disability

noun
dis·​abil·​i·​ty | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce disability (audio) \

Definition of disability

1 : a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person's ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions Scientists have tentatively linked the reading disability known as dyslexia to a bevy of brain disturbances.Science News How, with his severe disability, has Hawking been able to out-think and out-intuit his leading colleague-competitors …— Kip S. Thorne Yet one ends up admiring him for his devotion to the disability that could have unmade his career as an actor. It is through his deafness that we hear his story.— Lennard J. Davis also : impaired function or ability Sarcopenia is a loss of muscle mass and strength that normally occurs with aging, and it's a major cause of frailty and disability in the elderly. — Andrew Weil Thrombolytic therapy has been used in patients with acute ischemic stroke to restore cerebral blood flow, reduce ischemia, and limit neurologic disability. — Werner Hacke — see also intellectual disability, learning disability
2a(1) : an impairment (such as a chronic medical condition or injury) that prevents someone from engaging in gainful employment … monthly payment to which a worker is entitled upon retirement or disability under the federal social security system …— Robert I. Mehr
(2) : an impairment (such as spina bifida) that results in serious functional limitations for a minor
b : a program providing financial support to a person affected by disability … those who fit the criteria for dysthymia were more likely to have physical and emotional problems and more likely to be on Medicaid or Social Security disability than those with acute depression.— Melinda Beck also : the financial support provided by such a program … he collects disability on account of his exposure to Agent Orange during his years as an Army MP in Vietnam. — Jason Fagone
3 : a disqualification, restriction, or disadvantage economic disabilities
4 : lack of legal qualification to do something … Defoe … dramatised the gravity of the problem in the morally desperate expedient which Roxana is forced to adopt to overcome the legal disabilities of women.— Ian Watt

Examples of disability in a Sentence

She has learned to keep a positive attitude about her disability. disabilities such as blindness and deafness a program for children with disabilities It's a serious disease that can cause disability or death. After he injured his back he had to quit his job and go on disability.
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Recent Examples on the Web Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "Heart attack and stroke patients avoided hospitals at height of pandemic in spring," 8 Nov. 2020 In addition to being a leading cause of death, strokes are also a leading cause of disability. cleveland, "The hospitals stroke patients end up at can mean a difference in care. Ohio Senate bill would require consistency in ambulance transport.," 28 Oct. 2020 That hasn’t stopped Biden’s opponents from raising questions about the operations in the heat of a political campaign in which unsubstantiated claims of mental disability have become common. Author: Toluse Olorunnipa, Michael Kranish, Anchorage Daily News, "Biden and Trump have questioned the other’s physical and mental fitness. Here’s what we know about their health.," 25 Oct. 2020 LaVant is charged with leading the film campaign’s efforts to promote understanding of disability as a social justice issue and to build coalitions. NBC News, "Meet the Black woman advocating for greater disability visibility," 9 Oct. 2020 Harris was also asked about whether she's had a conversation with Biden about the possibility of presidential disability. CBS News, "Pence and Harris clash over virus at vice presidential debate," 8 Oct. 2020 Pence, ignoring Page’s next question about possible use of the 25th Amendment in case of presidential disability, denounced Harris' vaccine remark. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "In VP debate, Mike Pence defends Donald Trump’s record, which Kamala Harris calls ‘greatest failure’ in history," 8 Oct. 2020 Pence declined to use the time given to him to answer the next question, about taking over the presidency in case of presidential disability, and instead criticized Harris' stance on vaccination. Taylor Stevens, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Vice presidential debate in Utah shows contrast between candidates but leaves important questions unanswered," 8 Oct. 2020 Interviews with homeless people living outdoors throughout San Diego County revealed that many are seniors, a majority have some kind of disability and Black people are over-represented among the population. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, "County’s homeless: Disabled, 55 and older and Black," 15 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disability.' 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 disability

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for disability

dis- + ability, after disable

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Time Traveler for disability

Time Traveler

The first known use of disability was in 1545

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Statistics for disability

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disability. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for disability

disability

noun
dis·​abil·​i·​ty | \ ˌdi-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce disability (audio) \
plural disabilities

Kids Definition of disability

: a condition (as one present at birth or caused by injury) that damages or limits a person's abilities : the state of being disabled

disability

noun
dis·​abil·​i·​ty | \ ˌdis-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē How to pronounce disability (audio) \
plural disabilities

Medical Definition of disability

1 : a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person's ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions Scientists have tentatively linked the reading disability known as dyslexia to a bevy of brain disturbances.Science News How, with his severe disability, has Hawking been able to out-think and out-intuit his leading colleague-competitors …— Kip S. Thorne also : impaired function or ability Thrombolytic therapy has been used in patients with acute ischemic stroke to restore cerebral blood flow, reduce ischemia, and limit neurologic disability. — Werner Hacke — see also intellectual disability, learning disability
2a(1) : an impairment (as a chronic medical condition or injury) that prevents someone from engaging in gainful employment
(2) : an impairment (as spina bifida) that results in serious functional limitations for a minor
b : a program providing financial support to a person affected by disability

disability

noun
dis·​abil·​i·​ty
plural disabilities

Legal Definition of disability

1 : inability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment specifically : inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or to be of long continued or indefinite duration in accordance with the Social Security Act — see also benefit, Americans with Disabilities Act — compare incapacity, occupational disease
2 : lack of legal qualification to do something a minor's disability

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Comments on disability

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