[ eyl-yuh-nuh-buhl, ey-lee-uh- ]
/ ˈeɪl yə nə bəl, ˈeɪ li ə- /
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adjective Law.
capable of being sold or transferred.
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Origin of alienable

1605–15; <French, Middle French aliė́nable from aliė́ner “to sell, transfer” from Latin aliēnāre “to transfer by sale” (see alien) + -able


al·ien·a·bil·i·ty, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does alienable mean?

Yes, alienable is a word, but it’s rarely used. It means able to be sold or transferred.

It’s opposite, inalienable, is much more common. Inalienable is used to describe things, especially rights, that cannot be taken away, denied, or transferred to another person.

Inalienable means the same thing as unalienable, which is no longer in common use. However, unalienable is closely associated with the phrase unalienable rights due to its appearance in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson actually used inalienable in early drafts of the Declaration of Independence, but the spelling was changed for the final draft. Unalienable was the preferred spelling until around the 1830s, but inalienable has completely replaced it in regular use.

Example: We work to make the founders’ words true—that human rights are in no way alienable.

Where does alienable come from?

The first records of the word alienable come from the early 1600s. It comes from the Latin verb aliēnāre, meaning “to transfer by sale.”

Alienable is typically used in the context of selling goods or transferring property. If something is inalienable, it’s “not for sale”—it isn’t going anywhere. Inalienable is commonly used to describe rights that people believe cannot be denied to them or taken away from them by their government. However, such rights involve things other than freedom, such as property.

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What are some synonyms for alienable?

What are some words that share a root or word element with alienable?

What are some words that often get used in discussing alienable?

How is alienable used in real life?

Alienable is rarely used. Inalienable is much more common.


Try using alienable!

Which of the following terms is a synonym of alienable?

A. transferrable
B. not for sale
C. inherent
D. absolute

How to use alienable in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for alienable

/ (ˈeɪljənəbəl, ˈeɪlɪə-) /

law (of property) transferable to another owner

Derived forms of alienable

alienability, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012