el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ ˈe-lə-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio) \

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 How to pronounce eligibility (audio) \ noun
eligibly \ ˈe-​lə-​jə-​blē How to pronounce eligibly (audio) \ 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

Fewer than 1 in 3 young Latino men do well enough in their studies to be eligible for admission to a University of California or California State University campus. John Myers, latimes.com, "Nearly all of California’s crises are worse in its Latino communities, new report says," 14 July 2019 In addition, the new law specifically lists each tax exemption related to a toll project and allows concessionaires to be eligible for them. al.com, "Toll bill signed by Ivey could save state millions on I-10 project, if it happens," 12 July 2019 Because of last-minute wording tacked onto the legislation before lawmakers approved it late last month, many Oregonians -- including some in the legal community -- aren’t aware of who will be eligible for the death penalty under the new law. oregonlive.com, "New law would limit Oregon’s death penalty to rare cases: Accused MAX train killer Jeremy Christian and others would face life in prison," 12 July 2019 Florida residents above the age of 65 are eligible for a 50 percent discount on some sites. Washington Post, "The country’s eight most beautiful campgrounds," 12 July 2019 The data shows that during the 2018-19 school year, a third of children at DOD-run schools on military bases in the U.S. — over 6,500 children — were eligible for free or reduced lunch. NBC News, "Why are many of America's military families going hungry?," 12 July 2019 Nominees must be at least 35 years old to be eligible for consideration. Flora Charner, CNN, "Brazil's President Bolsonaro wants to give US ambassador post to his son," 12 July 2019 Collect at least five stamps to be eligible for a drawing that includes gift cards. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, "2nd Cleveland Burger Week scheduled," 11 July 2019 The bill directs the secretary of education to work with federal agencies to reach out to students who might be eligible for the benefits. Adam Harris, The Atlantic, "Many College Students Are Too Poor to Eat," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In all, 93 horses — plus eight also-eligibles — were drawn for the 10-race opening card. Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Horsemen looking for fresh start at Del Mar after Santa Anita crisis," 13 July 2019 With Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic opting into the 2019-20 final seasons on their contracts, every player on the current roster other than impending free-agent forward Udonis Haslem is now trade eligible. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "A Heat free-agency primer: Every option and possibility for the Summer of ’19," 26 June 2019 Designation also makes a property eligible for historic tax credits and can help attract grants for preservation work. Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "A downtown San Antonio restaurant is safe from bulldozers for now," 11 June 2019 More than 90% of students at the school are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, a measure of poverty. Ian Lovett And Tawnell D. Hobbs, WSJ, "Charter Schools Stay Open As Striking Teachers Decry Their Growth," 21 Jan. 2019 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

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


1656, in the meaning defined above

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

17 Jul 2019

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



English Language Learners Definition of eligible

: able to be chosen for something : able to do or receive something
: suitable and desirable for marriage


el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ ˈe-li-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio) \

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).


to complain fretfully

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