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

Nonetheless, Brexit advocates have long argued that the ability to strike independent trade deals is a positive thing for the country. David Meyer, Fortune, "There's One Subject in the U.K. That's as Toxic as Brexit. Trump Just Waded Into It," 4 June 2019 With so many talented attackers at Madrid, the striker's ability to bring others into play is as important as their own individual contribution to a game. SI.com, "Luka Jovic or Karim Benzema: Assessing Who Should Lead the Line for Real Madrid Next Season," 4 June 2019 Bill Ripken broke down Witt’s abilities on the MLB Network while showing the blast at Wrigley: Bobby Witt Jr. has already done some raking in big league ballparks. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Royals’ draft pick Bobby Witt Jr. already has displayed power stroke at MLB parks," 4 June 2019 The third big area of team investigation for VCs focuses on the founder’s leadership abilities. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "How Early-Stage VCs Decide Where to Invest," 4 June 2019 In terms of technical ability, few players in the women's game can match Heath's repertoire of tight ball control, swift runs and unpredictability. Steve Goff, courant.com, "The stars to watch at the Women’s World Cup," 4 June 2019 Going hand in hand with an on-watch App Store is the new ability for developers to make independent apps for the Apple Watch. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple’s watchOS 6 brings new apps (and various iPhone apps) to Watch," 3 June 2019 The ability to read quick audio segments is coming to the Apple Watch, along with several new watch faces. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY, "Apple WWDC 2019: What's coming this fall to iOS 13, Watch OS and iPad," 3 June 2019 The blood-alcohol limit in the state for a DUI is 0.08 percent or higher and 0.05 percent or higher for a driving while ability impaired charge. Saja Hindi, The Denver Post, "322 Colorado drivers cited on suspicion of driving while impaired over Memorial Day weekend," 3 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

7 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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