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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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 The ability to make kicks has always been there, but the confidence has grown. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Kicker James Turner turned a question mark into a certainty for Louisville football," 19 Nov. 2020 Boeing's redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has scared away passengers and decimated the aviation industry, limiting the company's ability to make a comeback. CBS News, "FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again nearly 2 years after fatal crashes," 19 Nov. 2020 What’s more, state and federal regulations limit Amazon’s ability to make use of its existing logistics network. Matt Day, Bloomberg.com, "Amazon's Drugstore Isn't Revolutionizing Anything—for Now," 18 Nov. 2020 Boeing’s redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has scared away passengers and decimated the aviation industry, limiting the company’s ability to make a comeback. David Koenig And Tom Krisher, The Christian Science Monitor, "Boeing 737 Max cleared by FAA to take to the skies again," 18 Nov. 2020 The aircraft maker's redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has scared away passengers and decimated the aviation industry, limiting the company's ability to make a comeback. Arkansas Online, "FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again," 18 Nov. 2020 Boeing’s redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has scared away passengers and decimated the aviation industry, limiting the company’s ability to make a comeback. David Koenig, chicagotribune.com, "FAA approves Boeing 737 Max to fly again, a milestone for Chicago-based Boeing," 18 Nov. 2020 The aircraft maker’s redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has scared away passengers and decimated the aviation industry, limiting the company’s ability to make a comeback. David Koenig, Anchorage Daily News, "FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again, but passengers won’t see them right away," 18 Nov. 2020 John Goodspeed, a friend and former Express-News colleague, said that Strait had a special ability to make something of very little. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Strait was a skilled outdoor writer and a dance hall maestro," 16 Nov. 2020

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

Time Traveler for ability

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ability

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ability. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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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

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.

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Comments on ability

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