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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

Example Sentences

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
Breathtaking is an apt description in more ways than one. Jocelyn Noveck, ajc, 20 Oct. 2022 That seems to be an apt description through his first two big league starts. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 25 Sep. 2022 Women talking turned out to be an apt description of this year’s edition of TIFF, the first to be held entirely in person since the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, which featured a notable number of movies made by and centering on women. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2022 That also would be an apt description of Folk’s time in New England. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, 6 Sep. 2022 Providing a gumbo of New Orleans music is also an apt job description for Shorty. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Aug. 2022 Jonathan Toews had an apt description of the Chicago Blackhawks rebuild during a recent interview with The Athletic. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 28 July 2022 The home is an unassuming citadel–an apt description given that the property began as a military fort in 1287. R. Daniel Foster, Forbes, 16 July 2022 That appears to be an apt description—the gameplay would look fantastic even if it were developed by a larger team. Nathaniel Mott, PCMAG, 12 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 5 Dec. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on apt

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