able

adjective
\ 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\ -​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce abler (audio)\; ablest\ -​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 verbs breakablecollectible
2 : tending, given, or liable to agreeable perishable

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Other Words from able

Adjective

ably \ ˈā-​b(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ably (audio) \ adverb
a task performed ably

Adjective suffix

-ably or less commonly -ibly adverb suffix

Synonyms & Antonyms for able

Synonyms: Adjective

capable, competent, equal, fit, good, qualified, suitable

Antonyms: Adjective

incompetent, inept, poor, unfit, unfitted, unqualified

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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.

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

And researchers have only recently been able to detect what happens on a molecular level. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Boosting genetic diversity may save vanishing animal populations. But it may also backfire," 16 July 2019 Iran has never come within a year of being able to build a bomb. Ian Johnstone, The Conversation, "What is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Here’s why it’s still important," 15 July 2019 The builder is aiming to be able to start model home construction sometime in the fall, according to the newsletter. Akira Kyles, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "128 new homes to be built in New Windsor over next several years, town says," 15 July 2019 Would Cipla be able to offer the AIDS cocktail for $1 a day? Katherine Eban, Quartz India, "How an Indian tycoon fought Big Pharma to sell AIDS drugs for $1 a day," 15 July 2019 But new research suggests that certain lifestyle habits might be able to offset your genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? Here’s What the Latest Research Says," 15 July 2019 In Montegut, officials were able to stop the water that topped the levee by building up another small levee. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Vastly Improved Levee System Credited for Saving Terrebonne Parish from Hurricane Barry Floodwaters," 15 July 2019 Teams who wanted to keep playing other All-Star tournaments were able to do that. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "Spring Klein Sports Association determined to provide players best playing experience," 13 July 2019 That’s what my strength is, just being able to do a little bit of everything. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Basketball recruiting: Purdue keeps an eye on Minnesota forward Ben Carlson," 12 July 2019

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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Statistics for able

Last Updated

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for able

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

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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

able

adjective
\ 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

able

adjective

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with able

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for able

Spanish Central: Translation of able

Nglish: Translation of able for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of able for Arabic Speakers

Comments on able

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