by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

viable adj. 

  1. Capable of living, as a newborn infant reaching a stage of development that will permit it to survive and develop under normal conditions. 
  2. Capable of living, developing, or germinating under favorable conditions, as seeds spores or eggs. 
  3. Capable of actualization, as a project; practicable. 
Here is another perfectly viable word born or hatched (sense 1 or 2) in science, appropriated by government and business (sense 3) then smothered in overuse.
  • A viable candidate cultivates a viable constituency by running a viable campaign taking viable positions on viable issues, then once in office supports viable programs.
  • A proposal for a viable project to develop a viable product for manufacture by a viable enterprise with viable capitalization under a viable management team with a viable sales force to capture a viable share of a viable market in a viable economy -- such a proposal is viable.
For some persons, "viable" has become the catch-all adjective, replacing all the...
  • acceptable,
  • agreeable,
  • capable,
  • desirable,
  • eligible,
  • fashionable,
  • knowledgeable,
  • likeable,
  • sizable,
  • suitable,
  • preferable,
  • unobjectionable

 Then too, "viable" has served as a crooked euphemism.

  • "Not a viable investment" means "A business debacle."
  • "The approach is not viable" means "Your idea stinks."
About all I find viable good for is inducing smirks.  Not a viable word, in my book.

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