liable

adjective

li·​a·​ble ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio)
especially in sense 2 often
ˈlī-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio)
1
a
: obligated according to law or equity (see equity sense 3) : responsible
Both owners are liable for the debts incurred by the business.
b
: subject to appropriation or attachment
All his property is liable to pay his debts.
2
a
: 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.
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.

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

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 Those who commit misdeeds on the president’s behalf — Seal Team 6, in that one hypothetical — could be criminally liable for their actions. Editorial Board, Washington Post, 1 July 2024 He was found liable for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman in a civil trial. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 1 July 2024 The utility company’s equipment has been blamed for sparking some of the worst fires in state history, including the 2018 Camp Fire that devastated Paradise, and PG&E Corp. has been found liable for billions of dollars worth of destruction. Daniel Hunt, Sacramento Bee, 30 June 2024 The court said the settlement improperly shielded members of the Sackler family from being held personally liable from future suits when not all the victims who sued agreed to that provision. Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News, 27 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for liable 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'liable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near liable

Cite this Entry

“Liable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liable. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

liable

adjective
li·​a·​ble ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio)
 especially in senses 2 & 3 often  ˈlī-bəl
1
: forced by law or by what is right to make good
we are liable for damage that we do
2
: not sheltered or protected (as from danger or accident)
liable to diseases
3
: exposed to or likely to experience something that usually is undesirable
you're liable to slip there
it's liable to rain before we're done

Legal Definition

liable

adjective
li·​a·​ble ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio)
1
: answerable according to law : bound or obligated according to law or equity
one is liable as an accomplice to the crime of anotherW. 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)
2
a
: being in a position to incur
used with to
liable to a fine
property liable to duties
b
: subject or amenable according to law
Etymology

ultimately from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligare

More from Merriam-Webster on liable

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