Tractable vs trackable

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Tractable and trackable are two words that are very close in spelling and pronunciation and are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the words tractable and trackable, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Tractable describes a person who is easily influenced, a person who is easily controlled. Tractable may also describe a problem or a situation that may be easily dealt with, one that is manageable. Tractable is an adjective, derived from the Latin word tractabilis which means something that is manageable or pliant.

Trackable describes something that may be followed or traced, something that may be tracked in either a literal or a figurative sense. Trackable may refer to the ability to follow a physical trail or to follow an information trail through data and paperwork. The word trackable is also an adjective, derived from the Old French word trac meaning the track made by a horse’s foot, and the suffix -able which is used to make a verb into an adjective.


“After about a year of banging my head against the wall on POPs, it looked to me like mercury was a more tractable problem,” Selin says. (MIT News)

O’Brien has had disasters like that on occasion, not every young racehorse being as tractable as one might wish. (The Guardian)

These categories of smell are both very recognizable and very strongly linked to certain chemistry—sulfur compounds for garlic, ammonia compounds for fish—which made them particularly tractable. (The New Yorker)

Stakeholders in the marketing and communications industry recently highlighted the benefits of having a trackable identity for individuals in Nigeria. (The Nation)