\ ˈā-bəl How to pronounce able (audio) \

Definition of able

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : having sufficient power, skill, or resources to do something able to solve a problem
b : having the freedom or opportunity to do something hopes to be able to visit soon
c : having a quality or nature that makes something possible a car able to hold five people : susceptible to some action or treatment a shoe able to be repaired
2 abler\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce abler (audio) \;ablest\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce ablest (audio) \ : marked by intelligence, knowledge, skill, or competence an able administrator
variants: or less commonly -ible

Definition of -able (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : capable of, fit for, or worthy of (being so acted upon or toward) chiefly in adjectives derived from verbsbreakablecollectible
2 : tending, given, or liable to agreeable perishable

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Other Words from able

Adjective suffix

-ably or less commonly -ibly adverb suffix

Synonyms & Antonyms for able

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of able in a Sentence

Adjective He will buy a new car as soon as he is able. He turned out to be an able editor. She is one of the ablest lawyers in the firm.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Herbert wasn’t able to get any on-field reps during the offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic. oregonlive, "Will Justin Herbert play in 2020? 10 questions facing the Los Angeles Chargers as NFL training camp opens," 3 Aug. 2020 Starting Saturday, all travelers coming to Germany will be able to get free coronavirus tests up 72 hours after arrival, according to a new directive from Germany's health ministry. Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, "Thousands gather in Berlin to protest against Covid-19 restrictions," 1 Aug. 2020 There's a chance not all teams will be able to get in 60 regular-season games. CBS News, "MLB commissioner confident league will get through season as more players opt out," 1 Aug. 2020 Club teams haven’t been able to play matches this summer because of the pandemic, but athletes who play outside of school at least got to take part in tryouts and/or clinics with their clubs. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "Dallas-area volleyball teams get creative when forced outdoors by county restrictions," 30 July 2020 After visiting three separate veterinarians, Robert was finally able to get his dog tested for the virus on May 15, and learned a few days later that the dog had tested positive. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "New York German Shepherd, the First Dog to Test Positive for Coronavirus in the U.S., Has Died," 30 July 2020 That’s how the school is able to get some of those previously uncollectable fines from the failure to register violations. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Why permits cost so much, the deal with boots and other Alabama parking FAQs," 30 July 2020 The conference-only schedules are dependent on the sports being able to play at all this fall. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "No Ohio State football trip to Oregon; Big Ten announces conference-only games for 2020," 9 July 2020 Trentacost told the North Jersey Herald that Bruno was able to get out of her vehicle, but the current was traveling at 30 miles per hour and quickly pulled the driver and her car into a a brook that ran beneath the city. Gabrielle Chung, PEOPLE.com, "New Jersey Woman Survives After Being Swept Through Storm Drain for Nearly a Mile During Flash Flood," 13 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'able.' 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 able


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for able


Middle English able, abill, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin habilis "easily handled or adjusted, adaptable," from habēre "to have, hold" + -ilis, alteration (by haplology before labial consonants) of -ibilis -ible — more at give entry 1

Adjective suffix

Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French and Middle French, going back to Latin -ābilis, -ibilis, from -ā-, -i- (thematic vowels of various conjugations of verbs) + -bilis "capable (of acting) or worthy of (being acted upon)," going back to pre-Latin *-dhl-is, adjective suffix formed from the instrumental noun suffix *-dhl-om (whence Latin -bulum)

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Time Traveler for able

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for able

Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Able.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/able. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for able

English Language Learners Definition of -able

: fit for or worthy of being
: likely to or capable of
: having a certain quality
\ ˈā-bəl How to pronounce able (audio) \
abler\ -​blər \; ablest\ -​bləst \

Kids Definition of able

1 : having enough power, resources, or skill to do something Are you able to swim?
2 : having the freedom or opportunity to do something I'll come when I'm able.
3 : having or showing much skill an able dancer
variants: also -ible \ ə-​bəl \

Kids Definition of -able

1 : capable of, fit for, or worthy of being lovable flexible
2 : tending or likely to changeable

Other Words from able

-ably also -ibly \ ə-​blē \ adverb suffix adorably

Choose the Right Synonym for able


able and capable mean having the power to do or accomplish. able may be used for someone who has exceptional skill and has done well in the past. She is an able surgeon with years of experience. capable is usually used to describe someone who has the characteristics suitable for a particular kind of work. The recruits soon proved to be capable soldiers.

Legal Definition of able

1 : possessed of needed powers or of needed resources to accomplish an objective able to perform under the contract
2 : having freedom from restriction or obligation or from conditions preventing an action able to vote
3 : legally qualified : possessed of legal competence able to inherit property

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More from Merriam-Webster on able

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for able

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with able

Spanish Central: Translation of able

Nglish: Translation of able for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of able for Arabic Speakers

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