Seasonable and Seasonal

Commonly Confused Words

Same house, four seasons. (Steve Dunwell/Getty Images)

The words seasonable and seasonal both relate to the seasons of the year, but their meanings aren't quite the same. The adjective seasonable means usual or suitable for a particular season of the year; taking place at an appropriate time.

The adjective seasonal means relating to, dependent on, or characteristic of a particular season of the year. See Usage Notes, below.

Examples:

  • After enduring two years of severe drought, we are finally enjoying some seasonable weather this summer.
  • The old English song “John Barleycorn Must Die” describes the seasonal ritual of rendering grain into ale.

Usage Notes:

  • "Heat and humidity are seasonable here in summer means 'they're normal for this season of the year.' Sentimentality is seasonal at Christmas means 'it's typical or characteristic of Christmas seasons.' Seasonable can also mean 'opportune' or 'in time,' as in Their arrival was seasonable, just when we hoped for it. If people arrive seasonably, they are on time or even a bit early; if they arrive seasonally, they visit annually at about the same season of the year. Never use seasonable for seasonal (the other possible confusion almost never occurs.) Unseasonable, unseasonal, unseasonably, and unseasonally are precise antonyms of seasonable, seasonal, seasonably, and seasonally respectively."
    (Kenneth G. Wilson, The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press, 1993)
  • "Seasonal is used much more frequently than seasonable. A seasonal job is one that is available only at a particular time of the year: seasonal employment such as selling ice-creams in the summer. A seasonal change is one that takes place at a particular time of the year: Allowing for seasonal factors, unemployment dropped slightly last month."
    (Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of English Spelling. Wordsworth, 1999)
  • "If you're talkin' winter, spring, summer or fall, you're talkin' seasonal; only if you're talkin' about what's right and proper for those times are you correct to use seasonable."
    (William Safire, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time. Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Practice:

(a) The lack of _____ clothing was one of the greatest hardships experienced by the children of the frontier.

(b) In the early nineteenth century, there was a significant increase in the scale of _____ migration from Ireland to Britain during the harvest season.

Answers: 

(a) The lack of seasonable clothing was one of the greatest hardships experienced by the children of the frontier.

(b) In the early nineteenth century, there was a significant increase in the scale of seasonal migration from Ireland to Britain during the harvest season.

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Seasonable and Seasonal." ThoughtCo, Apr. 11, 2017, thoughtco.com/seasonable-and-seasonal-1689489. Nordquist, Richard. (2017, April 11). Seasonable and Seasonal. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/seasonable-and-seasonal-1689489 Nordquist, Richard. "Seasonable and Seasonal." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/seasonable-and-seasonal-1689489 (accessed January 17, 2018).