Insatiable vs Unsatiable


USA - English
I was reading some draft correspondence today, and had a mildly allergic reaction to seeing the word "unsatiable." I made the author change it to "insatiable." Here is the context:

She is an unsatiable learner.

Afterwards, I broke out the very large Webster's English Dictionary in the office and to my surprise found that "unsatiable" was in there as well; however, it referred specifically to "insatiable" for the definition. Try as I might, I was unable to pinpoint if there is actually any difference between the two words beyond frequency of usage.

Is there really any difference between the two words or am I just being pedantic? In my opinion, "insatiable" is more acceptable due to its fidelity to its Latin roots, but it also seems to imply an ongoing desire. Do I have a point, or am I simply going with "insatiable" because it is more familiar? Thanks in advance for any help.
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd have thought that "unsatiable" was now effectively a non-word, Buddha. Here's how the OED describes it:
    Now rare.

    Of persons, desires, etc.: Insatiable. (Common c1540-c1675.)
    Jane Austen may have used it (click), but I wouldn't:D


    New Member
    Actually, though the words are similar, they relate more in a matter of degrees. Just as possible and probable are nearly idenitical, probable represents a greater liklihood of possibility. In this instance, insatiable would be better defined as nearly impossible to satisfy, whereas unsatiable would relate to an absolute impossibility to satisfy. At least, that has always been my two cents... ;)
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