ca·​pa·​ble ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce capable (audio)
 in rapid speech  ˈkāp-bəl
: susceptible
a remark capable of being misunderstood
obsolete : comprehensive
: having attributes (such as physical or mental power) required for performance or accomplishment
is capable of intense concentration
: having traits conducive to or features permitting something
this woman is capable of murder by violenceRobert Graves
: having legal right to own, enjoy, or perform
of my land … to make thee capableShakespeare
: having or showing general efficiency and ability
a capable lawyer
a capable performance
capableness noun
capably adverb

Examples of capable in a Sentence

a capable and efficient editor
Recent Examples on the Web Particularly did this seem true of the ginkgoes that decorate many a Washington street, and seem almost capable of acting as independent sources of illumination. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2023 Sources stress that expensive shows will still exist, but networks and studios are looking for series capable of sustaining long runs on a budget, namely sitcoms and procedural formats. Joe Otterson, Variety, 21 Nov. 2023 The 33 Raptor engines in the Super Heavy first stage are capable of generating 16 million pounds of thrust at full throttle — roughly twice the power of NASA's Space Launch System moon rocket, currently the world's most powerful. William Harwood, CBS News, 15 Nov. 2023 Cooks is capable of providing WR3/flex upside on a weekly basis if the Cowboys’ brain trust on offense doesn’t forget about him again. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Nov. 2023 Henry insisted that the U.S. government had tried to kill him, and his continued existence proved to me that some people are capable of surviving apocalypse. Myriam Gurba, Los Angeles Times, 14 Nov. 2023 One of Montessori’s most radical insights was that even young children are capable of concentration and deep study in the right environment. Andrew McAfee, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2023 Entrepreneurial success is difficult for everyone and requires hard work, and both genders are capable of working equally hard. Kumar Mehta, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Regardless of its shortcomings, the Z Nismo is a capable performer that delivers on its promises of being a true, track-ready sports car. Bradley Iger, Ars Technica, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'capable.' 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 French or Late Latin; Middle French capable, from Late Latin capabilis, irregular from Latin capere to take — more at heave entry 1

First Known Use

1579, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of capable was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near capable

Cite this Entry

“Capable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ca·​pa·​ble ˈkā-pə-bəl How to pronounce capable (audio)
: having the qualities (as physical or mental power) to do or accomplish something
you are capable of better work
: having qualities or features permitting
a new train capable of very high speeds
: able to do one's job well : generally efficient
tries to hire capable people
capably adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on capable

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