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

Impeachment is a blunt political tool, liable to inflame underlying disagreements. The Economist, "The case against impeachment," 12 July 2018 Who do insurers hold liable when an autonomous vehicle errs? Jason Laughlin,, "The nation's top highway official talks self driving cars," 28 June 2018 The suit also sought to have the county held liable for Clarke’s actions. Angela Helm, The Root, "Sheriff Clarke Heads to Trial for Facebook ‘Snowflake’ Threat," 6 Jan. 2018 The firm was found liable for 27 of the citations as May 2017. Robert Channick,, "Lincoln Towing says it's losing business as license hearing stirs 'public outcry' over alleged violations," 4 June 2018 Three years later, they were found liable for negligence. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "Rape Survivor Awarded $1 Billion by Jury," 25 May 2018 In most jurisdictions, individuals cannot be found liable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Anchorage Daily News, "Some employees I manage are accused of harassment. Can my company hang me out to dry for their behavior?," 30 Apr. 2018 In the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Teena’s family years later, a Nebraska county sheriff was found liable for failing to protect Teen, and his family won an $80,000 judgment. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Shock and Grief After Gay-Rights Lawyer Lights Himself on Fire in Brooklyn," 15 Apr. 2018 After the four-day long trial, a jury found Gary Shannon Gates liable for the assault and battery by way of physical abuse. Ivana Hrynkiw,, "Jury awards $300,000 to woman who said former Alabama State Trooper sexually assaulted her," 6 Apr. 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

ultimately from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligare

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Dictionary Entries near liable



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Statistics for liable

Last Updated

10 Sep 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

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Comments on liable

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to make amends

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