vi·​a·​ble | \ˈvī-ə-bəl \

Definition of viable 

1a : capable of living a viable skin graft viable offspring

b of a fetus : having attained such form and development of organs as to be normally capable of surviving outside the uterus a 26-week old viable fetus

c : capable of growing or developing viable seeds viable eggs

2a : capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately viable alternatives

b : capable of existence and development as an independent unit The colony is now a viable state.

c(1) : having a reasonable chance of succeeding a viable candidate

(2) : financially sustainable a viable enterprise

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Other Words from viable

viability \ˌvī-​ə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
viably \ˈvī-​ə-​blē \ adverb

Examples of viable in a Sentence

The departure point for a viable peace deal—either with Syria or the Palestinians—must not be based purely on what the political traffic in Israel will bear, but on the requirements of all sides. — Aaron David Miller, Newsweek, 12 Jan. 2009 As gene therapy begins to enjoy some preliminary successes, scientists at the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees drug testing for the Olympics, have started to worry that dopers might now see abuse of gene therapy in sport as a viable option, though the practice was banned by WADA in 2003. — Patrick Barry, Science News, 2 Aug. 2008 Under today's forest management practices, few trees die natural deaths and fewer still attain the girth of the old-growth trees that supported the ivory-bill. The sad fact is that there is really no place in the United States today where a viable population of ivory-bills could persist even if captive reared birds were on hand to stock a release program. — John Terborgh, New York Review of Books, 26 Apr. 2007 To ponder [John] Updike's work in now old-fashioned sociopolitical terms, it might be said that he examines our struggle to maintain a viable center for our inner life while enduring the most revolutionary force in history—American capitalism. — Robert Stone, New York Times Book Review, 18 June 2006 At stake is the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth. Or, as one eminent scientist put it, the pending question is whether the combination of an opposable thumb and a neocortex is a viable combination on this planet. — Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006 When a patient agrees to forego a bed at the Portland VA—so far 75% of viable candidates have agreed to do so—a small "strike force" swings into action. The patient is sent home, typically with various medicines, oxygen tanks, and sometimes, a mobile X-ray machine. A nurse visits every day to perform tests, provide IV infusions and monitor medications. As a backup, a physician is on 24-hour standby for emergencies. — Gautam Naik, Wall Street Journal, 19 Apr. 2006 Another truth is that corks expire with age. A few wineries recognize that fact and recork their library wines every 25 years or so, but that's not a viable process for most collectors. — James Laube, Wine Spectator, 31 Mar. 2005 a viable solution to the problem He could not suggest a viable alternative. Is she a viable candidate?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Two were deemed viable to try, and the second one stuck. Elissa Strauss, Glamour, "The Great Frozen Embryo Debate," 11 Oct. 2018 On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Chambers told Recode’s Kara Swisher that businesses used to have to reinvent themselves every decade to remain viable. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why tech companies need to reinvent themselves every three to four years," 10 Oct. 2018 And what’s the special sauce that actually makes a viable, dynamic, livable neighborhood? Curbed, "Can money create a neighborhood?," 19 Sep. 2018 The common thread here is that airframes themselves, while often in need of enhancements and reinforcements, often remain viable if not highly effective for decades. Kris Osborn, Fox News, "Marines will fly Osprey until 2060, prepping the aircraft for future wars," 18 Sep. 2018 Just like the new Messages features, these changes strike me as the bare minimum to remain viable against competing apps and platforms. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "iOS 12, thoroughly reviewed," 17 Sep. 2018 Asked if Jackson’s nomination is still viable, the committee chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. Time, "Trump VA Chief Nominee Ronny Jackson Fights on Despite Alleged Misconduct and Workplace Drunkenness," 25 Apr. 2018 Asked if Jackson's nomination is still viable, the committee chairman, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., "Watchdog Report Points to Power Struggle Involving Veterans Affairs Pick," 25 Apr. 2018 But Democrats have a bunch of viable options in the next generation of party leadership. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "House Democrats don’t need a leader, they need someone to represent them on TV," 20 Nov. 2018

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

circa 1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for viable

French, from Middle French, from vie life, from Latin vita — more at vital

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Dictionary Entries near viable





via crucis

via dolorosa


Statistics for viable

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for viable

The first known use of viable was circa 1832

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More Definitions for viable



English Language Learners Definition of viable

: capable of being done or used

: capable of succeeding

: capable of living or of developing into a living thing


vi·​a·​ble | \ˈvī-ə-bəl \

Kids Definition of viable

1 : capable of living or growing viable seeds

2 : possible to use or apply a viable plan


vi·​a·​ble | \ˈvī-ə-bəl \

Medical Definition of viable 

1 : capable of living the skin graft was viable viable cancer cells especially : having attained such form and development as to be normally capable of surviving outside the uterus a 26-week old viable fetus

2 : capable of growing or developing viable eggs

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More from Merriam-Webster on viable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with viable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for viable

Spanish Central: Translation of viable

Nglish: Translation of viable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of viable for Arabic Speakers

Comments on viable

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


a nest or breeding place

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