Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Reliable and Dependable

Dependable and reliable are words to describe character traits that are complimentary.  Dependable people can be relied on and reliable people can be depended on.  At first glance there seems to be no obvious difference between the two words other than their spelling.  The dictionary refers to dependable as a synonym of reliable and reliable as a synonym for dependable.  Clearly, they are close in meaning.  There does appear to be a subtle difference in general usage and that is a preference may be given to dependable as an adjective more frequently used to describe people and relationships.  Reliable on the other hand generally fits better with machinery, mechanical or engineering aspects of life when a reliable possession is sought after.  There is no marked difference between these two adjectives, but in their usage a slight difference may be apparent. 


What is a Reliable?

The adjective reliable is indictive of competent behavior and consistent work. The parts of a machine are classified as reliable when they work consistently and can be relied on to give good performance. Machines, it is said, can do things cheaper and better…for example:

 ‘ATM machines are better than tellers if you want a simple trans-action. They are faster, they’re less trouble.  They’re more reliable,’ says Geoff Hinton, a cognitive psychologist and computer scientist.  Geoff Hinton works for Google Brain and lectures at the University of Toronto.

 Reliable machines can be counted on to do their work. Mechanical strength and the longevity associated with something that is built to last is considered reliable.   

Reliable is used  to describe:

  • Sound well-made machinery. 

 The components of the reliable machine were supplied by a company with a guaranteed reputation.

  • The word of a wise person as a witness. 

 The reliable witness testified at the trial and his evidence was the deciding factor in convicting the criminal.

  • The work of a dedicated member of a team or group.

The Red Cross team relied on the work of their exceptional medical staff and highly qualified doctors who were reliable and dedicated.

  • The source of a reference in essay writing.

Professors count on the reliable sources of information found on the internet to authenticate their lectures and dissertations.


What is Dependable?

The adjective dependable is used to describe items that are trustworthy and reliable.  These are character traits or attributes marking the value of an item or of the person who has earned the title of dependable.  A dependable person is someone who gives reliable service and is loyal and stable.  The dependable person is someone you can count on in the workplace or at home or even in the greater management field of governance and politics.  There are many names in history that stand out and resonate with dependability.  Abraham Lincoln was dependable, and his quotes still motivate today.  

For example: ‘Be sure you put your feet in the right place and then stand firm.’ Are words from a dependable leader and words applicable in society today.

The political leadership of Winston Churchill during the second World War enabled the country to depend on his leadership and survive the terrors of a war.

‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.’ These are some of the words from Winston Churchill that people can depend on because as a leader he was trustworthy and had earned respect.  These words are relatable even today and recognized as the wise words of a dependable leader.

The attribute of reliability is a part of being dependable, but the later appears to be a deeper character trait.  Dependable people can be trusted to give their everything to their work and families, their sports team or community.  Dependable, although more people orientated, will describe machinery with the parts noted and counted as reliable while the machine is dependable. 

Dependable is used to describe:

  • People who have trustworthy characteristics and can be called on to help.

The head of department in the field of human resources is a dependable member of the organization and relied on for his dedicated service.

  • A machine with reliable parts making it a sound machine giving good dependable service.

The latest computerized earthmoving equipment depends on all it’s reliable part function simultaneously to get the job done effectively.

  • A politician or world leader who takes the country forward and leads by example is dependable.  The community depends on this person’s judgement and inspiration.

The leadership qualities and the strength of character of the senator made him a dependable member of the current political campaign.


Difference between being dependable or reliable. 

  1. In the home: 

Reliable appliances will give good service and the persons who operate the appliances are depended on to provide for the needs of the home.  The two go hand in hand, but the emphasis on service for the word reliable makes the comparison slightly different.  The difference can be seen  by comparing a piece of equipment as reliable and the person who operates it as dependable.

  1. In the workplace:

Specific employees are relied on to deliver the expertise they have brought to the workplace.  There may be different skills to rely on depending on the nature of the work environment.  A dependable person in the workplace can be trusted to oversea work being done and be depended on to get work completed.  A dependable person will always deliver and find a way to make sure the other employees complete their tasks.

  1. In the community:

Communities need reliable and dependable people to ensure the greater good of the community is prioritized.  A citizen can be reliable in circumstances requiring a community service.  The dependable citizen is available to help and volunteer in times of need.  The dependable person is available at any time to be of assistance and maintain the standards set by the community. The community values the dependable person for their attention to duty and vigilance.  The reliable person may be relied on for certain skills they have and to use those skills at that time, but the dependable person takes their responsibility deeper and has a greater concern for the overall good of the community.

Dependable versus Reliable: Tabular form


Summary of Reliable and Dependable

  • Dependable and reliable are two qualities that define good character, but a dependable person is the one that will always be reliable at the same time. The dependable person is always the person to count on .
  • Reliable machinery is to be trusted to get the job done effectively and in designing a machine one would look for reliable parts.  The combination of the reliable parts makes the machine more dependable.
  • Dependable leadership is a quality look for to put reliable policies in place.  Without a dependable leader, communities may suffer and look for other reliable sources to depend on for peace and harmony.  These two attributes are important for successful leadership.
  • Communities rely on dependable members to create a safe and secure environment for the members of the community. This will make the difference for the home environment, the work place or for the greater good of a country.
  • Many people depend on machinery for transportation.  The transport relies on sound components to create a dependable car, train, bus or aviation service.  It is the reliable service that people depend on to function successfully.
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References :

[0]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/india_7/14741920698

[1]Image credit: https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/02/07/12/17/china-1184517_960_720.jpg

[2]Leonard.Kimberly.Dependability in the workforce.wwwsmallbusinesschron.com/example-dependability-in-the-workplace-34899.june29/2018.pub.Hearst Newspapers LTD.reviewed 24/09/2018

[3]Moore Jeffrey. Abraham Lincoln quotes. wwweverydaypower.blog.com/Abraham-Lincoln-quotes. Reviewed 223/09/2018

[4]Winston Churchill quotes.www.goalcaste.com/Winston-churchill-quotes-to-inspire-you. June 20 2017.pub@goalcaste.com.reviewed 24/09/2018

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