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

Isaiah Thomas had a higher projection, but Ellington's ability to stretch the floor and come off screens is an easier fit in almost any situation. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Heat's Wayne Ellington ranks among best of unsigned free agents," 5 July 2018 Some audience members pushed back on this, arguing that the ability to name names is important, especially for incidents that aren’t overt harassment or assault. Diana Budds, Curbed, "#MeToo hit architecture. Now what?," 5 July 2018 First is the robot's ability to navigate while effectively blind. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "MIT's Cheetah 3 Has a Precision Pounce," 5 July 2018 The 2018 series champion won't have to win at all of these places to wear the crown but the ability to deliver quality results at all types of tracks has been and will continue to be crucial. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar: 5 storylines as series heads to Hunter-Reay's home away from home, Iowa Speedway," 5 July 2018 Klannish nativism was ever flexible, as was its ability to respond to local conditions. Longreads, "Oregon’s Racist Past," 12 July 2018 His speed and power are a challenge for even the toughest of defenders, and his ability with the ball at his feet is clear. SI.com, "Why Ruben Loftus-Cheek Will Make it at Chelsea Following Breakout Season at Crystal Palace," 12 July 2018 Nevertheless, the ability of this expansion to seemingly rejuvenate itself is noteworthy. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Xiaomi Flop, Brexit Resignation, Formula Lobbying: CEO Daily for July 9, 2018," 9 July 2018 Brad’s ability to bring all those communities together to work for the public interest was extraordinary. Susan Demar Lafferty, Daily Southtown, "Brad Veerman remembered as a 'great public servant'," 9 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

13 Sep 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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