el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ˈe-lə-jə-bəl \

Definition of eligible 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : qualified to participate or be chosen eligible to retire

b : permitted under football rules to catch a forward pass

2 : worthy of being chosen an eligible young bachelor


plural eligibles

Definition of eligible (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person or thing that is qualified or permitted to do or be something : one that is eligible for something As with the College of Cardinals and the papacy, where every cardinal, in theory, is eligible to be Pope but the number of real eligibles is substantially smaller, so with the American Presidency.— Stephen R. Graubard … when she entered life, beautiful, accomplished, and an heiress, she had, of course, all the eligibles … of the other sex sighing at her feet …— Harriet Beecher Stowe

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from eligible


eligibility \ ˌe-​lə-​jə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
eligibly \ ˈe-​lə-​jə-​blē \ adverb

Examples of eligible in a Sentence


… more than six years since the fall of the Taliban, fewer than 30% of eligible girls are enrolled in schools, and the infrastructure is so poor that only a tiny fraction are likely to get the education they need to enjoy the fruits of emancipation. — Aryn Baker, Time, 28 Jan. 2008 She wanted to start her own family. She was twenty-six and without prospects. At church her mother prayed, and at Crystal Nail, where she lacquered and lengthened, her mother asked customers about eligible young men. She kept Li En's graduation photo mounted in the right corner of her mirror, so that every customer would see her daughter, diploma in hand. — Max Apple, Atlantic, November 2003 I'd like to join but I'm not eligible yet.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

An initiative to reinstate the gambling machines was deemed eligible for the fall ballot nearly two weeks after supporters dropped off boxes of signatures for review. Nicole Blanchard, idahostatesman, "Idaho will vote this fall on legalizing horse-race gambling machines," 10 July 2018 Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber urged the judge to give Mazeffa two consecutive 35-to-life sentences, making him eligible for parole at 87. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences than those in the rest of Pennsylvania?," 10 July 2018 Each school bends its policy in the most beneficial way possible to keep their players eligible. Ron Higgins, NOLA.com, "Here's a few more changes the SEC needs to push," 5 June 2018 Once a household is deemed eligible, the program will notify the homeowner as to what their next step is. Courant Community, "Community News For The Manchester Edition," 29 May 2018 After California’s courts abolished the death penalty in 1972, he was first made eligible for parole in 1986 but has been rejected repeatedly. Author: Tom Jackman, Anchorage Daily News, "Who killed Bobby Kennedy? His son RFK Jr. doesn’t believe it was Sirhan Sirhan.," 26 May 2018 Armando Ruiz, the Coconino County assessor, said Maude Gosar sent in paperwork in 2015 to keep the house eligible for the state tax credit as part of a routine check by the county. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Rep. Paul Gosar takes a tax break on his 'primary' residence. It's not in his district," 22 May 2018 According to legal advocates, prosecutors often pushed to close cases in which the immigrant had a good chance of being found eligible for some sort of relief from deportation like asylum. Dara Lind, Vox, "Jeff Sessions just ruled that the government should reopen 350,000 closed deportation cases," 21 May 2018 Those certification levels could in turn make towns eligible for grant money. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Putnam Registers To Participate In Sustainable CT," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Congress initially made 90 percent of total income eligible for Social Security taxes, but indexed it to average wage growth. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "4 Social Security myths and the reasons why they're overblown," 24 June 2018 Up to 18 qualified 3-year-old fillies may make the field, along with as many as four also-eligibles, for the 1 1/8-mile race set for 6:12 p.m. Friday, May 4. Chris White, The Courier-Journal, "How to stream the 2018 Kentucky Oaks post position draw show," 30 Apr. 2018 The state's interpretation of who is eligible has prompted a new lawsuit by relatives and others who claim the state has wrongly denied them foster pay. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky families face heartbreaking wait for Kinship Care money," 3 July 2018 The charge is death-penalty eligible, although that decision has not yet been made, Cullen said. Washington Post, "Hate crime charges leveled after Charlottesville attack," 29 June 2018 Students at her school struggle with poverty, with nearly 90 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Lily Altavena, azcentral, "Principal: Why does a 'D' school face 'the same consequence as a sex offender'?," 29 May 2018 Weinstein was the sole incumbent on the County Council eligible for re-election. Kate Magill, Howard County Times, "Howard County Council incumbent ousted in primary by two votes," 6 July 2018 Marlins relievers Adam Conley and Kyle Barraclough are pitching at career-high levels and won’t be arbitration-eligible until next season, which could raise their prices. Mark Gonzales, chicagotribune.com, "Cubs need insurance for the rotation and bullpen, no matter how small the upgrade," 5 July 2018 They will forever be linked for 2016, leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, and are expected to be be teammates through at least 2021 when each are eligible for free agency. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Q&A with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo: Cubs icons on stardom, gun violence, Bryce Harper and more," 27 Mar. 2018

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for eligible


Middle English, from Late Latin eligibilis, from Latin eligere to choose — more at elect

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about eligible

Statistics for eligible

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eligible

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for eligible


el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ˈe-li-jə-bəl \

Kids Definition of eligible

: qualified to be chosen, to participate, or to receive You're eligible for a loan.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on eligible

Spanish Central: Translation of eligible

Nglish: Translation of eligible for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of eligible for Arabic Speakers

Comments on eligible

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


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!