Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Legally obligated; responsible: liable for military service. See Synonyms at responsible.
  • adj. At risk of or subject to experiencing or suffering something unpleasant. Used with to: liable to criminal charges; liable to diabetes.
  • adj. Likely. Often used with reference to an unfavorable outcome: In a depression banks are liable to fail.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Bound or obliged in law or equity; responsible; answerable.
  • adj. Exposed to a certain contingency or casualty, more or less probable.
  • adj. Likely.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Bound or obliged in law or equity; responsible; answerable.
  • adj. Exposed to a certain contingency or casualty, more or less probable; -- with to and an infinitive or noun

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Bound in law or equity; responsible; answerable: as, the surety is liable for the debt of his principal.
  • Having an aptitude or tendency; subject; exposed, as to the doing or occurring of something evil, injurious, or erroneous: as, we are constantly liable to accidents; your plans are liable to defeat.
  • Subordinate; subject.
  • Fit; suitable.
  • Synonyms Incident, Subject, Likely, etc. (see incident); Apt, likely, etc. (see apt).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. held legally responsible
  • adj. subject to legal action
  • adj. (often followed by `to') likely to be affected with
  • adj. at risk of or subject to experiencing something usually unpleasant

Etymologies

Middle English, probably from Old French lier, to bind, from Latin ligāre; see leig- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French lier ("to bind"), from Latin ligare ("to bind, to tie") (Wiktionary)

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