Borrowed from Middle French satisfactoire, from Late Latin satisfactōrius, from Latin satisfactus, past participle of satisfaciō.


  • IPA(key): /sætɪsˈfækt(ə)ɹi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -æktəɹi


satisfactory (comparative more satisfactory, superlative most satisfactory)

  1. Done to satisfaction; adequate or sufficient.
    The satisfactory results of the survey led to his promotion.
    • 1955, Erich Fromm, The Sane Society[1], Fawcet:
      The criterion of mental health is not one of individual adjustment to a given social order, but a universal one, valid for all men, of giving a satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
  2. Causing satisfaction; agreeable or pleasant; satisfying.
    • 1870, Charles Dudley Warner, “Preliminary”, in My Summer in a Garden, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, page 15:
      To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch their renewal of life,—this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.
  3. (theology) Making atonement for a sin; expiatory.
    • 1623, John Mayer, The English Catechisme Explained, third edition, London: Aug. Mathewes, page 36:
      [] therefore the ſuffering of any other nature could not bee ſo pertinent, nor kindly ſatisfactory.

Usage notesEdit

Although structurally similar (both being derived from satisfy and describing that which produces satisfaction), satisfactory (def. 1) and satisfying differ in connotation. Satisfactory connotes "adequate, conforming to standards," while satisfying connotes "pleasing, or sufficient to remove any feeling of lack." An answer to a question or the outcome of a situation, for example, could be satisfactory without being satisfying, if it met the requirements but left one wanting more.

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Related termsEdit