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

Everyone should be able to prepare and enjoy food that actually nourishes the body and keeps us healthy. Kristin Braswell, Bon Appétit, "Singer Kelis on Selling Hot Sauce and Starting a Sustainable Farm in Colombia," 2 July 2019 That failed spectacularly and left Iran with 15,000 spinning centrifuges, weeks away from being able to build a nuclear weapon. Jon Wolfsthal, The New Republic, "Is Anyone Surprised Iran Has Returned to Enrichment?," 2 July 2019 From Home costars palled around at EW’s first-ever digital cover shoot and, luckily for readers, cameras were on hand to capture all of the adorable, hilarious, and totally GIF-able moments. Lauren Huff, EW.com, "See all the adorable GIFs from EW's cover shoot with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland," 1 July 2019 With only three episodes left to redeem Monterey's most meme-able matriarch, here's hoping the writers sharpen their pencils. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Meryl Streep is the worst thing about 'Big Little Lies' Season 2. What happened?," 1 July 2019 One person was able to get to shore, and another was found safely 20 minutes later. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Boaters escape injury after their kayaks capsize on Lac La Belle in Oconomowoc," 1 July 2019 In December 2018 the Richmond Fire Department was called to a house fire where all six family members were able to get out of the house with no injury due to the smoke detector sounding in the early morning hours and waking them. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Red Cross recognize Richmond for life-saving actions," 1 July 2019 Mandar Kamalapurkar’s exceptional sound design creates an emotionally rich soundtrack able to contribute an almost mystical dimension, without wandering off into religious territory. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Trijya - Radius': Film Review | Shanghai 2019," 1 July 2019 With neither side able to find a breakthrough, the game went to a penalty shootout in which Sanchez scored the decisive penalty after Tesillo's miss for Colombia, to send the two-time defending champions to the semi finals. SI.com, "Copa America Roundup: Peru & Chile Prevail on Penalties as Colombia & Uruguay Bow Out," 30 June 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

5 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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