amiable

adjective

ami·​a·​ble ˈā-mē-ə-bəl How to pronounce amiable (audio)
1
a
: friendly, sociable, and congenial
an amiable host
amiable neighbors
b
: generally agreeable
an amiable comedy
2
archaic : pleasing, admirable
amiability noun
amiableness noun
amiably adverb

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The Roots of Amiable Go Back to Love

Amiable derives from the Late Latin adjective amicabilis, meaning "friendly," which in turn comes from the Latin word for "friend" and can ultimately be traced back to amare, meaning "to love." When amiable was adopted into English in the 14th century, it meant "pleasing" or "admirable," but that sense is now obsolete. The current, familiar senses of "generally agreeable" ("an amiable movie") and "friendly and sociable" came centuries later. Amare has also given English speakers such words as amative and amorous (both meaning "strongly moved by love"), amour ("a usually illicit love affair"), and even amateur (which originally meant "admirer").

Choose the Right Synonym for amiable

amiable, good-natured, obliging, complaisant mean having the desire or disposition to please.

amiable implies having qualities that make one liked and easy to deal with.

an amiable teacher not easily annoyed

good-natured implies cheerfulness or helpfulness and sometimes a willingness to be imposed upon.

a good-natured girl who was always willing to pitch in

obliging stresses a friendly readiness to be helpful.

our obliging innkeeper found us a bigger room

complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding to others because of weakness.

was too complaisant to protest a decision he thought unfair

Examples of amiable in a Sentence

… an amiable man, a gray-headed, fiftyish, good old boy with a long career in media and public relations, and a hellish taste for margaritas … Denis Johnson, Rolling Stone, 17 Aug. 2000
These strained plot contortions aren't really necessary: the funny, amiable heart of the movie is in the scenes of these tough old duffers scamming their way through the training program. David Ansen, Newsweek, 14 Aug. 2000
The book pivots around Molly Bonner, an amiable, 40-ish woman whose second husband has just died in a helicopter accident, leaving her grief-struck and rich. Tad Friend, Vogue, March 1997
Gianni Versace is an amiable smoothy with a light touch and a corona of gray hair. Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, January 1997
Everyone knew him as an amiable fellow. She had an amiable conversation with her friend.
Recent Examples on the Web Thank You, Goodnight is a perfectly nice retrospective, approachable and amiable and affectionate. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Apr. 2024 Even on a Monday night his dining room brims with a multigenerational crowd that’s lively to the amiable rowdiness. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for amiable 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'amiable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English amyable, borrowed from Anglo-French amiable, going back to Late Latin amīcābilis, from Latin amīcus "personal friend, lover, friend in public life, partisan" or amīcāre "to make friendly to oneself, propitiate" (derivative of amīcus) + -bilis "capable (of acting) or worthy (of being acted upon)"; Latin amīcus, noun derivative of amīcus, adjective, "friendly, well-disposed, loving, devoted," derivative of amāre "to feel affection for, love" — more at amateur, -able

Note: A predecessor *ama-ikos, from a stative verb *ama-ē-, is suggested by P. Schrijver (The Reflexes of the Proto-Indo-European Laryngeals in Latin, Rodopi, 1991, p. 399), following a proposal by D. Steinbauer (Etymologische Untersuchungen zu den bei Plautus belegten Verben der lateinischen ersten Konjugation, Altendorf, 1989, pp. 131-32). This would seem to be supported by the inscriptional form ameicus (unless it is an inverted spelling) and the form amecus cited by the grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus. M. Weiss, on the other hand, proposes a "deinstrumental" origin from an adverbial base *amī- "with love," in Indo-European terms *h2m̥h3ih1- (see Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin, Ann Arbor, 2009, p. 296).

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of amiable was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Amiable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amiable. Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

amiable

adjective
ami·​a·​ble ˈā-mē-ə-bəl How to pronounce amiable (audio)
: generally agreeable : having a friendly and pleasant manner
an amiable comedy
amiability noun
amiableness noun
amiably adverb

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