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

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 Sedwick found Dunleavy and Babcock could be personally liable and are not protected by qualified immunity, the legal protection given to public officials working under their normal duties. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Nov. 2021 The Build Back Better bill would also allow the NLRB to judge whether a company’s directors or officers should be personally liable for unfair labor practices. Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2021 If social media executives were held personally liable for transgressions, behavior would change. Steve Andriole, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 Drivers may have been responsible, or defective vehicles, and their makers, liable. William Thornton |, al, 20 Sep. 2021 Across Europe, laws emerged that made individuals criminally liable for their thoughts and words, not just for their actions. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Sep. 2021 Psaki added that if damage occurs from the debris -- for which China could be held financially liable -- the White House would consult with U.S. Space Command and the Department of Defense on how best to proceed. Julia Musto, Fox News, 8 May 2021 Lawyers for the counties suggested the Teva could be held liable for tens of billions of dollars, or more, in damages. Jennifer Peltz, ajc, 30 Dec. 2021 Lawyers for the counties suggested the Teva could be held liable for tens of billions of dollars, or more, in damages. Jennifer Peltz, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Dec. 2021

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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Time Traveler for liable

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near liable

liability limit



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Last Updated

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Liable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on liable

Nglish: Translation of liable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liable for Arabic Speakers


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