able

adjective
\ ˈā-bəl \

Definition of able

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having sufficient power, skill, or resources to do something able to solve a problem
b : having the freedom or opportunity to do something hopes to be able to visit soon
c : having a quality or nature that makes something possible a car able to hold five people : susceptible to some action or treatment a shoe able to be repaired
2 abler\ -​b(ə-​)lər \; ablest\ -​b(ə-​)ləst \ : marked by intelligence, knowledge, skill, or competence an able administrator
variants: or less commonly -ible

Definition of -able (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : capable of, fit for, or worthy of (being so acted upon or toward) chiefly in adjectives derived from verbs breakablecollectible
2 : tending, given, or liable to agreeable perishable

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Other Words from able

Adjective

ably \ ˈā-​b(ə-​)lē \ adverb
a task performed ably

Adjective suffix

-ably or less commonly -ibly adverb suffix

Synonyms & Antonyms for able

Synonyms: Adjective

capable, competent, equal, fit, good, qualified, suitable

Antonyms: Adjective

incompetent, inept, poor, unfit, unfitted, unqualified

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Choose the Right Synonym for able

Adjective

able and capable mean having the power to do or accomplish. able may be used for someone who has exceptional skill and has done well in the past. She is an able surgeon with years of experience. capable is usually used to describe someone who has the characteristics suitable for a particular kind of work. The recruits soon proved to be capable soldiers.

Examples of able in a Sentence

Adjective

He will buy a new car as soon as he is able. He turned out to be an able editor. She is one of the ablest lawyers in the firm.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The report also found respondents saying the odds of losing a job have risen, as have the probabilities of voluntarily leaving a job and being able to find a new one. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, "N.Y. Fed Consumer Survey Finds More Negativity About the Outlook in January," 11 Feb. 2019 When the tide is low, visitors will be able to walk between the two buildings on a pathway that stretches into the ocean. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Otherworldly new museum is built into a sand dune," 17 Dec. 2018 Research shows that fat cells in those who are sleep-deprived are less able to respond properly to insulin, which may lead to weight gain. Karyn Repinski, Woman's Day, "New Research Links Belly Fat to an Increased Risk of Heart Attacks in Women," 23 Jan. 2019 While Khloé might have been able to keep it cool in the delivery room, her sisters were not as forgiving. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kourtney Kardashian Clapped Back at Tristan Thompson Right After Khloé Gave Birth," 19 Nov. 2018 Their pediatrician referred them to Dr. Ruy Carrasco, a pediatric rheumatologist, who was able to make the PANDAS diagnosis and break down what was happening to Sawyer for them. Erin Quinn-kong, Good Housekeeping, "Their Son Tested Positive for Strep Throat. Then Came the Severe OCD, Anxiety, and Hallucinations.," 2 Jan. 2019 Photo: Fabrizio Costantini for the Wall Street Journal During rounds the next morning, Mr. Hayes was able to make a thumbs-up sign and answer to yes-or-no questions. Thomas M. Burton, WSJ, "Hospitals Rush to Offer New Stroke Treatment," 26 Dec. 2018 During season 15’s Top 10 elimination night, Reagan wasn’t able to perform due to an unconfirmed illness. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'The Voice' Pairs Reagan Strange With Kennedy Holmes a Week After DeAndre Nico Controversy," 10 Dec. 2018 And in addition, appointing an employee representative to the Board to be able to make recommendations. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "After 20,000 workers walked out, Google said it got the message. The workers disagree.," 21 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'able.' 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 able

Adjective

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

History and Etymology for able

Adjective

Middle English able, abill, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin habilis "easily handled or adjusted, adaptable," from habēre "to have, hold" + -ilis, alteration (by haplology before labial consonants) of -ibilis -ible — more at give entry 1

Adjective suffix

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French and Middle French, going back to Latin -ābilis, -ibilis, from -ā-, -i- (thematic vowels of various conjugations of verbs) + -bilis "capable (of acting) or worthy of (being acted upon)," going back to pre-Latin *-dhl-is, adjective suffix formed from the instrumental noun suffix *-dhl-om (whence Latin -bulum)

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Dictionary Entries near able

ablaut

ablaze

-able

able

able-bodied

able-bodied seaman

abled

Statistics for able

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for able

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

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More Definitions for able

English Language Learners Definition of -able

: fit for or worthy of being
: likely to or capable of
: having a certain quality

able

adjective
\ ˈā-bəl \
abler\ -​blər \; ablest\ -​bləst \

Kids Definition of able

1 : having enough power, resources, or skill to do something Are you able to swim?
2 : having the freedom or opportunity to do something I'll come when I'm able.
3 : having or showing much skill an able dancer
variants: also -ible \ ə-​bəl \

Kids Definition of -able

1 : capable of, fit for, or worthy of being lovable flexible
2 : tending or likely to changeable

Other Words from able

-ably also -ibly \ ə-​blē \ adverb suffix adorably

able

adjective

Legal Definition of able

1 : possessed of needed powers or of needed resources to accomplish an objective able to perform under the contract
2 : having freedom from restriction or obligation or from conditions preventing an action able to vote
3 : legally qualified : possessed of legal competence able to inherit property

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More from Merriam-Webster on able

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with able

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for able

Spanish Central: Translation of able

Nglish: Translation of able for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of able for Arabic Speakers

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