able

adjective
\ 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 able (audio) \;ablest\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce able (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 verbs breakablecollectible
2 : tending, given, or liable to agreeable perishable

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from able

Adjective suffix

-ably or less commonly -ibly adverb suffix

Synonyms & Antonyms for able

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House and a bare majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break a tie in the upper chamber. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, "Biden campaign pledge to Beto O'Rourke on leading gun control push appears to be an empty one," 15 Feb. 2021 Some manufacturing plants may be able to lower their emissions by plugging into an electricity grid run on renewable energy. Katy Daigle, Star Tribune, "Bill Gates warns that manufacturing could challenge climate goals," 15 Feb. 2021 Dozens of people, including many reporters, weren’t able to listen. Victoria Bekiempis, Wired, "How Covid Gums Up the Court System," 15 Feb. 2021 Trump, who has been banned from Twitter since the January riots, was not able to respond to the adoration expressed on the site. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "On social media, Trump both cheered and jeered for Presidents Day," 15 Feb. 2021 Studies have shown that the body's virus-fighting cells are able to remember the pathogen from a previous illness and attack, either killing the infection or staving off more severe symptoms. Meryl Kornfield, BostonGlobe.com, "First known patient reinfected with South Africa coronavirus variant is in critical condition," 14 Feb. 2021 Oglesby was able to slow down Davis after his hot start, Gates pointed out. cleveland, "Cleveland State overcomes abysmal start, maintains share of first in Horizon League with 71-64 win over Detroit Mercy," 14 Feb. 2021 In less isolated times, when people are able to gather together to mourn, family members can circle together and comfort each other personally. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Brother’s sudden death brings acute grief, loss of family connection," 14 Feb. 2021 City officials say most middle schools will be able to accommodate many students five days a week. Eliza Shapiro, New York Times, "New York Was the 1st Big School District to Reopen. Here’s What Happened.," 14 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about able

Time Traveler for able

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for able

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Able.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/able. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

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.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on able

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for able

Nglish: Translation of able for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of able for Arabic Speakers

Comments on able

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!