adjective li·a·ble \ˈlī-ə-bəl, especially in sense 2 often ˈlī-bəl\

Definition of liable

  1. 1a :  obligated according to law or equity (see equity 2) :  responsible liable for the debts incurred by his wifeb :  subject to appropriation or attachment All his property is liable to pay his debts.

  2. 2a :  being in a position to incur —used with to liable to a fineb :  exposed or subject to some usually adverse contingency or action watch out or you're liable to fall

liable vs. apt

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

  1. If someone gets hurt on your property, you could be liable.

  2. because of his frail constitution, he's liable to diseases

Origin and Etymology of liable

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

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


adjective li·a·ble \ˈlī-ə-bəl, especially in sense 2 often ˈlī-bəl\

Definition of liable for English Language Learners

  • : legally responsible for something

  • : likely to be affected or harmed by something

  • : likely to do something

LIABLE Defined for Kids


adjective li·a·ble \ˈlī-ə-bəl\

Definition of liable for Students

  1. 1 :  likely 1 It's liable to rain.

  2. 2 :  judged by law to be responsible for something We are liable for damage that we do.

  3. 3 :  not sheltered or protected (as from danger or accident) liable to injury

Law Dictionary


adjective li·a·ble \ˈlī-ə-bəl\

Legal Definition of liable

  1. 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 taxes — Commissioner of Revenue Services v. Estate of Culpepper, 493 A.2d 297 (1985)

  2. 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

Origin and Etymology of liable

ultimately from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligare

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up liable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

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