ar·​a·​ble | \ ˈa-rə-bəl How to pronounce arable (audio) , ˈer-ə-\

Definition of arable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fit for or used for the growing of crops arable land
2 British : engaged in, produced by, or being the cultivation of arable land arable farming arable farmers



Definition of arable (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly British
: land fit or used for the growing of crops also : a plot of such land the village arable of Anglo-Saxon times

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from arable


arability \ ˌa-​rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce arability (audio) , ˌer-​ə-​ \ noun

Examples of arable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

When Americans were subscribing to the theory of Malthus, there was as favorable a ratio of arable land to population as can well be imagined. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 By 1935, it was estimated that 850 million tons of topsoil had been blown off the Great Plains in a single year and that 100 million acres of arable farmland had lost most or all of its soil. Bella Bathurst, Newsweek, "Kill the Plough, Save Our Soils," 29 May 2014 Such attacks are broadly attributed to a decades-old cycle of conflict between farmers and semi-nomadic herders vying for arable land. Washington Post, "World Digest: June 27, 2018," 27 June 2018 The mystery persisted as the taxi careened past flat, unremarkable arable farmland toward a great crack in the land. Henry Wismayer, WSJ, "Undiscovered Europe: A Vacation Like No Other," 23 May 2018 The largely mountainous country also suffers from a shortage of arable land, Beasley said, with only 15 to 20 percent of land available for cultivation. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "U.N. World Food chief hopes ‘new spirit’ benefits children in N. Korea," 12 May 2018 There are good reasons for this: The federation of seven emirates is hampered by high temperatures, a lack of arable land, salty soil, and steep production costs. Rabiya Jaffery, The Christian Science Monitor, "UAE tries vertical farming to produce food with little water," 10 May 2018 Even where the mountains wind down and arable land is more readily available, the region can still feel like an isolated place. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Whose Appalachia Is It, Anyway?," 8 May 2018 Farmers used the state’s abundant land to develop a system of swapping, selling or leasing arable areas to ensure that ginseng is never grown on the same plot twice, as the root thrives best in land that has never before been planted with ginseng. Chuin-wei Yap, WSJ, "Chinese Tariffs Take Root in American Ginseng," 25 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For centuries, Knepp Castle’s 3,500-acre estate was devoted to intensive arable and dairy farming. National Geographic, "When Nature Runs Wild, the Results Can Be Spectacular," 16 June 2018 Traditionally, the arable farmer has fought against two enemies: weather and weeds. Bella Bathurst, Newsweek, "Kill the Plough, Save Our Soils," 29 May 2014 With the advent of arable and animal agriculture, fishing alone, of the three ancient ways of obtaining food—the other two being hunting and plant foraging—has remained vital to human civilisation. The Economist, "FishingHow fishing fed the world," 14 Dec. 2017 The pigs are raised in arable bliss by doting artisanal farmers (a marketing narrative orchestrated to sell consumers on the Frankenswine). Emily Poenisch, Esquire, "Okja Director Bong Joon Ho Says Working With Tilda Swinton Gives Him 'Nuclear Power'," 29 June 2017 But local governments that have relied for years on land sales to fund growth can circumvent restrictions by counting marginal land as arable, or re-zoning urban areas as farms. Bloomberg News,, "Farming the World: China’s Epic Race to Avoid a Food Crisis," 19 May 2017 April is also high season for sandstorms, a result of desertification—the transformation of arable, hospitable land into desert. National Geographic, "China's 'Great Green Wall' Fights Expanding Desert," 21 Apr. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of arable


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1576, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for arable

Adjective and Noun

Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin arabilis, from arare to plow; akin to Old English erian to plow, Greek aroun

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about arable

Statistics for arable

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for arable

The first known use of arable was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for arable


ar·​a·​ble | \ ˈer-ə-bəl How to pronounce arable (audio) \

Kids Definition of arable

: fit for or cultivated by plowing : suitable for producing crops arable land

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on arable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with arable

Spanish Central: Translation of arable

Nglish: Translation of arable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of arable for Arabic Speakers

Comments on arable

What made you want to look up arable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing courage and determination

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!