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el·​i·​gi·​ble ˈe-lə-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio)
: qualified to participate or be chosen
eligible to retire
: permitted under football rules to catch a forward pass
: worthy of being chosen
an eligible young bachelor
eligibly adverb


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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

Examples of eligible in a Sentence

Adjective … 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
In Arkansas, just 22.6% of the nearly 145,000 children age 1-4 who were eligible for benefits participated in the program in 2021, the lowest rate in the country, according to the USDA report. My Ly, arkansasonline.com, 27 Nov. 2023 Score 30% off Olaplex's entire bond-boosting line (even sets are eligible for the discount), or pick up a luxe hair mask from Pureology for under $30. Anamaria Glavan, Allure, 27 Nov. 2023 Infants younger than six months aren’t eligible for Covid vaccines anyway. Allysia Finley, WSJ, 26 Nov. 2023 Those who have already paid for these repairs at their own expense may also be eligible for reimbursement. CBS News, 25 Nov. 2023 To be eligible for one of the genre awards, an artist must have released a Top 40 album or single in the same eligibility period, with the R&B award eligibility achieved over a 24-month period. Paul Grein, Billboard, 24 Nov. 2023 And yes, Glossier's cult-favorite You Scent is eligible for the discounts, along with its matching candle. Shanna Shipin, Glamour, 24 Nov. 2023 The community college estimates that 712 of its current students are eligible for funding. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 Those now Social Security–eligible children will work together to give away their father’s wealth after his passing. Chris Morris, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2023
Of the 28 Modern-Era semifinalists, five are first-year eligible which includes cornerback Darrelle Revis, tackle Joe Thomas and guard Jahri Evans. Dallas News, 3 Jan. 2023 New Mexico State Bowl eligible before Saturday thanks to an NCAA waiver granted earlier this week, the Aggies completed an impressive six-win finish under new coach Jerry Kill by beating Valparaiso 65-3 in a rescheduled season finale. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 4 Dec. 2022 The average age of the roster is 24 years, 7 weeks, and eight players are age-eligible for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which is a U-23 tournament. Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2023 In addition, the Tesla move broadened the vehicles in its line-up eligible for the Biden administration tax credit. Reuters, CNN, 13 Jan. 2023 The game will air on SEC Network, as interim coach Cadillac Williams tries to lead his alma mater to a second straight win and keep the Tigers’ outside hopes of becoming bowl eligible alive. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, 19 Nov. 2022 According to a former Twitter employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, the accounts must be flagged to prevent advertising from appearing near them — or they will be treated as ad-eligible. Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2022 Before its current streak, UAB was bowl eligible only three times, playing in a single bowl game, in the previous 18 seasons as an FBS member. Evan Dudley, al, 23 Nov. 2022 The Mountain West win made the Aztecs (6-4, 4-2 MW) bowl eligible for the school-record 13th straight season. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Nov. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'eligible.' 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 English, from Late Latin eligibilis, from Latin eligere to choose — more at elect

First Known Use


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


1656, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near eligible

Cite this Entry

“Eligible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eligible. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


el·​i·​gi·​ble ˈel-ə-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio)
: qualified to be chosen or to participate
eligible to vote
eligibility noun
eligible noun
eligibly adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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