ability

play
noun abil·i·ty \ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

Definition of ability

plural

abilities

  1. 1 a :  the quality or state of being able <ability of soil to hold water>; especially :  physical, mental, or legal power to perform b :  competence in doing :  skill

  2. 2 :  natural aptitude or acquired proficiency <students with different abilities>

Examples of ability in a sentence

  1. a young woman with many remarkable musical abilities

  2. a young woman of great musical ability

  3. She has shown some ability with foreign languages.

Origin and Etymology of ability

Middle English abilite, from Anglo-French, from Latin habilitat-, habilitas, from habilis apt, skillful — more at able


First Known Use: 14th century


-ability

noun suffix abil·i·ty

Definition of -ability

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

Variants of -ability

less commonly

-ibility

Origin and Etymology of -ability

Middle English -abilite, -ibilite, from Anglo-French -abilité, -ibilité, from Latin -abilitas, -ibilitas, from -abilis, -ibilis -able + -tas -ty



ABILITY Defined for English Language Learners

ability

play
noun abil·i·ty \ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

Definition of ability for English Language Learners

  • : the power or skill to do something


-ability

noun suffix abil·i·ty

Definition of -ability for English Language Learners

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


ABILITY Defined for Kids

ability

play
noun abil·i·ty \ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

Definition of ability for Students

plural

abilities

  1. 1 :  power to do something <The cleaner has the ability to kill germs.>

  2. 2 :  natural talent or acquired skill <great musical ability>


-ability

noun suffix -abil·i·ty \ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\

Definition of -ability for Students

plural

-abilities

also

-ibilities

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

Variants of -ability

also

-ibility

\ə-ˈbi-lə-tē\


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

very important or noticeable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • alphabet-magnets
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ