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 able (audio) \;ablest\ ˈā-​b(ə-​)ləst How to pronounce able (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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But recent studies in South Africa and elsewhere have found that a BA.1 infection alone does not provide much cross-protection from other variants — meaning people might not be able to withstand an infection from another Omicron sublineage. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 14 May 2022 After an article brought attention to his plight, was able to find a new building for his business. Stefene Russell, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 Finnish building codes require apartment blocks and other large buildings to include shelters able to withstand bombs and chemical attacks. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, 13 May 2022 Busy dads and partners may not be able to find the time to thoroughly clean their home or work space on a regular basis. Kylee Mcguigan, Popular Mechanics, 12 May 2022 In years past, parents might not have been able to find out what’s in a library collection, giving students a certain measure of freedom to roam the stacks. David Ingram, NBC News, 12 May 2022 Rescuers in Texas were able to find a woman with dementia who was missing for three days with the help of her loyal companion – a dog named Max. Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY, 11 May 2022 Some refugees are able to find decent short-term housing. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 11 May 2022 Fortunately, Robyn was able to find an outlet for these overwhelming thoughts and feelings in her writing. Rachel Nall, Msn, SELF, 11 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near able

ablaze

able

-able

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Statistics for able

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Able.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/able. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for able

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

-able

adjective suffix
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.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on able

Nglish: Translation of able for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of able for Arabic Speakers

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