Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

versatile

play
adjective ver·sa·tile \ˈvər-sə-təl, especially British -ˌtī(-ə)l\

Simple Definition of versatile

  • : able to do many different things

  • : having many different uses

Full Definition of versatile

  1. 1 :  changing or fluctuating readily :  variable <a versatile disposition>

  2. 2 :  embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills; also :  turning with ease from one thing to another

  3. 3 a (1) :  capable of turning forward or backward :  reversible <a versatile toe of a bird> (2) :  capable of moving laterally and up and down <versatile antennae> b of an anther :  having the filaments attached at or near the middle so as to swing freely

  4. 4 :  having many uses or applications <versatile building material>

ver·sa·tile·ly play \-təl-(l)ē, -ˌtī(-ə)l-lē\ adverb
ver·sa·tile·ness play \-təl-nəs, -ˌtī(-ə)l-nəs\ noun

Examples of versatile

  1. Horses stand apart because of their versatile roles in human society, which came to include dairy production, transportation, haulage, plowing, sports, warfare, religion, and status. —Sandra L. Olsen, Natural History, May 2008

  2. Linemen have to be nimble, corners physical and linebackers versatile. —Peter King, Sports Illustrated, 22 Dec. 2008

  3. Adobos are the Philippines' most beloved, and most versatile, dishes. They consist of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables (such as okra and eggplant) slow-cooked in an aromatic broth of vinegar or coconut milk, garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, and, sometimes, soy sauce until virtually all the liquid has evaporated. —Amy Besa, Saveur, December 2008

  4. This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three scientists for their work on a versatile strategy for synthesizing all manner of novel chemical compounds in an environmentally friendly way. … The three scientists focused on a reaction called metathesis … —A. Cunningham, Science News, 15 Oct. 2005

  5. Within weeks [Gerd] Binnig, then 38 and with an infant daughter, worked with a colleague to build a prototype for what has become one of the most versatile scientific tools ever created: the atomic force microscope, or AFM. —Ivan Amato, Fortune, 14 June 2004

  6. She is a versatile athlete who participates in many different sports.

  7. A pocketknife is a versatile tool.



Origin of versatile

French or Latin; French, from Latin versatilis turning easily, from versare to turn, frequentative of vertere


First Known Use: 1605


VERSATILE Defined for Kids

versatile

play
adjective ver·sa·tile \ˈvər-sə-təl\

Definition of versatile

  1. 1 :  able to do many different kinds of things

  2. 2 :  having many uses <a versatile tool>



Word Root of versatile

The Latin word vertere, meaning “to turn” or “to change,” and its form versus give us the roots vert and vers. Words from the Latin vertere have something to do with turning or changing. Anything versatile, or able to do or be used for many different things, can change its task easily. A vertebra is a bone in the spine that allows an animal to turn its head or body. To avert is to turn away. To divert is to turn aside onto a new path. To revert is to turn back to a former way of being.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up versatile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image33683556

How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

2.2 pounds 16.96 pounds 100 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ