5
  1. She’s an incorrigible (incorreggibile) flirt.

  2. She's a corrigible (correggibile) flirt.

In Italian language "incorreggibile", used like in "1" case, is a 'negative' word for which, strictly speaking, the 'positive' form doesn't exist.

In fact, in Italian language one cannot use the "2" sentence because it sound awkward. I'm not sure why, but I think that this happens because "1" example is a bit idiomatic.

Furthermore, always with regarding to Italian language, I'm not able to think of another word, different from "correggibile", that can express the 'positive' form of "incorreggibile".

So, I'm wondering if, in English language, "corrigible" can be used to express the 'positive' form of "incorrigible" in "2" case. If not, does another word exist? Or, in this case, are English and Italian similar?

  • NOAD lists both words, and gives them opposite meanings. However, it seems like incorrigible is much more popular than corrigible. I don't know if that's a quirk of the English language (perhaps due to idioms), or a reflection of human behavior. :^) – J.R. Mar 17 '13 at 11:10
  • 1
    Vices, errors and manuscripts are all corrigible. The real question is: What circumstances would give you occasion to speak of a corrigible flirt? "My girlfriend is a corrigible flirt; she stops when I ask her to/smack her around a little" is probably not going to come up all that often. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 17 '13 at 16:09
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Corrigible literally means correctable, while incorrigible literally means uncorrectable. From this, you might conclude that the two words are opposites.

However, most speakers don't think of incorrigible as defined in terms of corrigible. In fact, I would venture to guess that many speakers aren't familiar with the word corrigible at all! The two words have their own idiomatic patterns of usage, and they don't correspond in manner or frequency.

If you did say corrigible flirt, I think it would be interpreted in one of two ways:

  1. unidiomatic or incomprehensible; or
  2. wordplay, coining the word anew as a back-formation from incorrigible.

This sort of wordplay happens all the time, as when people re-invent the word gruntled (from disgruntled). It works because gruntled is an obsolete English word few people are familiar with. Likewise, corrigible is relatively unknown, and though it's not quite obsolete, it isn't generally used in this fashion. Because of this, I'd expect corrigible flirt to be interpreted as either novel or mistaken.

4

There's nothing grammatically or semantically incorrect about "She's a corrigible flirt". Here's a quote from a 2008 handbook on law, which I found using Google Ngram Viewer:

"The first dimension represents the evaluation of the options from the perspective that the offender is corrigible, and the second dimension represents the evaluation of the options from the perspective that the offender is incorrigible." [My emphasis.]

(from Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making [p 139])

Most instances of corrigible are, as kiamlaluno says, not used for people but for errors or institutions.

In the 2006 book Presbyterians Being Reformed: Reflections on What the Church Needs (p. 69), the author says: The church is corrigible.

2

I cannot comment on corrigible flirt, but corrigible means "capable of being corrected, rectified, or reformed"; its meaning is the opposite of incorrigible, which is used when a person is not able to be corrected.

The only difference I can see is that corrigible is not necessarily used for a person (or it is not used for a person).

  • kiamla, for example, "Sei proprio correggibile!" is not the opposite of "Sei proprio incorreggibile!" in Italian language, no? – user114 Mar 17 '13 at 11:42
  • For those who don't understand Italian, "Sei proprio correggible!" literally means "You are just corrigible!" – user114 Mar 17 '13 at 12:06
  • ... or "You are so corrigible!" – user114 Mar 17 '13 at 12:52
  • Correggibile is the opposite of incorreggibile. I am not sure somebody says sei proprio correggibile in Italian. Sei proprio incorreggibile is the more used sentence. – kiamlaluno Mar 17 '13 at 14:17

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