ver·​sa·​tile | \ ˈvər-sə-tᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio) , especially British -ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce versatile (audio) \

Essential Meaning of versatile

1 : able to do many different things She is a versatile athlete who participates in many different sports.
2 : having many different uses A pocketknife is a versatile tool.

Full Definition of versatile

1 : embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills also : turning with ease from one thing to another
2 : having many uses or applications versatile building material
3 : changing or fluctuating readily : variable a versatile disposition
4a(1) : capable of turning forward or backward : reversible a versatile toe of a bird
(2) : capable of moving laterally and up and down versatile antennae
b of an anther : having the filaments attached at or near the middle so as to swing freely

Other Words from versatile

versatilely \ ˈvər-​sə-​tᵊl-​(l)ē How to pronounce versatile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
versatileness \ ˈvər-​sə-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce versatile (audio) , -​ˌtī(-​ə)l-​nəs \ noun

Examples of versatile in a Sentence

Horses stand apart because of their versatile roles in human society, which came to include dairy production, transportation, haulage, plowing, sports, warfare, religion, and status. — Sandra L. Olsen, Natural History, May 2008 Linemen have to be nimble, corners physical and linebackers versatile. — Peter King, Sports Illustrated, 22 Dec. 2008 Adobos are the Philippines' most beloved, and most versatile, dishes. They consist of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables (such as okra and eggplant) slow-cooked in an aromatic broth of vinegar or coconut milk, garlic, black pepper, bay leaves, and, sometimes, soy sauce until virtually all the liquid has evaporated. — Amy Besa, Saveur, December 2008 This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to three scientists for their work on a versatile strategy for synthesizing all manner of novel chemical compounds in an environmentally friendly way.  … The three scientists focused on a reaction called metathesis … — A. Cunningham, Science News, 15 Oct. 2005 Within weeks [Gerd] Binnig, then 38 and with an infant daughter, worked with a colleague to build a prototype for what has become one of the most versatile scientific tools ever created: the atomic force microscope, or AFM. — Ivan Amato, Fortune, 14 June 2004 She is a versatile athlete who participates in many different sports. A pocketknife is a versatile tool.
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Recent Examples on the Web Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Blue Streaks had a more versatile, veteran lineup, and Magnificat defeated MND 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-16) in an OHSAA Division I state semifinal at Wright State University’s Nutter Center. James Weber, The Enquirer, 12 Nov. 2021 The source is not a typical reactor with huge cooling towers but is the first of a new generation of smaller and potentially more versatile nuclear plants — in this case aboard a barge floating nearby in the Arctic Ocean. New York Times, 5 Nov. 2021 Indeed, Port, which is much more versatile than its reputation allows, is not limited to a quiet evening by the fire. Katie Kelly Bell, Forbes, 28 Oct. 2021 His offense, which has turned more versatile, more prolific with Cam Rising at quarterback, has helped mask some of the defensive shortcomings. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Oct. 2021 The rookie tight end Kyle Pitts leads the team in receiving yards (471) and has developed into a dependable option, as has the versatile back Cordarrelle Patterson. New York Times, 28 Oct. 2021 Hazen admits the club might have brought some of their defensive issues upon themselves in their attempt to have a more versatile group of position players. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, 23 Sep. 2021 The Cowboys were a lot more versatile with their alignments. Nick Kehoe, Dallas News, 10 Sep. 2021 Stanley was perhaps the best pass blocker in football in 2019, and the Ravens need that player back to facilitate all their big plans for a more versatile aerial attack. Childs Walker,, 8 Sep. 2021

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

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for versatile

borrowed from Latin versātilis "able to turn, operated by turning, capable of turning to different tasks," from versāre "to keep turning" (frequentative of vertere "to turn") + -tilis, suffix with the sense "characterized by, obtained by" — more at worth entry 1

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The first known use of versatile was in 1605

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Versatile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for versatile


ver·​sa·​tile | \ ˈvər-sə-tᵊl How to pronounce versatile (audio) \

Kids Definition of versatile

1 : able to do many different kinds of things
2 : having many uses a versatile tool

More from Merriam-Webster on versatile

Nglish: Translation of versatile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of versatile for Arabic Speakers


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