Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Likable vs. Likeable

The Grammarist on Likable vs. likeable

For the adjective meaning pleasant or attractive, writers from outside North America generally use likeable. Likable—without the first e—is the preferred spelling in U.S. English. In Canadian news publications that publish online (which aren’t always reliable for gauging actual Canadian usage), both spellings appear about equally often.

Both appear throughout the English-speaking world, however. In current British news publications, likable appears about once for every six instances of likeable. In American publications, the word is spelled likeable about a third of the time.

Likeable is probably the older the form. It enters the language by 1700, and examples of its use in early 18th-century British publications are easily found through historical Google Books searches. Most instances of likable that Google finds from this period are actually improperly scanned words like remarkable and suitable. Genuine examples of likable become more common in mid-18th-century sources. The American preference for likable gains steam toward the end of that century and steadily becomes more pronounced up to the present.

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