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\ 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 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

But, on these three crucial issues, Bolton was able to get the better of Trump. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "How John Bolton Got the Better of President Trump," 10 Sep. 2019 If the ban passes the full City Council, according to The Island Packet, Beaufort County sheriff's deputies would be able to ticket anyone who breaks the rules. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "Hilton Head Island's Latest Efforts to Protect Sea Turtles and Beachgoers," 9 Sep. 2019 Moras looks for a triangle or armbar but isn’t able to get anything. Todd Martin, Los Angeles Times, "UFC 242 live updates: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier," 7 Sep. 2019 If Ray isn’t able to go, the most likely candidate to start in his place would appear to be right-hander Taylor Clarke, who has thrown well in his big league appearances since mid-July. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "D-Backs still hopeful Robbie Ray’s blister isn’t serious," 7 Sep. 2019 Akron was able to find the end zone early and even added another score with less than five minutes to play to cut the Blazers lead in half. Evan Dudley, al, "Quarter-by-quarter look at UAB’s 31-20 road victory over Akron," 7 Sep. 2019 The injury set him back a bit, hasn’t been able to find his footing since. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "A closer look at Khris Davis’ prolonged slump," 7 Sep. 2019 Samii dressed hundreds of women able and willing to pay at least $8,000 for gala and wedding gowns. Mallory Moench, SFChronicle.com, "‘A dying art’: SF couture designer Lily Samii retires as industry evolves," 6 Sep. 2019 We are honored to implement this pilot program and hope that other senior centers will be able to learn from it to expand their transportation options for older adults. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Pilot program is offering limited free rides to seniors," 6 Sep. 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

17 Sep 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

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