vi·​a·​ble | \ ˈvī-ə-bəl How to pronounce viable (audio) \

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

viably \ ˈvī-​ə-​blē How to pronounce viably (audio) \ 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 Asian countries are slowly offering a viable alternative to Western assets and expanding the market for safe debt. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "Supposedly “risk free” assets are looking awfully risky," 29 Dec. 2019 The Baker administration initially tried to start collecting payroll taxes in July, but the business community balked, saying there wasn’t enough time for insurers to set up viable alternatives., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 20 Dec. 2019 Morse ordered the state to come up with a plan to stop the long wait times — which would likely involve somehow increasing bed capacity rapidly at API, or finding viable alternatives at the hospital level. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "A lot has happened over the past year at Alaska Psychiatric Institute. Here’s where things stand now.," 14 Dec. 2019 One product of these continual adaptations, reinforced by winner-take-all elections, is that American third parties only rarely break through at any level and are never able to establish themselves as long-term viable alternatives. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "Our Two-Party System Isn’t Going Anywhere," 25 Nov. 2019 That irritation’s now shared by CU fans, who are wondering if first-year coach Mel Tucker keeps trotting out his senior signal-caller not so much out of confidence but because the Buffs don’t have a viable alternative in the bullpen yet. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Analysis: CU Buffs QB Steven Montez finds legacy — and CU’s season — at stake vs. USC Trojans," 25 Oct. 2019 But some nations still view e-cigarettes as viable alternatives to smoking, a leading cause of preventable death. Los Angeles Times, "China and India turn against vaping. But Europe sees it as safer than cigarettes," 23 Sep. 2019 The Red Devils do have viable alternatives between the sticks, with number two keeper Sergio Romero and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson both on the books in Manchester., "Manchester United Step Up Search for Goalkeepers as David de Gear Contract Standoff Continues," 1 Sep. 2019 But state officials and solid waste experts say that, even with the state’s push for more recycling and alternative uses for garbage, there is currently no viable alternative to that plant. Gregory B. Hladky,, "Hartford trash-to-energy plant back in operation after another breakdown," 29 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for viable

Time Traveler

The first known use of viable was circa 1832

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Statistics for viable

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Viable.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for viable


How to pronounce viable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of viable

: capable of being done or used
: capable of succeeding
technical : capable of living or of developing into a living thing


vi·​a·​ble | \ ˈvī-ə-bəl How to pronounce viable (audio) \

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 How to pronounce viable (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for viable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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