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

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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

Rigorous, ongoing analysis of development projects is slow, expensive, hard—and, as researchers keep discovering, liable to turn up uncomfortable facts. The Economist, "Why an anti-poverty programme in Bangladesh failed," 15 June 2019 Hoyal’s wife, Lori Hoyal, was named as the third individual who is jointly liable with the companies for the judgment., "Federal judge in OR orders halt to national newspaper subscription scam, issues $8.9 million judgment," 12 June 2019 Many states, including Florida, have Dram Shop Act laws that can hold those who serve clearly intoxicated patrons liable for damages. A.j. Perez, USA TODAY, "Tiger Woods' lawyers: Woods has no connection to bartender's death, want lawsuit tossed," 11 June 2019 The next three weeks was a period of constant anxiety, the ice pack surging back and forth along the shore on each tide, and liable to crash in upon us at any time. Robert E. (robert Edwin) Peary, Harper's magazine, "Unyielding Ice," 10 June 2019 Under the law of parties - a Texas law that holds co-conspirators just as criminally liable as shooters - Halprin was sentenced to death, along with the other five surviving members of the crew. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Jewish ‘Texas 7’ death row prisoner claims judge was anti-Semitic," 10 June 2019 That body of law — created by judicial opinions rather than statutes — plays a central role in governing everything from property rights to contract disputes to who’s liable when accidents happen. Ian Macdougall, ProPublica, "Soon You May Not Even Have to Click on a Website Contract to Be Bound by Its Terms," 20 May 2019 But if your product is really successful, Amazon is liable to use its control of the storefront to gather that data and then start creating a copycat product that undermines your margins. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Why criticism of Amazon isn’t sticking," 11 Dec. 2018 Over a long enough time span, all data is liable to be breached. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook keeps asking for our trust even as it loses control of our data," 13 Oct. 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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Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with liable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for liable

Spanish Central: Translation of liable

Nglish: Translation of liable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liable for Arabic Speakers

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behavior toward others

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