\ ˈā-bəl How to pronounce able (audio) \

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\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce abler (audio) \;ablest\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce ablest (audio) \ : 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 verbsbreakablecollectible
2 : tending, given, or liable to agreeable perishable

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Other Words from able

Adjective

ably \ ˈā-​b(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ably (audio) \ adverb
a task performed ably

Adjective suffix

-ably or less commonly -ibly adverb suffix

Synonyms & Antonyms for able

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 result is a languid oil market barely able to rouse itself even when conflict threatens in the Persian Gulf. Washington Post, "Even Boone Pickens Is Falling Out of Love With Oil," 18 Sep. 2019 So kick off your week right with this GIF-able science. Scientific American, "Drenchable Drones, Prickly Cells and Face-Tracked Chimps: Science GIFs to Start Your Week," 16 Sep. 2019 Michael Bottlang surveyed the vast Wilsonville warehouse this week, hands on his hips, barely able to suppress his glee. oregonlive, "WaveCel bursts onto the bike scene, expands into Wilsonville facility," 16 Sep. 2019 Coaches, already able to challenge goalie interference and offside, can now do so for missed stoppages of play in the offensive zone that lead to goals. BostonGlobe.com, "(Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe)," 15 Sep. 2019 Debbie Tatum of Baltimore, 64, stood with her grandchildren, Arianna and James Wheeler, 9 and 7, respectively, and seemed hardly able to believe her eyes. Jonathan Pitts, baltimoresun.com, "‘This is amazing!’: Thousands pack Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Central Library after massive renovation," 14 Sep. 2019 To make matters worse, such forests are generally not able to recover once they’ve been removed. National Geographic, "Amazon fish species at risk if fires destroy river habitat," 13 Sep. 2019 Our eyes become more sensitive to glare, slower to adjust to light, or less able to make a distinction between similar colors. Healthy Aging Leadership Team, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Health Dept.: Falls leading cause of injuries for older Americans, but not inevitable," 13 Sep. 2019 So, the commission isn’t able to determine if Yang’s plan is within the rules, at least for now. cleveland.com, "Andrew Yang offers to give away $12,000 to 10 families. Can he even do that?," 13 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for able

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for able

Last Updated

25 Oct 2019

Cite this Entry

“Able.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/-ably. Accessed 13 December 2019.

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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
\ ˈā-bəl How to pronounce able (audio) \
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

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for able

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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