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 arable (audio) , ˌer-​ə-​ \ noun

Examples of arable in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Armenia has over two million acres of land–but only 480,000 acres are arable. Jackie Abramian, Forbes, "Green Lane NGO Monetizes Organic Farming For Women Agronomists," 20 Apr. 2021 The state owns 80% of the arable land and leases most of that to farmers and cooperatives, and until recently had sold them inputs in exchange for up to 90% of their output. Marc Frank Reuters, Star Tribune, "Cuba loosens state controls on agriculture production," 17 Apr. 2021 There’s potential for environmental benefits, too: with the right protocols, aquaculture uses less freshwater and arable land than most animal agriculture. Ian Urbina, The New Yorker, "Fish Farming Is Feeding the Globe. What’s the Cost for Locals?," 1 Mar. 2021 One way to do this, Knapp says, is to explore the effects that graveyard-dwelling insect, bird and mammal populations have on neighboring arable land. Gemma Conroy, Scientific American, "Graveyards Are Surprising Hotspots for Biodiversity," 24 Feb. 2021 The amount of arable land has shrunk, farms have been divided and subdivided — 86% of growers now operate on less than five acres — and erratic weather has devastated harvests. Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times, "‘It isn’t just men who drive tractors’: Women help lead India’s historic farm protests," 27 Jan. 2021 The impacts of climate crisis are perversely distributed: the entire African continent has only contributed 3 percent of global emissions, yet is already reeling from cyclones of historic intensity and the loss of arable land. Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, The New Republic, "Don’t Treat Climate Change as a National Security Risk," 1 Feb. 2021 Pyongyang often struggles to adequately feed its people because of economic mismanagement, international sanctions and the country's dearth of arable land and modern agricultural equipment. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea's 'dark' fishing fleet went quiet in 2020, likely pressuring the country's imperiled food supply," 20 Jan. 2021 The most notable case may be that of the billionaire Bass brothers of Texas, who bought up thousands of acres of arable land in the Imperial Valley in the 1990s. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Wall Street can now bet on the price of California water. Watch out," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun About 13% of the land is arable, with microclimates suited to nearly every crop. The Economist, "Devaluation gardens Hobbyists hope to halt hunger in Lebanon by growing their own crops," 28 May 2020 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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Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Arable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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