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feasible

June 17, 2016

I’ve just been reading a piece in the Times sports section by Oliver Kay, who, discussing Rooney’s new midfield role, asks whether it would work as well against better teams and answers his own question “Feasibly not.” Clearly Oliver Kay thinks that feasibly is a synonym for possibly; and it sort of is, but not in this context. Feasible means do-able. We cannot say “do-ably not.” For the same reason the Viz comic strip Buster Gonad and his Unfeasibly Large Testicles is misnamed. Those testicles of his are impossibly large, not “unfeasibly” large.

The word ultimately derives from the French word faire, meaning to do (or make); and the French word for feasible is in fact faisable.

Feasible has two interesting extensions. It gives us the word defeasible, meaning something that can be undone or revoked; and that in turn gives rise to indefeasible, which means something that can’t. It’s often used in philosophy to talk about rights: eg “Freedom of speech is a valuable and important right but not an indefeasible one”.

That’s all I have to say about feasible today.

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One Comment
  1. Sounds plausible.

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