en·​able i-ˈnā-bəl How to pronounce enable (audio)
enabled; enabling i-ˈnā-b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce enable (audio)

transitive verb

: to provide with the means or opportunity
training that enables people to earn a living
: to make possible, practical, or easy
a deal that would enable passage of a new law
: to cause to operate
software that enables the keyboard
: to give legal power, capacity, or sanction to
a law enabling admission of a state

Did you know?

Enabling: The Behavior of an Enabler

Enable has a number of senses, most of which are some variant on allowing someone (or something, such as enabling cookies on a computer) to do something. In the past several decades, enable has also started to take on a new associated sense in the field of addiction studies, where enabling is viewed as giving misguided support to a person with some substance-abuse issue. A person who facilitates the self-destructive behavior of another is referred to as an enabler.

Examples of enable in a Sentence

The machine enables us to create copies without losing quality. The system enables students to access class materials online. These choices are part of what enabled the company to be successful. a filing system that enables easy access to information Be sure to enable your computer's firewall.
Recent Examples on the Web Weeks of aerial bombardment and an ensuing ground offensive — both now temporarily paused to enable an exchange of hostages and prisoners — have killed thousands of children and other civilians in the Palestinian enclave. Alex Horton, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 The United Nations said the pause enabled it to scale up the delivery of food, water, and medicine to the largest volume since the resumption of aid convoys on Oct. 21. CBS News, 25 Nov. 2023 Cody says the events help enable ROWW to keep Paul’s vision going. Andrea Mandell, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 The researchers speculated that the phenomenon could be comparable to other reflexes, like coughing or sneezing, that enable the spread of microbes. Deborah Balthazar, STAT, 22 Nov. 2023 Lenovo describes it as a hinge block enabling 2-in-1 laptops to go from clamshell mode to tablet mode. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 22 Nov. 2023 Ukraine managed to survive the assaults thanks to air defense systems from Western allies that enabled it to intercept more Russian missiles, round-the-clock work by engineers to repair vital equipment, and the energy-saving ingenuity of residents. Constant Méheut, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Social media enables our tendency to take things to the extreme. Landon Block, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Nov. 2023 Muse Villas, a newcomer seeking to offer an elevated resort experience, enables travelers to stay on their own private islet. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 15 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'enable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near enable

Cite this Entry

“Enable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enable. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​able in-ˈā-bəl How to pronounce enable (audio)
enabled; enabling -b(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce enable (audio)
: to make able
glasses enable you to read
: to make possible, practical, or easy
: to give legal power or permission to

More from Merriam-Webster on enable

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