reliable or believable


To mre, reliable and believable seem to have the same meaning. Then, in the following sentence, which sound more natural?

Providing readers with specific and reliable( believable) information makes your essay more reliable. ( believable)
A concrete statement that every five minutes, one person commit a suicide in XX is more reliable (or believable) than just saying that many people commit suicide in XX.
Expressing ideas logically is another factor in making the essay more reliable.
  • JustKate

    Senior Member
    In the first place, it's a bit odd to describe an essay as reliable. We tend to use reliable in reference to things that are supposed to be useful (appliances, for example, or perhaps a working animal such as a horse) or people, but not essays.

    More importantly, while there is a little bit of overlap in meaning, they don't mean the same thing. Reliable means "able to be relied on" or "dependable." Believable means "can be believed." How are those synonymous? Just because something is reliable doesn't mean everyone believes it's reliable - and for that matter, people can believe in something despite evidence to the contrary, continuing to believe that an appliance or a person or an institution is reliable even if it really isn't.

    For example, say a company designs a brand of car, but in the early years, the car is very poorly engineered and thus unreliable. It earns a reputation for unreliability. But the company continues to work on and improve the car, so after a few years, it becomes reliable. In the meantime, though, a lot of people have been hearing for years that the car is unreliable, and they may even have experienced this for themselves, so even after it becomes reliable, they may not believe it, or they may not trust that the car will continue to be reliable. The car is therefore reliable - but its reliability isn't believable.

    So in your example, both believable and reliable could be used - but if you use believable, you're saying one thing and if you're saying reliable, you're saying something else.
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