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

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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 In 2018, Fiennes was hired by Holkham’s principal landowner, the eighth Earl of Leicester, to bolster wildlife across the estate, from its intensively farmed arable land to its wetland bird habitats. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Can Farming Make Space for Nature?," 10 Feb. 2020 Skirmishes, if not outright wars, will result over arable land and dwindling fresh-water reserves, and mass migration from the parched climates around the Equator will provoke nationalist backlashes in the habitable parts of the world. Harrison Stetler, The New York Review of Books, "‘Collapsologie’: Constructing an Idea of How Things Fall Apart," 21 Jan. 2020 That drop is enough to reduce the UK's percentage of arable land from 32 percent to just seven percent. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Modeling what would happen to the UK if the Gulf Stream shuts down," 14 Jan. 2020 With farmers losing arable land and access to water fluctuating, food insecurity has become a greater threat, especially for subsistence farmers who do not have economic alternatives if their crops fail. Joe Penney, Quartz Africa, "West Africa’s Sahel region is especially vulnerable to climate change but also weak governance," 30 Sep. 2019 Uzbekistan feels like the country's baby brother with vibrant urban centers topped by minarets, and a sprawling, arable interior where some of the freshest produce on the planet is grown. Brandon Presser, Harper's BAZAAR, "The 20 Best Places to Travel in 2020," 30 Dec. 2019 Raising them polluted water supplies and gobbled up scarce arable land. The Economist, "The planet needs China to curb its appetite for meat," 17 Oct. 2019 Urban expansion threatens to gobble up the country’s scarce arable land. Daniel K. Gardner, The New Republic, "“What About China?” Is a Bad Response to the Climate Crisis," 20 Sep. 2019 One-third of the world’s arable land is used to grow feed for livestock, which are responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, "Can a Burger Help Solve Climate Change?," 23 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Today, the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon run the estate, spanning 5,000 acres with 4,000 acres of arable farming. Rachel King, Fortune, "The Iconic Castle on ‘Downton Abbey’ Is Bringing Its London Dry Gin to the U.S.," 17 Aug. 2019 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for arable

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for arable

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Arable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on arable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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