astralbee
    Feb 24, 2021 at 9:54
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    Nope, eatable is a perfectly acceptable word. It's effectively synonymous with palatable.
    – Ben R.
    Feb 24, 2021 at 14:09
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    how is tasteable not a valid word? if I put a tiny amount of sugar in water, it is not tasteable.
    – qwr
    Feb 25, 2021 at 1:22
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    I thought untasteablity was one of the metrics of being a good poison? You don't want something that tastes odd and will be spat out before being ingested. If you're an evil assassin that is...
    – user117065
    Feb 25, 2021 at 1:35

Yes, 'drawable' is a correct and legitimate word

I don't understand why you can't use drawable to mean 'something that can be drawn'. Perhaps it's just its unlookupability (or unlookupable-ness) or maddey-uppy-ness, or its freakiness or unprecedentedness or even its unapproachableness, but don't let those factors stop you from using 'drawable'.

Dictionaries don't make words; people do! It doesn't have to be in dictionaries for it to be a correct and legitimate word. You can make up any word so long as it's understandable. Also as tchrist said in one of his answers: 'No dictionary can ever tell you something is not a word!'.

It's Modern English and you can adjectivise just about any verb because most verbs in Modern English are adjectivisable. The suffix -able is a highly productive suffix in Modern English and is appendable to an enormous number of words (usually verbs).

In his English suffixes: Stress-assignment properties, productivity, selection and combinatorial processes, Ives Trevian says that -able 'has yielded a considerable number of adjectives endowed with the senses “capable of, deserving of, likely to or tending to"'. He goes on to say that able-ise-able1 verbs are chiefly transitive. Note, however, that it is appended to the infinitive form, so it should be draw + -able, not *drawn + -able. Also see envisageable, which is not present in any dictionary, but is still correct and understandable.

Moreover, it can have different meanings, depending on the context as FumbleFingers pointed out in a comment beneath the question: Besides drawable = capable of being sketched / represented pictorially, there's the sense involved in drawable funds - money held in a bank account or similar, which can be [with]drawn and spent. Not to mention drawable wire, with various senses centring on draw = pull [tight], as in drawstrings.

  1. Able-ise-able isn't present in any dictionary, I just made it up to demonstrate that you can able-ise (or ableify) a large number of verbs. Also note that ableisation only works well with verbs. -ise is a verbifying suffix and the suffix -able is immediately attachable to it:
    • able + ise -> able-ise
    • able-ise + able -> able-ise-able
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    Making up a word when there's an existing one doesn't sound great though, eg. "unapproachableness" when there's unapproachability or "unprecedentedness" when there's novelty. "Drawable" is fine though. Feb 24, 2021 at 3:03
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    @Void That’s brainable; thanks!
    – StephenS
    Feb 24, 2021 at 5:33
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    It's always tricky here on ELL, because a lot of what "sounds right" or "sounds wrong" that's immediately clear to a native speaker is much harder for a learner to judge. That said, we natives do generally make an effort to understand what you mean as a learner, and using a suffix like "-able" somewhere that we wouldn't do so isn't likely to be misunderstood - it might sound a bit "foreign" but obvious what you mean. Feb 24, 2021 at 14:46
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    I agree with @TobySpeight. Statements like "you can adjectivise just about any verb" are true in some contexts, but not all. If an obviously native speaker uses a nonce word in an informal setting, the audience will likely think the speaker is consciously making up a new word - I'll decide whether I think that's clever or obnoxious. If someone with limited English vocabulary and a noticeable accent uses a nonce word, many audiences are likely to think this person doesn't know English.
    – Juhasz
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:28
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    "No dictionary can ever tell you something is not a word!" Indeed, this was a common misunderstanding among teachers back when I was in school. I remember one of them claiming that "can't" wasn't a word, and offering as evidence the supposed impossibility of finding it in a dictionary. I quickly found it in multiple dictionaries. The Mars bar (which she had promised to any student who could prove her wrong) never materialised.
    – rjpond
    Feb 25, 2021 at 8:39

A search in Google Ngram confirms it is in use, and has been since at least the mid 1800s. Here is just one example: Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society - Volume 1.

Note that while in the reference given, the meaning of the root, “draw”, is to sketch or make a representation with pen or pencil on paper, etc, there are at least two other meanings of draw which some of the other Ngram hits showed.

One is the pulling of metal through a hole in a die to make wire; the other is the taking of some money from a bank or other such account — e.g. ”I will draw down the loan to tomorrow, so we should have the cash available by close of business.” In both of those meanings, the derivative “drawable” is also a valid word.

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