ver·​sa·​tile ˈvər-sə-tᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio)
especially British
-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce versatile (audio)
: embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills
also : turning with ease from one thing to another
: having many uses or applications
versatile building material
: changing or fluctuating readily : variable
a versatile disposition
: capable of turning forward or backward : reversible
a versatile toe of a bird
: capable of moving laterally and up and down
versatile antennae
of an anther : having the filaments attached at or near the middle so as to swing freely
ˈvər-sə-tᵊl-(l)ē How to pronounce versatile (audio)
ˈvər-sə-tᵊl-nəs How to pronounce versatile (audio)

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Extras like utensil holders, versatile Dutch ovens, and more are points of consideration when evaluating slow cookers. Carrie Honaker, Southern Living, 8 Sep. 2023 Better Homes & Gardens Abbott Exposed Clay Stoneware Divided Serving Tray The versatile Better Homes & Gardens Abbott Exposed Clay Stoneware Divided Serving Tray is a welcome addition to a holiday entertaining display as well as weeknight meals. Megan Boettcher, Better Homes & Gardens, 8 Sep. 2023 With Santa Margarita down 21-0 and 29-8 on Thursday night at Bishop Amat, the Eagles started turning to the versatile Trent Mosley, a sophomore with tremendous offensive skills. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2023 The Doctor Strange collection — like others in Folio’s series — is compiled and introduced by Roy Thomas, Stan Lee’s successor as head of Marvel as well as a versatile comics writer himself. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 Donning versatile athleisure clothes suitable for various activities from the lake to the golf course, Both Zac and Efron beckon us to bet on Vuori and get these versatile, stylish performance clothes for ourselves right now. Maverick Li, Men's Health, 8 Sep. 2023 Jasmine is someone with a versatile hitting ability. Sam Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2023 In addition to featuring six shade families, where the foundation and concealer really shine—for both fairer and darker tones—is through their versatile undertone offerings, available in neutral, rosy, peach, and golden. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 7 Sep. 2023 This versatile kegerator is a favorite for both home brewers and taproom patrons. Danny Perez, Popular Mechanics, 7 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of versatile was in 1605

Dictionary Entries Near versatile

Cite this Entry

“Versatile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ver·​sa·​tile ˈvər-sət-ᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio)
: able to do many different kinds of things

from French versatile or Latin versatilis, both meaning "versatile, able to change," derived from Latin versari "to turn, change, reside (in a place)," from vertere "to turn" — related to converse, reverse, universe, vertical, vice versa

More from Merriam-Webster on versatile

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!