ver·​sa·​tile | \ ˈvər-sə-tᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio) , especially British -ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce versatile (audio) \

Essential Meaning of versatile

1 : able to do many different things She is a versatile athlete who participates in many different sports.
2 : having many different uses A pocketknife is a versatile tool.

Full Definition of versatile

1 : embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills also : turning with ease from one thing to another
2 : having many uses or applications versatile building material
3 : changing or fluctuating readily : variable a versatile disposition
4a(1) : capable of turning forward or backward : reversible a versatile toe of a bird
(2) : capable of moving laterally and up and down versatile antennae
b of an anther : having the filaments attached at or near the middle so as to swing freely

Other Words from versatile

versatilely \ ˈvər-​sə-​tᵊl-​(l)ē How to pronounce versatile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
versatileness \ ˈvər-​sə-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce versatile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​nəs \ noun

Examples of versatile in a Sentence

Horses stand apart because of their versatile roles in human society, which came to include dairy production, transportation, haulage, plowing, sports, warfare, religion, and status. — Sandra L. Olsen, Natural History, May 2008 Linemen have to be nimble, corners physical and linebackers versatile. — Peter King, Sports Illustrated, 22 Dec. 2008 Adobos are the Philippines' most beloved, and most versatile, dishes. They consist of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables (such as okra and eggplant) slow-cooked in an aromatic broth of vinegar or coconut milk, garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, and, sometimes, soy sauce until virtually all the liquid has evaporated. — Amy Besa, Saveur, December 2008 This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three scientists for their work on a versatile strategy for synthesizing all manner of novel chemical compounds in an environmentally friendly way.  … The three scientists focused on a reaction called metathesis … — A. Cunningham, Science News, 15 Oct. 2005 Within weeks [Gerd] Binnig, then 38 and with an infant daughter, worked with a colleague to build a prototype for what has become one of the most versatile scientific tools ever created: the atomic force microscope, or AFM. — Ivan Amato, Fortune, 14 June 2004 She is a versatile athlete who participates in many different sports. A pocketknife is a versatile tool.
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Recent Examples on the Web Backcountry enthusiasts also want tougher, more versatile outerwear layers to face unpredictable conditions, and high-performance but ever-lighter skis to travel uphill. Brigid Mander, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 There’s another reason that benchmarks are becoming less important — the fact that phone chips are becoming more versatile, and using artificial intelligence more. Christian De Looper, BGR, 7 Dec. 2021 The Bulldogs bring a sizable and versatile lineup that’ll test Alabama’s ability to adapt. Michael Casagrande |, al, 3 Dec. 2021 Clearly, the Ugg slipper is versatile enough to be worn with anything — and anywhere, for that matter. Alex Warner,, 2 Dec. 2021 Nevertheless, a versatile and valuable bullpen piece. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 30 Nov. 2021 Nance is versatile enough to handle big men inside and at least provide some resistance outside on smaller players. oregonlive, 18 Nov. 2021 Your billing system must be versatile enough to add customers quickly and efficiently. James Messer, Forbes, 9 Nov. 2021 These sausages—along with other flavors offered like Chile Relleno, and Sherry and Shallot—are versatile enough to deploy many ways in your cooking, from chopped up in your pasta to topping a grain bowl. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 19 July 2021

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

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for versatile

borrowed from Latin versātilis "able to turn, operated by turning, capable of turning to different tasks," from versāre "to keep turning" (frequentative of vertere "to turn") + -tilis, suffix with the sense "characterized by, obtained by" — more at worth entry 1

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The first known use of versatile was in 1605

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Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Versatile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for versatile


ver·​sa·​tile | \ ˈvər-sə-tᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio) \

Kids Definition of versatile

1 : able to do many different kinds of things
2 : having many uses a versatile tool

More from Merriam-Webster on versatile

Nglish: Translation of versatile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of versatile for Arabic Speakers


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