li·​a·​ble | \ˈlī-ə-bəl, especially in sense 2 often ˈlī-bəl\

Definition of liable 

1a : obligated according to law or equity (see equity sense 3) : responsible liable for the debts incurred by his wife

b : subject to appropriation or attachment All his property is liable to pay his debts.

2a : being in a position to incur used with to liable to a fine

b : exposed or subject to some usually adverse contingency or action watch out or you're liable to fall

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Choose the Right Synonym for liable

liable, open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive mean being by nature or through circumstances likely to experience something adverse. liable implies a possibility or probability of incurring something because of position, nature, or particular situation. liable to get lost open stresses a lack of barriers preventing incurrence. a claim open to question exposed suggests lack of protection or powers of resistance against something actually present or threatening. exposed to infection subject implies an openness for any reason to something that must be suffered or undergone. all reports are subject to review prone stresses natural tendency or propensity to incur something. prone to delay susceptible implies conditions existing in one's nature or individual constitution that make incurrence probable. very susceptible to flattery sensitive implies a readiness to respond to or be influenced by forces or stimuli. unduly sensitive to criticism

synonyms see in addition responsible

Liable vs. Apt: Usage Guide

Both liable and apt when followed by an infinitive are used nearly interchangeably with likely. Although conflicting advice has been given over the years, most current commentators accept apt when so used. They generally recommend limiting liable to situations having an undesirable outcome, and our evidence shows that in edited writing it is more often so used than not.

Examples of liable in a Sentence

If someone gets hurt on your property, you could be liable. because of his frail constitution, he's liable to diseases

Recent Examples on the Web

Recent gains in coal prices are a reminder that timing this expected switch into gas and renewables can be tricky, with miners liable to leaving money on the table from their coal assets. Paul Garvey, WSJ, "Fans of Coal Are Reaping the Rewards," 17 Sep. 2018 Meanwhile, grieving families are still trying to hold Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites liable for the acts that occur on their platforms. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Gang rape. Suicides. Shooting deaths. The dark side of social media," 13 Apr. 2018 If the jury finds the U.S.T.A. liable for her injury, proceedings would next move to a determination of damages. Ben Rothenberg, New York Times, "Trial for Eugenie Bouchard’s Lawsuit Against U.S.T.A. Is Set to Begin," 19 Feb. 2018 Gargotta entered an order holding Bates personally liable for the company’s $14.7 million in debts. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Uresti co-defendant Bates pleads guilty to money laundering, other charges," 8 Jan. 2018 In February, the E.P.A. announced that the Missouri site would be partly excavated, at a cost to the liable companies of two hundred and thirty-six million dollars. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics," 3 Apr. 2017 In effect, if someone posts a movie clip on YouTube, or shares the text of an article on Reddit, those websites are not held legally liable. Adam Satariano, New York Times, "Tech Giants Win a Battle Over Copyright Rules in Europe," 5 July 2018 That would imply criminals are being held liable at all. Heather Knight,, "Car break-in crackdown bill made perfect sense. California lawmakers killed it," 15 June 2018 This means that companies can be held financially liable even if the utility has followed all inspection and safety rules. Maria Armental, WSJ, "12 Northern California Fires Caused by PG&E Equipment, Investigators Say," 8 June 2018

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

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

History and Etymology for liable

Middle English lyable, from Anglo-French *liable, from lier to bind, from Latin ligare — more at ligature

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Dictionary Entries near liable



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Statistics for liable

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for liable

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

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More Definitions for liable



English Language Learners Definition of liable

: legally responsible for something

: likely to be affected or harmed by something

: likely to do something


li·​a·​ble | \ˈlī-ə-bəl \

Kids Definition of liable

1 : likely sense 1 It's liable to rain.

2 : judged by law to be responsible for something We are liable for damage that we do.

3 : not sheltered or protected (as from danger or accident) liable to injury


li·​a·​ble | \ˈlī-ə-bəl \

Legal Definition of liable 

1 : answerable according to law : bound or obligated according to law or equity one is liable as an accomplice to the crime of another— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr. the estate is liable for succession taxesCommissioner of Revenue Services v. Estate of Culpepper, 493 A.2d 297 (1985)

2a : being in a position to incur used with to liable to a fine property liable to duties

b : subject or amenable according to law

History and Etymology for liable

ultimately from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligare

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Comments on liable

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


noxious or harmful

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