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

Murphy has tightened his handle and added an outside shot, making himself a viable option to play minutes on the perimeter, something he rarely, if ever, did with the Gophers. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Gophers great Jordan Murphy showcases sharpened skills with Timberwolves," 6 July 2019 Both want to figure out how to one day turn autonomous vehicles into a viable, money-making business. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Waymo Goes Global With Renault-Nissan Partnership," 20 June 2019 The farmers who had laid claim to these desirable traits inadvertently lost others, such as flavor, nutritional value and drought resistance — dropped by the same random processes that made the fruit commercially viable. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "A New Green Revolution: Scientists Are Using CRISPR to Re-domesticate Fruits and Vegetables," 15 Apr. 2019 Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company's preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. NBC News, "Harley-Davidson to move some production overseas to offset tariffs," 25 June 2018 Exiting an e-commerce investment through an IPO is uncommon in India, given that only a few firms have achieved the scale to make this a viable option for investors to cash out. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "India’s oldest e-commerce firm’s IPO is a rare way out for investors," 24 June 2019 The one that struggled offensively — lacked power, and had few viable pitching options? Sam Blum |,, "Auburn baseball plans to get back to the CWS. Are they equipped to do it?," 22 June 2019 But the eggs were removed from the nest this week ahead of a storm that was expected to flood the beach, in the hope of keeping them viable. Morgan Greene,, "Beachside fest Mamby’s move to Montrose creating waves between birders, boaters, neighbors and music fans," 14 June 2019 Samardzija is no longer a 200-inning per year pitcher, but through the first two-plus months of the season, he’s proven to be a viable option and even boasts the lowest ERA (3.72) among all Giants starters. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Trade buzz: What to expect from the Giants and Farhan Zaidi at this summer’s deadline," 13 June 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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Dictionary Entries near viable





via crucis

via dolorosa


Statistics for viable

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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
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

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

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food or victuals

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