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: unusually fitted or qualified : ready
proved an apt tool in the hands of the conspirators
: having a tendency : likely
plants apt to suffer from drought
: ordinarily disposed : inclined
apt to accept what is plausible as true
: suited to a purpose
especially : being to the point
an apt quotation
: keenly intelligent and responsive
an apt pupil
aptness noun
Liable vs. Apt: Usage Guide

Both liable and apt when followed by an infinitive are used nearly interchangeably with likely. Although conflicting advice has been given over the years, most current commentators accept apt when so used. They generally recommend limiting liable to situations having an undesirable outcome, and our evidence shows that in edited writing it is more often so used than not.


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Choose the Right Synonym for apt

fit, suitable, meet, proper, appropriate, fitting, apt, happy, felicitous mean right with respect to some end, need, use, or circumstance.

fit stresses adaptability and sometimes special readiness for use or action.

fit for battle

suitable implies an answering to requirements or demands.

clothes suitable for camping

meet suggests a just proportioning.

meet payment

proper suggests a suitability through essential nature or accordance with custom.

proper acknowledgement

appropriate implies eminent or distinctive fitness.

an appropriate gift

fitting implies harmony of mood or tone.

a fitting end

apt connotes a fitness marked by nicety and discrimination.

apt quotations

happy suggests what is effectively or successfully appropriate.

a happy choice of words

felicitous suggests an aptness that is opportune, telling, or graceful.

a felicitous phrase

quick, prompt, ready, apt mean able to respond without delay or hesitation or indicative of such ability.

quick stresses instancy of response and is likely to connote native rather than acquired power.

quick reflexes
a keen quick mind

prompt is more likely to connote training and discipline that fits one for instant response.

prompt emergency medical care

ready suggests facility or fluency in response.

backed by a pair of ready assistants

apt stresses the possession of qualities (such as intelligence, a particular talent, or a strong bent) that makes quick effective response possible.

an apt student
her answer was apt and to the point

Examples of apt in a Sentence

Adjective “Stripe” is an apt name for the cat, since she has striped fur. that dog is apt to run off if you don't put him on a leash
Recent Examples on the Web
But this season, women seeking sleek, timeless styles have plenty to choose from. ODD, ABSURD, CUCKOO-BANANAS—all apt descriptors for recent evening-bag trends. Aria Darcella / Photographs By F. Martin Ramin/the Wall Street Journal; Prop Styling By Sean Dooley , WSJ, 24 Nov. 2023 Unimpressed with turkey meat, Singh, 36, decided tandoori chicken was an apt alternative during his first Thanksgiving as a host. Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 When the ground shifts under our feet, its vibrations are apt to diffuse. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 16 Nov. 2023 The exaggerated, cartoonish aesthetics and bright colors are an apt fit for the resulting chaos of the story, which quickly spins off into quasi-Lovecraftian horror. Jacob Brogan, Washington Post, 13 Nov. 2023 An apt answer came from Rose Lavelle, the Reign’s world-class midfielder. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Nov. 2023 But a more apt description may be an oil painting, which requires a great many decisions about how a portrait is rendered. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2023 Neither the speech nor the characters’ movements or gazes are unnaturally slowed down; they’re simply given apt space and weight. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2023 Posh and Becks were the defining athlete–pop-star power couple of the ’90s and early ’00s, and the comparison is particularly apt given the recent release of Netflix’s Beckham documentary series, which finds England’s most famous soccer player in a reflective mood. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 11 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Middle English, borrowed from Latin aptus "fastened, connected, prepared, in good order, good (at doing something), suitable, fitting," past participle of apio, apere "to join, connect," of uncertain origin

Note: Though the presumed participle aptus is well-attested in Latin, the simple verb apere is known only from the lexicographical comments of the Roman grammarian Sextus Pompeius Festus. Possibly related on phonetic grounds to apere are the verbs coepī, coepisse "to begin" (attested only in the perfect) and apīscor, apīscī "to seize hold of, grasp, obtain, secure." The Latin complex is conventionally linked with Sanskrit ā́pa and Avestan āpa "has reached," Sanskrit āpnóti "reaches, overtakes," and Hittite epzi "seizes, captures," and appanzi "(they) seize," from an alleged Indo-European verbal base *h1ep- "seize" (with the perfects in Latin and Sanskrit the outcome of a reduplicated *h1e-h1(o)p-). However, if the primary meaning of the Latin verb is "join," which appears likely (cf. cōpula "bond, fastening," from *co-ap-ula; see couple entry 1), then apīscī and coepī appear semantically too distant (unless, in an inchoative and middle derivative the sense "join oneself to" led to "seize hold of, obtain"?). If apere/aptus is unrelated to apīscī and coepī, another possible point of relation would be Hittite hāpzi "joins, attaches," going back to Indo-European *h2ep-. (This would also ease the difficulty of accounting for the vocalism a- in Latin, at least in apere if not in apīscī.)

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near apt

Cite this Entry

“Apt.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apt. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: just right
especially : being to the point : relevant
an apt remark
: having a tendency : inclined, likely
apt to become angry
: quick to learn
an apt pupil
aptly adverb


Middle English apt "suitable," from Latin aptus "apt, fit" — related to adapt

More from Merriam-Webster on apt

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