li·​a·​ble | \ ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio) , 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 toliable 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 In May a court ruled that his employer, the rail-engineering company TSO, is liable for the death and must provide compensation to the employee’s family. oregonlive, "Having fatal sex is an industrial accident, French court rules; company must pay for dead employee’s final fling," 13 Sep. 2019 The Registration Convention requires registration with the United Nations before sending something to space and the Liability Convention states that a nation is liable for damage if its space object harms someone else's. Deanna Paul, Anchorage Daily News, "Space: The final legal frontier," 1 Sep. 2019 The suit also alleges Juul is liable for failure to warn its customers about nicotine addiction. Cindy Krischer Goodman,, "Vaping triggers health issues for Florida teens," 31 Aug. 2019 Other federal appeals courts have held that Amazon isn't liable. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "With Prime Day, Amazon creates urgent shopping on two otherwise nameless summer workdays," 15 July 2019 The chicks hatch in late June and early July, and during that time, are liable to hatch and flee the nest just about any time between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., Willis says. National Geographic, "Why day-old geese jump off cliffs—and how some survive," 28 Mar. 2019 After their wedding the tabloids were quick to speculate that some of the couple’s U.K. assets would come under scrutiny by the IRS, since, as an American citizen, Meghan is liable to be taxed on all her overseas earnings. David Mcclure, Town & Country, "How Queen Elizabeth's Fortune Is Divided Among the Members of the Royal Family," 16 Feb. 2019 In October, Jean’s family filed a federal lawsuit against Guyger and the city of Dallas, arguing that the former officer violated Jean’s constitutional rights and that the Dallas Police Department is liable for Jean’s death. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Amber Guyger has been indicted for murder after the Botham Jean shooting," 30 Nov. 2018 But the case failed to hold the federal government liable for its lawyer’s actions. Washington Post, "US wants $100,000-plus from immigrant who sued over forgery," 12 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for liable

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for liable

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

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More Definitions for liable


How to pronounce liable (audio)

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 How to pronounce liable (audio) \

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 How to pronounce liable (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on liable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for liable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with liable

Spanish Central: Translation of liable

Nglish: Translation of liable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liable for Arabic Speakers

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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