\ 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 The call was answered by The Six, a half dozen men who thought themselves able, and suitable, and so exceptional the truth would shine from their countenance like Excalibur in the sunlight on the morning of battle. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, "The Legend of Six White Men of a Certain Age," 12 Feb. 2020 But a warmer Australia will threaten its food supply, and leave it less able to adapt to change. Matt Simon, Wired, "This Marsupial Dies After Marathon Mating. Now It's Got Bigger Worries," 12 Feb. 2020 After six life-threatening hospitalizations in nine months, my dad had become even less able to function independently. Aimee Gindin, STAT, "A daughter’s plea: Doctors must stop shirking palliative care," 12 Feb. 2020 Since the last major locust outbreak in Africa, in 2003–05, researchers have been able to make the biopesticide cheaper, more effective, longer lasting in the desert, and easier to store. Erik Stokstad, Science | AAAS, "In Somalia, an unprecedented effort to kill massive locust swarms with biocontrol," 12 Feb. 2020 Chanin was able to revivify her hometown and create new jobs. Cintra Wilson, The New York Review of Books, "Waste Not, Shop Not," 11 Feb. 2020 Upland dogs must be able to back and honor the first dog on point. John Gordon, Outdoor Life, "10 Gun Dog Disasters to Avoid," 11 Feb. 2020 Most feral dogs that did not run away from humans were able to respond to hand cues about the location of food, even without training. Susanne Bard, Scientific American, "Feral Dogs Respond to Human Hand Cues," 11 Feb. 2020 On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, only two politicians were able to draw big enough crowds to fill up arenas: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. John Mccormack, National Review, "On Primary Eve, Bernie Sanders Draws a Huge Crowd — with Help from The Strokes," 11 Feb. 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

Adjective

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

History and Etymology for able

Adjective

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

27 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Able.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/able. Accessed 31 May. 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

Adjective

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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