ability

noun
abil·i·ty | \ə-ˈbi-lə-tē \
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

With only 49 votes in the Senate, Democrats have little ability to block the nominee from moving forward. NBC News, "Progressive group launches ad campaign urging Democrats to oppose Kavanaugh," 13 July 2018 The Vietnamese Communist party’s ability to retain power at the same time as freeing markets must appeal to Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, who has vowed to improve his country’s economy. The Economist, "Is North Korea the next Vietnam? Don’t count on it," 12 July 2018 People asking for his abilities, for connections, for advice, for help finding a lost pet, for proof that their loved one was okay, was still there, somewhere, thinking about them, too. Alessandra Codinha, Vogue, "Seatbelt Psychic Puts A Celebrity Medium in the Driver's Seat," 11 July 2018 Using his Spanish-speaking abilities, Reyes has served as an ambassador to the Latino community, explaining how the department deals with immigration issues, Manley said. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "‘He’s just a doer’: Meet Seattle police-chief candidate Ely Reyes," 9 July 2018 His ability to take the extra base without making outs. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Forget numbers when deciding Billy Hamilton's value to the Cincinnati Reds," 7 July 2018 With his distinct facial features and impaired abilities, Tony is shaped forever by his mother’s drinking. Joan Gaylord, The Christian Science Monitor, "'There There' weaves a powerful tale of contemporary urban Native Americans," 2 July 2018 Placed into an algorithm alongside other personal information like birthplace, gender, and specific abilities, NAO was given a personalized framework for each of these children. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Robotic AI Helping Autistic Kids Read Emotions," 29 June 2018 His ability to get the puck out of his zone, see the ice and find teammates is what drew the Hawks to him in the first place. Jimmy Greenfield, chicagotribune.com, "Blackhawks aim to find out if Henri Jokiharju is ready for the NHL," 13 July 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near ability

Abilene

-abilia

abiliment

ability

-ability

abilla

abilo

Statistics for ability

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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 \
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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