el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ ˈe-lə-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio) \

Definition of eligible

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : qualified to participate or be chosen eligible to retire
b : permitted under football rules to catch a forward pass
2 : worthy of being chosen an eligible young bachelor


plural eligibles

Definition of eligible (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person or thing that is qualified or permitted to do or be something : one that is eligible for something As with the College of Cardinals and the papacy, where every cardinal, in theory, is eligible to be Pope but the number of real eligibles is substantially smaller, so with the American Presidency.— Stephen R. Graubard … when she entered life, beautiful, accomplished, and an heiress, she had, of course, all the eligibles … of the other sex sighing at her feet …— Harriet Beecher Stowe

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Other Words from eligible


eligibly \ ˈe-​lə-​jə-​blē How to pronounce eligible (audio) \ adverb

Examples of eligible in a Sentence

Adjective … more than six years since the fall of the Taliban, fewer than 30% of eligible girls are enrolled in schools, and the infrastructure is so poor that only a tiny fraction are likely to get the education they need to enjoy the fruits of emancipation. — Aryn Baker, Time, 28 Jan. 2008 She wanted to start her own family. She was twenty-six and without prospects. At church her mother prayed, and at Crystal Nail, where she lacquered and lengthened, her mother asked customers about eligible young men. She kept Li En's graduation photo mounted in the right corner of her mirror, so that every customer would see her daughter, diploma in hand. — Max Apple, Atlantic, November 2003 I'd like to join but I'm not eligible yet.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Starting in January, nonviolent drug offenders will no longer face mandatory prison or jail sentences and will instead be eligible for probation. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 12 Oct. 2021 How many of them are eligible for the $1,000 the governor has offered to employees who get the coronavirus vaccine? Laura Johnston, cleveland, 12 Oct. 2021 Bush said Hopkins uses strict criteria to determine which patients are eligible for ECMO treatment. Hallie Miller, baltimoresun.com, 12 Oct. 2021 Like Stellantis, Ford and GM offer spousal benefits, except where state law would make domestic partners eligible. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, 11 Oct. 2021 Through a stopgap funding bill that President Biden signed into law last week, Congress made Afghan evacuees eligible for traditional refugee benefits, like Medicaid and cash assistance. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 7 Oct. 2021 But critics say all those exemptions make too many people eligible to pay no tax, thus increasing the burden on those who fail to qualify for breaks, according to the report. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, 3 Oct. 2021 The same Superior Court jury convicted Jesse Michael Gomez, 57, earlier this month of guilty of first-degree murder and a special-circumstance allegation of killing a police officer, which made Gomez eligible for the death penalty. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Sep. 2021 This aligns with the FDA's booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot. Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN, 24 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Guard Donte DiVincenzo is rookie-scale extension eligible. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 July 2021 Younger kids will have to wait longer, which will further divide our family’s vaccination status, making my daughter eligible earlier than my son. Michelle Rui, Vogue, 3 Sep. 2021 The year’s delay in staging the Tokyo Games gave Grace McCallum a chance to enhance her skills and made 16-year-old Skye Blakely age-eligible. Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2021 During the press conference, Andy Slavit, the White House coronavirus response senior adviser, reported a 45% drop in cases since every American over 16 became vaccine-eligible on April 19. Devon Link, USA TODAY, 19 May 2021 While lottery eligible, Washington could make the playoffs via the NBA’s play-in tournament. Matt Goul, cleveland, 10 May 2021 Her grandmother, both over 65 and Native American, was one of the first eligible for the Moderna shot. Victor Ordonez, ABC News, 4 June 2021 About 50% of people in Jefferson County have now had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including a higher percentage of senior citizens who were among the first eligible for the shots. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, 31 May 2021 Here's who's leaving Michigan's labor force and why As soon as Wednesday, federal regulators are expected to make anyone 12 to 15 years old eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 12 May 2021

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1656, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for eligible


Middle English, from Late Latin eligibilis, from Latin eligere to choose — more at elect

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Time Traveler for eligible

Time Traveler

The first known use of eligible was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near eligible



eligible bachelor

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Statistics for eligible

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Eligible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eligible. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of eligible

: able to be chosen for something : able to do or receive something
: suitable and desirable for marriage


el·​i·​gi·​ble | \ ˈe-li-jə-bəl How to pronounce eligible (audio) \

Kids Definition of eligible

: qualified to be chosen, to participate, or to receive You're eligible for a loan.


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