Amiable vs amicable

Amicable and amicable are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often misused or confused; there are many confusing words in the English language that may be easily confused for each other in spoken English and written English. Two words or more than two words, even if they are common words, may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, homographs, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Sometimes, confusables are word constructions that are not proper English words. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words that have a different meaning from one another and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure to learn new words and commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study to understand the difference in spelling and meaning. To learn new words in the English language, one must not only study a spelling words list, one must know the meaning of words in one’s vocabulary word list. It is also helpful to memorize how to correctly pronounce words and to know the etymology of new words or where they are derived from. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables amiable and amicable, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Amiable means friendly or sociable; amiable is an adjective that describes a person’s personality or disposition. For instance, your best friend may be amiable. The noun forms are amiability and amiableness; the adverb from is amiably. The word amiable is derived from the Latin word, amicabilis, which means friendly.

Amicable also means friendly or sociable, but it is an adjective that refers to relationships between people or groups. For instance, a roomful of students who like each other is an amicable class. Neighbors who have a boundary dispute may seek an amicable solution—the inference is that the solution is possible because of a friendly relationship between the parties. The word amicable is also derived from the Latin word, amicabilis. The noun forms are amicability and amicableness; the adverb form is amicably.


Caught in the controversy is Chairman Steve Hontiveros, the most senior in our group and probably the most popular in international sports circles due to his amiable smiling front. (Manila Times)

All the classic tropes of the genre are here – the gang of loveable rogues led by an amiable-but-flawed hero, the impenetrable safe that only a socially awkward genius can crack, the stylised early exposition as Mr Big walks the thieves and the audience alike through how things should (but inevitably won’t) turn out, and the hordes of marauding zombies. (The National)

An amicable divorce framework would allow parties to move forward with candour and minimal acrimony, with the hope that more thought and less emotion can be allocated to the key matters of matrimonial asset division, maintenance and childcare arrangements. (Straits Times)

But with the proper support, Barnes said, those difficult conversations can often lead to an amicable agreement between both parties. (Martha’s Vineyard Times)

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