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

Sustainability provides the ability to design and produce indefinitely. Emily Farra, Vogue, "4 Ways the CFDA’s New Sustainability Report Will Change Your Fashion Week Conversations," 16 Jan. 2019 That means creating mountains of personal stuff in categorical heaps and owning up to mankind’s extraordinary ability to accumulate. Lonnie Firestone, Glamour, "It Took a Fire in My Building to Understand Marie Kondo's Method," 15 Jan. 2019 The question for Murray is if his exceptional arm and playmaking abilities transcend his stature. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Baseball Wants Kyler Murray. But He Wants Football.," 15 Jan. 2019 The procedure does nothing to change the body's ability to store fat—and CoolSculpting doesn't prevent the body from storing excess calories if someone gains weight. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Everything You Need to Know About CoolSculpting (and Were Too Afraid to Ask)," 11 Jan. 2019 Reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights are central to women’s ability to control their destiny, to maintain their economic independence, and their family life. Rebecca Nelson, Marie Claire, "2019's Barrier-Breaking Politicians Get to Work," 3 Jan. 2019 With the time and freedom to establish personal relationships, and the ability to quickly test ideas for validation and further discovery, Invanti embodied a more grassroots and inexpensive version of the learn-quick-and-iterate model of innovation. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How a Midwest startup generator bursts the Bay Area tech bubble and solves real problems," 12 Dec. 2018 The conservative bill also would have provided some 700,000 recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program the ability to apply for indefinite renewals of legal nonimmigrant status every three years. Gregg Re, Fox News, "House GOP abruptly scraps planned vote on troubled immigration bill, saying it could pass next week," 2 Oct. 2018 One key reason is having the ability to negotiate with the owner over the price or duration of your stay. Adam Schubak, Country Living, "The Best Tips For Affordable Trips and Travel on Any Budget," 19 Dec. 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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Learn More about ability

Dictionary Entries near ability

Abilene

-abilia

abiliment

ability

-ability

abilla

abilo

Statistics for ability

Last Updated

18 Jan 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 \
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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