op·​pos·​able | \ ə-ˈpō-zə-bəl How to pronounce opposable (audio) \

Definition of opposable

1 : capable of being opposed or resisted
2 : capable of being placed against one or more of the remaining digits of a hand or foot the opposable human thumb

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Other Words from opposable

opposability \ ə-​ˌpō-​zə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce opposability (audio) \ noun

Examples of opposable in a Sentence

Humans have an opposable thumb.
Recent Examples on the Web Our language is uninterested in the verdicts of the old man’s thumbs (opposable, yet—for the moment, at least—unopposed). Salman Rushdie, The New Yorker, "The Old Man in the Piazza," 16 Nov. 2020 Raccoons have five digits on their paws but actually lack opposable thumbs. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "Fun facts about raccoons, the masked bandits that steal hearts as well as garbage around San Antonio," 25 Aug. 2020 Pictures in some form have been around almost as long as opposable thumbs. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, "Cars and Movies Go Together," 6 Jan. 2020 Sensory signals travel up this cable from the fingers and, crucially, motor signals flow back down from the brain to move the thumb toward the pinkie, giving us the opposable thumb that makes humans distinct. STAT, "Surgeons test-drive the amputation of the future with a mail-order limb, rerouted nerve, and prosthetic hand that grips like the real thing," 12 Dec. 2019 More to the point, though, climbing bamboo trees is difficult without an opposable digit. National Geographic, "This bizarre primate has a newly discovered digit," 21 Oct. 2019 Then more sad and happy things happen — things that Enzo, with his gruff inner monologue and his non-opposable thumbs, can only share with the people sitting on the other side of this celluloid. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "The Art of Racing in the Rain is earnest, floppy-eared family entertainment," 6 Aug. 2019 This allows you the use of your most helpful digits — your index finger and opposable thumbs — for as long as possible. Jessica Ourisman, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Static Nails," 24 July 2019 Spring in our step Primate feet evolved mostly to grasp while climbing, which is why chimpanzees have more flexible feet than humans and why their big toes are opposable, like our thumbs. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The road to bipedalism wasn’t straight and narrow," 15 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'opposable.' 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 opposable

circa 1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for opposable

oppose + -able

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Time Traveler for opposable

Time Traveler

The first known use of opposable was circa 1812

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Statistics for opposable

Last Updated

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Opposable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opposable. Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for opposable


How to pronounce opposable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of opposable

technical : able to be placed against one or more of the other fingers or toes on the same hand or foot


op·​pos·​able | \ ə-ˈpō-zə-bəl How to pronounce opposable (audio) \

Medical Definition of opposable

: capable of being placed against one or more of the remaining digits of a hand or foot an opposable thumb

Other Words from opposable

opposability \ -​ˌpō-​zə-​ˈbil-​ət-​ē How to pronounce opposability (audio) \ noun, plural opposabilities

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