Angela’s ABCs – Words Easily Confused: Credible/Creditable/Credulous; Incredible/Incredulous
The adjective credible means believable, worthy, or trustworthy:
- She gave her evidence in composed and sincere tones, so that everyone in court found her a credible witness.
It is often used with a negative:
- His latest claims are hardly credible, as they appear to have no foundation in fact.
The adjective creditable means worthy of praise, credit or honour, though the word has an aspect to it which implies a limited kind of praise:
- The underdog candidate polled a creditable 35%.
- Although the first violinist was ill, the orchestra gave a creditable performance nonetheless.
The adjective credulous means gullible, easily deceived, tending to believe too easily or readily:
- She was a credulous girl, seduced by his promises of undying love.
- Only the most credulous people would believe the slimming claims of the herbal tea.
The adjective incredible means unbelievable or hard to believe and often applies to statements, actions, or events. In informal usage, incredible can mean amazing, surprising or extraordinary:
- The incredible story of the miners’ survival for many days after the explosion was made into a film.
- The river trip in the sunshine on the glittering water by the graceful willows was an incredible experience.
The adjective incredulous means sceptical or expressive of disbelief; it applies only to people and their attitudes:
- He couldn’t blame her for looking incredulous at his pathetic explanation for his lateness.
- The incredulous expressions on the faces of the jury revealed how little they believed of the defence case.