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

The return on midfielder Uri Rosell and the emergence of Cristian Higuita as a viable defensive mid alongside Yoshi Yotún have meant limited opportunities for Lindley on match day. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City midfielder Cam Lindley called up for 2018 MLS Homegrown Game," 12 July 2018 There have been signs the plaza can be viable, such as recent approval for a large entertainment center in the former Hobby Lobby building. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "City Council OKs new plans for Aurora University, West Plaza," 29 June 2018 The first exclusive negotiating deal in March 2014 ended within months, after the team’s then-managing partner, Lew Wolff, backed by Major League Baseball, concluded the waterfront site wasn’t viable. Matier & Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, "Nothing happens quickly at BART; Powell Street face-lift is no exception," 23 Apr. 2018 But with the semester underway, going to Iraq wasn’t viable. Susan Snyder,, "An Iraqi man's bond with a Penn State professor started with an email. Then U.S. forces bombed his house.," 13 Apr. 2018 Residents initially pushed to have the county designate the lawn as parkland, but were told by the landowner that proposal was not viable. Libby Solomon,, "Widespread support, a couple passionate detractors at Bosley Estates public meeting," 12 July 2018 Atkinson wrote that paying to display snippets was not viable and would ultimately reduce the amount of traffic that Google sent publishers via Google News and search. Klint Finley, WIRED, "Europe Considers a New Copyright Law. Here's Why That Matters," 20 June 2018 There is a mutual interest in delay: the sheer number of stars available next summer means there will be more cap room to go around, which leaves free agents themselves with more viable options. Rob Mahoney,, "NBA Free Agency: The Thought Behind the One-Year Deal Trend," 12 July 2018 Will Hagans, Quickley and Johnson be able to defend well enough to make bringing the lone returning guard off the bench a viable option? Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Three questions facing John Calipari in summer UK basketball practices," 4 July 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

6 Sep 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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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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