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

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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.

Example Sentences

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 The incubation program assists technology startups during their vulnerable inception stages, enabling them to grow and flourish. IEEE Spectrum, 17 May 2023 Within the region, that means opening more independent cinemas to enable more of an art house scene to grow. Becky Lucas, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 May 2023 There needs to be a culture shift in R&D teams to enable full benefits from a co-localization hub environment, with greater interaction and integration of teams. Paul Hudson, Fortune, 17 May 2023 On Tuesday, an enabling bill won final House approval, 120-19. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, 17 May 2023 Prosecutors said the men had damaged the bars on the window ahead of the heist and reattached them to enable quicker access. Kate Brady, Washington Post, 16 May 2023 By not pushing back, Musk is enabling authoritarianism in Turkey and possibly elsewhere. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 15 May 2023 Our small UnCruise ship, known for Alaska wilderness experiences, enabled us to kayak and hike away from the crowds. Eileen Ogintz, Chicago Tribune, 11 May 2023 The Storm Shadow missile, with a 990-pound explosive warhead, would enable Ukraine to launch powerful strikes on targets in Crimea, the peninsula that Russia illegally seized in 2014. Matthew Mpoke Bigg, New York Times, 11 May 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 30 May. 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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