Submitted by Jay Fernandez  •  March 6, 2012

tailorable

Is “tailorable” a proper word? The context of the word is intended to convey that a document is able to be customized, or tailorable.

Tailorable sounds like a reasonable use of “tailor”, especially in the (DoD) Infortmation Technology (IT) industry.

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I wouldn't use it, but some might find it bearable. Be that as it may, your document is certainly not "able" under any circumstances - try *capable of being* or *can be*, with either expression then followed by *customised or tailored*.

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Agree with semiotik-- I wouldn't use it either. But it is not because a document is incapable of being "-able". A document can readable. It could be inalterable.

Tailorable isn't in Webster's dictionary.

Also, fabrics and suits can be "tailored". Attaching this meaning to a document is a strange comparison. I know "tailor" is gaining wider usage, e.g., "We can tailor your _________ to suit your needs", but it just sounds like marketing jargon to me.

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Yeah if I heard "tailorable" in a business meeting it would register a 9 on my BS-o-meter.

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It's in the OED: "Suitable for tailoring; able to be altered or adapted."
The earliest citation is 1917. And there is these citations:

1987 Lit. & Ling. Computing 2 232/1 The layout of the bibliography is determined by tailorable style sheets.

2002 B. Detlor & A. Finn in Å. Grönlund Electronic Govt. vi. 108 In terms of tailorability, citizens need to be able to personalize the information content displayed on a government portal so that the information matches more closely to user interests and needs.

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Grammatically, tailorable is fine. However, I think of clothes when I see word. My clothes are tailorable. If yu hav already noted tailor in the document in the sense of "make or adapt for a particular purpose or person" ... then it would be ok. Otherwise, there are other, clearer word that can be affixed with -able:

alterable, changeable, adjustable, adaptable, amendable, revisable, (re)shapeable, refashion, restyle, revampable, reworkable ... the one that I like: tweakable

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If you're not talking about clothing, it seems to mean "customizable," which I hope is also a word and is more common.

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"Tailorable" is in common use among people who develop process documentation. It has come to mean something very specific. A tailorable process is one that a user is allowed to adjust to fit their specific activity. It is not an accident that the word "tailor" has been adapted for this purpose. Just as an article of clothing has specific "tailorable" features, e.g. cuffs, waist, a "tailorable" document can't be change in arbitrary ways. The features that are adjustable are generally specified explicitly.
Typically, these features allow for adjusting the degree of rigor in process steps, but not for skipping steps completely. The rationale for building in "tailorable" features into a process is that the process rigor that may save money by reducing risk may, under other circumstances, cost money by being overkill.
The introduction of a specific phrase, "tailoring", allows rational people to make rational decisions without undermining the authority of the original. Use of a more general phrase like "alter" or "adapt" would tend to lose that connotation.

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Don't we already frequently use 'tailor-made' for plenty of things which have nothing to do with clothes? I can't see much difference with 'tailorable'. If somebody says to me 'This is tailorable to your requirements', we both know what is being discussed, and unless it was in fact a suit or something similar we were talking about, clothes wouldn't even enter my mind.

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