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TWTS: Infeasible or unfeasible? Just pick the one you like

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Sometimes we need a whole segment to answer just one question from our listeners. Other times, it’s feasible to answer several at once.

This week, we decided to look at three shorter questions in a lightening round, starting with “unfeasible” vs. “infeasible” – do we really we need both?

Probably not.

This question came to our attention after the University of Michigan circulated a policy that included the word “infeasible.” Professor Anne Curzan received several emails from colleagues wondering whether “unfeasible” should’ve been used instead.

Actually, “infeasible” is correct. However, “unfeasible” is equally correct.

Both “infeasible” and “unfeasible” go back to the first half of the 16th century. They were in moderate use until the 1940s, when both started to rise. At that point “unfeasible” was more common; "infeasible" became more common in the mid-1970s.

“Infeasible” and “unfeasible” are in circulation today and both are fine to use. You can also say “not feasible,” because that’s fine too.

One down, two to go. To hear what we had to say about “onset” vs. “outset” and “adjust” vs. “readjust,” listen to the audio above.

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of Weekend Edition at Michigan Radio. She also co-hosts Michigan Radio’s weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.