from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having sufficient power or resources to accomplish something.
  • adjective Usage Problem Susceptible to action or treatment.
  • adjective Especially capable or proficient.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To enable.
  • To warrant or answer for.
  • Having power or means sufficient; qualified; competent: as, a man able to perform military service; a child is not able to reason on abstract subjects.
  • Legally entitled or authorized; having the requisite legal qualification: as, an illegitimate son is not able to take by inheritance.
  • In an absolute sense: Vigorous; active.
  • Having strong or unusual powers of mind, or intellectual qualifications: as, an able minister.
  • noun Same as ablet.
  • noun A common termination of English adjectives, especially of those based on verbs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective obsolete Fit; adapted; suitable.
  • adjective Having sufficient power, strength, force, skill, means, or resources of any kind to accomplish the object; possessed of qualifications rendering competent for some end; competent; qualified; capable
  • adjective Specially: Having intellectual qualifications, or strong mental powers; showing ability or skill; talented; clever; powerful
  • adjective (Law) Legally qualified; possessed of legal competence.
  • transitive verb To make able; to enable; to strengthen.
  • transitive verb To vouch for.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A word that is used in place of the letter "A" during communication.

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

  • adjective have the skills and qualifications to do things well
  • adjective having inherent physical or mental ability or capacity
  • adjective (usually followed by `to') having the necessary means or skill or know-how or authority to do something
  • adjective having a strong healthy body


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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin habilis, from habēre, to handle; see ghabh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old Northern French able, variant of Old French abile, habile, from Latin habilis ("easily managed, held, or handled; apt; skillful"), from habeō ("have, hold").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English ablen, from Middle English able (adjective).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word able.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

    Able seaman, one able to do any sort of work required on a ship, may be the origin of this:

    "Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors. |Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867|"


    January 28, 2022