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

The ship will only be in space for a few minutes, at which point passengers will be able to get out of their seats and experience weightlessness. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "The Range Rover Astronaut Edition Is Only for Virgin Galactic's Commercial Astronauts," 9 May 2019 The idea began a little over a year ago, when a friend of Crutchfield's wanted to involve her in an event at Swale, a floating, forage-able barge at Brooklyn's army terminal. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Artist Makes Gorgeous Weavings Using Wildflowers—and You Can, too," 17 Apr. 2019 Only animals who have once been human are able to speak in the movie, so the fly would have had to have once been a human for Kuzco to have heard his screams. 20. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "20 Insane Disney Movie Fan Theories That Will Blow. Your. Mind.," 16 Apr. 2019 Just able to give them foresight on what’s to come. Evan Webeck, The Seattle Times, "Former Huskies RB Deontae Cooper is back on the football field — as Highline’s new head coach," 13 Apr. 2019 The 25,000 families getting a new paycheck, the mothers and fathers suddenly able to send their kids to the local Catholic school, the busy sidewalks, the lights. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Welcome to New York, Amazon—Now Go Home," 21 Feb. 2019 There have been tough challenges before: Google had to turn to the internet for suggestions for the naming of Android N, and O would have probably been a calamity had Google not been able to partner with Nabisco to get the Oreo name. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "What will Google call Android 10 Q?," 6 May 2019 While President Trump has not been able to get Congress to act on his signature campaign issue of building a border wall, there's another important immigration story developing. Paul Overberg, WSJ, "Immigrants Propel Population Growth in 10% of U.S. Counties," 18 Apr. 2019 Javier Zarracina These larger turbines are better able to capture wind in less gusty areas, increasing the capacity factor. Umair Irfan, Vox, "4 maps that show who’s being left behind in America’s wind-power boom," 28 Mar. 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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Dictionary Entries near able

ablaut

ablaze

-able

able

able-bodied

able-bodied seaman

abled

Statistics for able

Last Updated

24 May 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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