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

Sinclair expects the new system will enable a broader and more customized reach for viewers and advertisers. Lorraine Mirabella, baltimoresun.com, "Sinclair Broadcast will reportedly launch a free streaming TV service this year," 11 July 2018 The social platform will also soon enable many users to complete some transactions such as movie ticket purchases right within Instagram. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "The Instagram exec who’s transforming it into a shopping platform is coming to Code Commerce," 29 June 2018 Apple recently confirmed an upcoming version of its iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads would have a USB timeout feature enabled by default. Glenn Fleishman, Fortune, "Apple iOS Passcode Crack Revealed by Security Researcher. Watch the Exploit in Action," 22 June 2018 Its flexible design and state-of-the-art features also enable the venue to swiftly accommodate last-minute performances, including former Smiths frontman Morrissey. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land touts success in year-in-review," 22 June 2018 Some services, like iMessage and WhatsApp, either have cloud backups enabled by default or nudge users toward it to streamline the user experience. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "Encrypted Messaging Isn’t Magic," 14 June 2018 Members can expect extra savings on Alexa-enabled Echo and Fire TV, among other devices, purchased in Whole Foods Stores. Doreen Christensen, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Spend $10 at Whole Foods and get a free $10 Amazon Prime Day credit," 10 July 2018 Or maybe Shine was hired because of his experience in the harassment-enabling trenches. Karla Peterson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "President Trump's #MeToo actions are worse than his words," 6 July 2018 The trackpad is Precision-enabled, but is a tad small considering the overall real estate on the palm rest. Stefan Etienne, The Verge, "Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 review: jack of all trades," 2 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

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

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).


playful or foolish behavior

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