adjective el·i·gi·ble \ ˈe-lə-jə-bəl \
Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of eligible

1 a :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


play \ˌe-lə-jə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun


play \ˈe-lə-jə-blē\ adverb

Examples of eligible in a Sentence

  1. … 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 BakerTime28 Jan. 2008
  2. 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 AppleAtlanticNovember 2003
  3. I'd like to join but I'm not eligible yet.

Recent Examples of eligible from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of eligible

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



Definition of eligible

plural eligibles
: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

ELIGIBLE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of eligible for English Language Learners

  • : able to be chosen for something : able to do or receive something

  • : suitable and desirable for marriage

ELIGIBLE Defined for Kids


adjective el·i·gi·ble \ ˈe-li-jə-bəl \

Definition of eligible for Students

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

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