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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The first rule would shift production of Nafta-eligible cars from Mexico to the U.S. The second would shift production from third countries (say South Korea, Germany or China) to the U.S. and Mexico. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Detroit vs. Protectionism?," 4 Sep. 2018 Stuka, a right-hander, was taken in the 39th round by the Baltimore Orioles as a draft-eligible sophomore. John Maffei, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Imperial pitcher sticking with SDSU instead of signing with pros," 6 July 2018 Much like the SuperDraft, FC Cincinnati won't know the relative depth of the expansion draft-eligible player pool for months. Patrick Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "Here's how FC Cincinnati plans to build its roster for the 2019 MLS season," 4 July 2018 In short, the rule defines a four-part test for what kinds of activities an employer can ask and reasonably expect an overtime-eligible worker to participate in without payment. Rob Walker, The Seattle Times, "When unpaid training doesn’t feel voluntary at all," 29 June 2018 Self was equally enthused for a second draft-eligible Jayhawk drafted on Thursday — Svi Mykhailiuk — who was selected 17th in the second round, 47th overall — by the Los Angeles Lakers. Gary Bedore, kansascity, "Self says playing in North Carolina 'has to be huge thrill' for Devonté Graham," 22 June 2018 Here is a quick primer on Louisville's four NBA draft-eligible players: Ray Spalding Draft projection: Second round. Jeff Greer, The Courier-Journal, "2018 NBA draft: When might Louisville basketball players be selected?," 20 June 2018 But physiologists are using it to devise ways to cross the threshold on a record-eligible course. Teal Burrell, Discover Magazine, "Human Speed," 15 June 2018 Congress enacted the Ryan White CARE Act in 1990 in his honor to fund treatment for income-eligible people living with HIV/AIDS. Faith Pinho, Indianapolis Star, "Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana expands service to people with HIV or AIDS," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To insulate a core business eligible for the deduction, companies could put service businesses into entities paying higher tax rates. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "What’s a Service Business? That’s Now a Multibillion-Dollar Tax Question," 16 Oct. 2018 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for eligible

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for eligible

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

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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.

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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 nest or breeding place

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