ability

noun
abil·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce ability (audio) \
plural abilities

Definition of ability

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the quality or state of being able the ability of the soil to hold water especially : physical, mental, or legal power to do something a writer's ability to engage the reader's interest did the work to the best of her ability [=as well as she could]
b : competence in doing something : skill artistic abilities
2 : natural aptitude or acquired proficiency students with different abilities

-ability

noun suffix
variants: or less commonly -ibility

Definition of -ability (Entry 2 of 2)

: capacity, fitness, or tendency to act or be acted on in a (specified) way agglutinability

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Choose the Right Synonym for ability

Noun

ability and talent mean physical or mental power to do or accomplish something. ability may be used of an inborn power to do something especially well. Many athletes have the ability to run fast. talent is used for an unusual ability to create things. You should develop your talent for writing short stories.

Examples of ability in a Sentence

Noun

a young woman with many remarkable musical abilities a young woman of great musical ability She has shown some ability with foreign languages.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Wisconsin governors can strike out individual words from bills with appropriations, giving them the ability to substantially change legislation. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin Assembly approves bills on homelessness, regulation of 5G technology," 18 June 2019 And the ability for the properties of those objects to influence their reproductive rates. Quanta Magazine, "First Support for a Physics Theory of Life," 16 June 2019 Unfortunately the ability to communicate successfully across other barriers, whether geopolitical or simply personal, is currently eluding the Christians of the East, or at least their hierarchs. Erasmus, The Economist, "The gift of overcoming barriers eludes the world’s Orthodox Christians," 15 June 2019 San Francisco Chronicle The California Democratic Party is considering a proposal to allow noncitizens to serve as delegates, giving them the ability to vote in party elections. Julia Wick, latimes.com, "Essential California: What it was like to photograph the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase," 13 June 2019 Kyle Boone of CBS Sports: Nickeil Alexander-Walker of Virginia Tech Alexander-Walker has the shot-making ability -- particularly as a spot-up 3-point shooter -- to be impactful from day one in Indiana. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "NBA Draft 2019: What if IU basketball's Romeo Langford is available for the Pacers?," 13 June 2019 While some airlines now give people with foreign passports the ability to join opt-out lines, there may come a day when that goes away. Anchorage Daily News, "How to avoid facial recognition at the airport," 11 June 2019 Officials are waiting to see if the governor signs a bill passed by the Legislature this year that would give cities the ability to allow scooters to operate on streets and in bike lanes. Larry Barszewski, sun-sentinel.com, "Electric scooters booted from Fort Lauderdale beach for summer," 10 June 2019 In fact, until 2017 tribal police did not have the ability to issue Amber Alerts for missing children—even in Montana, where at press time at least 30 percent of missing children are Native American. Eric Ogden, Marie Claire, "The Invisible Victims," 10 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ability.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ability

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ability

Noun

Middle English ablete, abilite, habilite "suitability, proficiency, ability," borrowed from Anglo-French abilité, borrowed from Latin habilitāt-, habilitās "aptitude," from habilis "easy to handle, adaptable, fit" + -tāt-, -tās -ty — more at able

Noun suffix

Middle English -ablete, -abilite, -iblete, -ibilite, borrowed from Anglo-French -ableté, -abilité, -ibleté, -ibilité, borrowed from Latin -abilitās, -ibilitās, from -abilis, -ibilis -able + -tās -ty

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Learn More about ability

Dictionary Entries near ability

Abilene

-abilia

abiliment

ability

-ability

abilla

abilo

Statistics for ability

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ability

The first known use of ability was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for ability

-ability

noun suffix

English Language Learners Definition of -ability

: ability, fitness, or likeliness to act or be acted on in (such) a way

ability

noun
abil·​i·​ty | \ ə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce ability (audio) \
plural abilities

Kids Definition of ability

1 : power to do something The cleaner has the ability to kill germs.
2 : natural talent or acquired skill great musical ability

-ability

noun suffix
-abil·​i·​ty
variants: also -ibility \ ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \
plural -abilities also -ibilities

Kids Definition of -ability

: ability, fitness, or likeliness to act or be acted upon in (such) a way capability visibility

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Comments on ability

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