li·​a·​ble | \ ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio) , especially in sense 2 often ˈlī-bəl \

Definition of liable

1a : obligated according to law or equity (see equity sense 3) : responsible liable for the debts incurred by his wife
b : subject to appropriation or attachment All his property is liable to pay his debts.
2a : being in a position to incur used with to liable to a fine
b : exposed or subject to some usually adverse contingency or action watch out or you're liable to fall

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Choose the Right Synonym for liable

liable, open, exposed, subject, prone, susceptible, sensitive mean being by nature or through circumstances likely to experience something adverse. liable implies a possibility or probability of incurring something because of position, nature, or particular situation. liable to get lost open stresses a lack of barriers preventing incurrence. a claim open to question exposed suggests lack of protection or powers of resistance against something actually present or threatening. exposed to infection subject implies an openness for any reason to something that must be suffered or undergone. all reports are subject to review prone stresses natural tendency or propensity to incur something. prone to delay susceptible implies conditions existing in one's nature or individual constitution that make incurrence probable. very susceptible to flattery sensitive implies a readiness to respond to or be influenced by forces or stimuli. unduly sensitive to criticism

synonyms see in addition responsible

Liable vs. Apt: Usage Guide

Both liable and apt when followed by an infinitive are used nearly interchangeably with likely. Although conflicting advice has been given over the years, most current commentators accept apt when so used. They generally recommend limiting liable to situations having an undesirable outcome, and our evidence shows that in edited writing it is more often so used than not.

Examples of liable in a Sentence

If someone gets hurt on your property, you could be liable. because of his frail constitution, he's liable to diseases
Recent Examples on the Web In July, the judge found the Air Force mostly liable for the shooting. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, 14 Oct. 2021 Though Simpson was acquitted of the double murders in October 1995, the former NFL star was deemed liable for the deaths in 1997 in a civil case brought by the two victims' families. Gabrielle Chung And K.c. Baker,, 13 Oct. 2021 Depending on the legislation this can create problems since you, as founders, can become personally liable to reimburse the loan. Melinda Elmborg, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 Amplify, however, can later seek to recover its losses from other liable parties. Fox News, 12 Oct. 2021 Amplify, however, can later seek to recover its losses from other liable parties. Brian Melley, USA TODAY, 12 Oct. 2021 Amplify, however, can later seek to recover its losses from other liable parties. Brian Melley, ajc, 12 Oct. 2021 It’s the ickiest of these franchises, the most liable to show you a body opened up mid-autopsy — the sort of thing once restricted to second features on drive-in double bills. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2021 In cases where a company is unable to pay, or found not liable, cleanup agencies can tap a federal fund that is maintained through corporate taxes on oil and gas production. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 4 Oct. 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for liable

Middle English lyable, from Anglo-French *liable, from lier to bind, from Latin ligare — more at ligature

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Time Traveler for liable

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near liable

liability limit



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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Liable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for liable



English Language Learners Definition of liable

: legally responsible for something
: likely to be affected or harmed by something
: likely to do something


li·​a·​ble | \ ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio) \

Kids Definition of liable

1 : likely sense 1 It's liable to rain.
2 : judged by law to be responsible for something We are liable for damage that we do.
3 : not sheltered or protected (as from danger or accident) liable to injury


li·​a·​ble | \ ˈlī-ə-bəl How to pronounce liable (audio) \

Legal Definition of liable

1 : answerable according to law : bound or obligated according to law or equity one is liable as an accomplice to the crime of another— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr. the estate is liable for succession taxesCommissioner of Revenue Services v. Estate of Culpepper, 493 A.2d 297 (1985)
2a : being in a position to incur used with to liable to a fine property liable to duties
b : subject or amenable according to law

History and Etymology for liable

ultimately from Old French lier to bind, from Latin ligare

More from Merriam-Webster on liable

Nglish: Translation of liable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of liable for Arabic Speakers


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