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When to Use Amiable or Amicable?

Amiable or amicable?



Are amiable and amicable the same?

Both amiable and amicable are describing words (i.e., adjectives); the difference mostly concerns what it is that they describe:


We use amiable to describe someone as friendly or sociable, or something that pleases (or has a pleasing quality). Amicable, on the other hand, describes when something is “done or achieved in a polite or friendly way and without arguing”; e.g., “an amicable agreement“.


The distinction between them is clearer in how we use both:


Everyone knew him as an amiable fellow.


They managed to maintain amicable relations even after a messy divorce.


Therefore, amicable applies mostly to relations, situations, negotiations or interactions; amiable describes people or attitudes and dispositions.



“Amiable” / “amicable”, used in sentences

Examples: “amiable” used in sentences
He seemed an amiable young man.

So amiable was the mood of the meeting that a decision was soon reached.

He was amiable and charming, and he possessed an ability to make people feel comfortable in his presence.
Examples: “amicable” used in sentences
An amicable settlement was reached.

In spite of their disagreement they parted on amicable terms.

It was an amicable divorce.

The government and the union managed to reach an amicable settlement of the dispute.



Amicable, synonyms

  • amiable
  • civil
  • cordial
  • courteous
  • harmonious
  • neighbourly
  • peaceful
  • polite



Amiable, synonyms

  • affable
  • amicable
  • charming
  • cheerful
  • cordial
  • delightful
  • engaging
  • friendly
  • genial
  • good-humoured
  • good-natured



Word origin (of amicable/amiable)

Early 15c., “pleasant,” from Late Latin amicabilis “friendly,” a word in Roman law, from Latin amicus “friend,” ultimately from amare “to love”.


Late 14c., “kindly, friendly,” also “worthy of love or admiration,” from Old French amiable “pleasant, kind; worthy to be loved” (12c.), from Late Latin amicabilis “friendly,” from Latin amicus “friend, loved one,” noun use of an adjective, “friendly, loving”.



Read about other misused words

Commonly misused wordsUK English vs. US English
former vs. latterburned or burnt?
bear with vs. bare withcolor or colour?
breathe or breathfavorite vs. favourite
compliment vs. complementsmelled or smelt?
effect vs. affectgray or grey?
elude or alludefavor vs. favour
it’s or itsanalyze or analyse?



Sources

  1. Oxford Learner’s Dictionary on “amiable” and “amicable”. Accessed 31 March, 2024.
  2. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of amicable.” Online Etymology Dictionary, https://www.etymonline.com/word/amicable. Accessed 31 March, 2024.


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