en·able | \ i-ˈnā-bəl \
enabled; enabling\i-ˈnā-b(ə-)liŋ \

Definition of enable 

transitive verb

1a : to provide with the means or opportunity training that enables people to earn a living

b : to make possible, practical, or easy a deal that would enable passage of a new law

c : to cause to operate software that enables the keyboard

2 : to give legal power, capacity, or sanction to a law enabling admission of a state

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

For other trips, Dr. Price’s staff cited schedule constraints that could have been adjusted to enable him to fly commercial, the inspector general concluded. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "HHS Watchdog Pushes to Recoup $341,000 Wasted by Ex-Secretary Price on Travel," 13 July 2018 With 4,000 square feet and four bedrooms, the house had all the structural elements the couple was looking for, which enabled them to invest everything into the furnishings. Ottavia Zappala, azcentral, "Gold Canyon couple turns enormous great room into a cozy haven," 12 July 2018 Keeton said his strength enabled him to excel at many sports in high school, including swimming, diving, running and football. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Meet Kenosha's Jamie 'Can Head' Keeton, the human suction cup," 12 July 2018 One of the main reasons for that move is to enable us to spend more time outdoors without the need to get on an airplane or log tons of highway miles. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "In Defense of Off-Roading," 12 July 2018 BeON stopped selling its intelligent bulbs last year but was still taking meetings with investors in early 2018, hoping to raise the money to enable it to design a wider range of products. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, "Why one Boston home security startup caught on and another didn’t," 12 July 2018 As the University of Rhode Island’s Erik Loomis counsels, the only way to truly enforce such standards, as well as protect the human rights of workers, is to enable them to file trade disputes when a company breaks the rules. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Inevitable Death of Global Trade As We Know It," 12 July 2018 One in 365 African-American babies are born with the disease and 1 in 13 carry the trait that could enable them to pass it on to their children. Andrea K. Mcdaniels, baltimoresun.com, "Howard County family provides support for sickle cell disease patients," 11 July 2018 But a series of experiments has found that fresh mitochondria can revive flagging cells and enable them to quickly recover. New York Times, "Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enable.' 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 enable

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

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Statistics for enable

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for enable

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

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More Definitions for enable



English Language Learners Definition of enable

: to make (someone or something) able to do or to be something

: to make (something) possible, practical, or easy

: to cause (a feature or capability of a computer) to be active or available for use


en·able | \ i-ˈnā-bəl \
enabled; enabling

Kids Definition of enable

: to give strength, power, or ability to : make able A good night's sleep enabled me to face the day refreshed.

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Comments on enable

What made you want to look up enable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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