1. Capable of being effected, done, or put into practice; feasible. See Synonyms at possible.
2. Usable for a specified purpose: a practicable way of entry.
[Medieval Latin prācticābilis, capable of being used, from prācticāre, to practice, from prāctica, practice, from Greek prāktikē, practical science, from feminine of prāktikos, fit for action, practical, from prāssein, prāk-, to make, do.]
Usage Note: It is easy to confuse practicable and practical because they look so much alike and overlap in meaning. Practicable means "feasible" as well as "usable," and it cannot be applied to persons. Practical has at least six meanings, including the sense "capable of being put into effect, useful," wherein the confusion with practicable arises. But there is a subtle distinction between these words that is worth keeping. For the purpose of ordering coffee in a Parisian café, it would be practical (that is, useful) to learn some French, but it still might not be practicable for someone with a busy schedule and little time to learn.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus