Difference Between Reliable and Dependable (With Table)

English is a fantastic language and it has various set of words which have a different meaning but are closely related and hence, create confusion in the language. One such pair of words is Reliable and Dependable. People usually get confused about the application of the two words in various situations. While some believe that they are supplementary to each other, it is not so.

Reliable and Dependable are words that describe complementary character traits. It means a reliable person can be depended on and a dependable person can be relied on. From far, there seems no difference between the two, and the dictionary says that they are synonyms of each other. 

Reliable vs Dependable

The difference between Reliable and Dependable is that dependable is used as an adjective that is used to describe a characteristic of a person or a relationship whereas Reliable is used with items like mechanical or engineering aspects or machinery generally. There is no marked contrast between the two, but their usage is a bit different.

Comparison Table Between Reliable and Dependable

Parameter of ComparisonReliableDependable
MeaningReliable is a person that can be trusted.Dependable is a person to which one can depend.
In workIf a machine is reliable, it usually means a part of it is reliable and is contributing to the whole machinery that is dependable.If a machine is dependable, it means the machine is fully tried and tested for its ability to become a dependable asset. 
In a communityThe requirements of a community might be served by reliable individuals who have the skill that can be relied on to offer when the community is in need.The requirements of a community are served by dependable individuals who commit to standing by their system and community and be trusted in doing so.
People in leadershipsPeople in leadership roles offer a single skill or quality to rely on during stressful situations.People in leadership roles that a country depends on a whole in times of stressful conditions.
Common applicationReliable is an adjective that is mostly used to address a piece of machinery or an engineering aspect.Dependable is an adjective that is mostly used to address the behavior of a person or a relationship.

What is Reliable?

Reliable is an adjective that is the indication of consistent work and competent behavior. When they operate reliably, the parts of a machine are known as reliable and can be counted on to provide good results. It is said that computers will do stuff cheaper and faster.

To do their job, reliable computers can be relied on. It is considered reliable to have longevity and mechanical strength associated with anything that is made to last.

Reliable is a term used to describe:

  1. Skilled machinery part or well-made machinery.
  2. The words of an intelligent person can be used as a witness for something important.
  3. The task is done by a skilled member of a group.
  4. A source that can be used to take reference from for writing an article.

What is Dependable?

Dependable is an adjective that used to describe which are trustworthy and can be relied on. There are characteristics and attributes symbolizing the value of a particular person or an item that has earned the title of dependable.

A dependable individual is someone whom you can count on in any situation of a higher management position of politics or governance and expect stability and loyalty. For example, if we see history, Abraham Lincon was a dependable and motivational personality.

Dependable is a term used to describe:

  1. People who can be called on for help and have trustworthy attributes.
  2. A machine which has reliable parts which makes it a sound machine as a whole to give dependable services
  3. A world leader who takes a nation forward and work for the betterment of the world. Hence, the community starts depending on this person’s choices, judgments, and actions.

Main Differences Between Reliable and Dependable

  1. Reliable is the term used to describe a thing that can be trusted whereas Dependable is used to describe an item on which one can depend.
  2. Any company or individual rely on some part of the machinery which makes the whole machinery dependable. It means a part of the machinery is reliable and the machine as a whole is dependable if it has all reliable parts.
  3. Communities depend on individuals to make the world a better place by relying on their skills and thought process along with their action sequence.
  4. In the workplace, people rely on the skill of a group member but depend on the whole team. A member of the team is reliable to make the whole team dependable. As in the case of machinery, here too, team member acts as a part of a bigger system: Team.
  5. Reliable is an adjective that is mainly used in the fields of technology and engineering to indicate the ability of an appliance whereas Dependable is the adjective used to describe an individual or a relationship. Clearly, we can say that in general usage, reliable is more related to mechanics and dependable is more related to individuals, a feeling, or a relationship.


From the above, we can see that reliable and dependable are the words that describe characteristics that are complementary and at first, you can confuse them too. It seems that the both are same with no obvious difference. However, looking closely, we see that a dependable item has reliable skills or parts associated with it. This is a very subtle difference in the general usage of the language. 

If you want to address the trait of a person, you should choose dependable over reliable whereas while addressing a machinery part, you should go for reliable over dependable. There is a very bold marked difference between the two, and a writeup with swapped use of the words cannot be said incorrectly. 


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Z4HI0RQIDK0C&oi=fnd&pg=PP12&dq=reliable+and+dependable+english&ots=wfz43vWlIO&sig=ZIkHn_wYLTzSuI_WzgITr89fHRE
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0883-2919.2005.00411.x
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