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 viable (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 Demand for nasal swabs and the media that keep samples viable on their way to diagnostic labs blew up to unheard of levels. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "With Apple’s help, COPAN Diagnostics ships millions of COVID sample collection kits from new Carlsbad factory," 22 Feb. 2021 Although Lillard is clearly a viable MVP candidate, many obstacles stand between him and actually winning the award. oregonlive, "Damian Lillard certainly a viable MVP candidate, but how do his analytics compare to those of recent winners?," 15 Feb. 2021 Herbert is the favorite to win the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year award, with Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson the only other viable candidate. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers earn morale-boosting win over Chiefs, but will Anthony Lynn keep his job?," 3 Jan. 2021 One source viewed Jeff Greenberg, the director of pro scouting and baseball operations, as a viable GM candidate. Mark Gonzales,, "Franchise-altering roster decisions await Jed Hoyer as the Chicago Cubs’ new baseball boss," 19 Nov. 2020 While Tomlinson’s assertion that the 1-6 Giants are competitors would seem wishful thinking, New York remains a viable candidate to win the NFC East and host a playoff game this season. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Dalvin Tomlinson views Giants as competitors despite 1-6 record," 26 Oct. 2020 Best of all, being attorney general would give Harris enough distance from the White House to still be a viable candidate for the top slot in 2024 or 2028, no matter what the state of the nation. Willie Brown,, "Willie Brown: Kamala Harris should say no to vice presidency," 8 Aug. 2020 Council members John Courage and Clayton Perry, who voted against the plan and against the lease when the council approved both in 2018, said dramatic changes are needed to keep the project viable and in the city’s best interest. Scott Huddleston,, "Alamo plan roadblock triggers San Antonio City Council argument, recriminations," 12 Nov. 2020 These cartons can stay cold enough to keep the doses viable for up to 10 days, according to details provided by the company. Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica, "Most States Aren’t Ready to Distribute the Leading COVID-19 Vaccine," 10 Nov. 2020

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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Viable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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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Comments on viable

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