Definition of ability
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
Examples of ability in a Sentence
a young woman with many remarkable musical abilities
a young woman of great musical ability
She has shown some ability with foreign languages.
Recent Examples of ability from the Web
Its goal is to restrict the company's ability to post information on IMDb.com about the ages of people in the entertainment industry.
Those discussions have been possible because Mr. Assad, secure in his support from Moscow and Tehran, no longer sees a fundamental threat to his ability to remain in power.
The health bill’s failure has seriously damaged McConnell’s reputation and raised doubts about his ability to push through the rest of Trump’s agenda, but the vast majority of Republican senators remain supportive.
The labrum usually tears off the bone and does not have the ability to heal itself.
Parkgoers in Orlando have already had that ability, although without an additional charge.
But as other nations and foes expand their use of cyberspying and attacks, the U.S. is determined to improve its ability to incorporate cyber operations into its everyday warfighting.
While monkeys were unable to think too far into the future, great apes like chimps, bonobos and orangutans showed the ability to plan.
Huffington appeared to have the ability to overlook the consequences of putting her reporters into such awkward situations.
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.
Origin and Etymology of ability
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
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
Definition of -ability
: capacity, fitness, or tendency to act or be acted on in a (specified) way agglutinability
ABILITY Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of ability for Students
1 : power to do something The cleaner has the ability to kill germs.
2 : natural talent or acquired skill great musical ability
Definition of -ability for Students
: ability, fitness, or likeliness to act or be acted upon in (such) a way capability visibility
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