Definitions

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

  • adjective Capable of doing many things competently.
  • adjective Having varied uses or serving many functions.
  • adjective Variable or inconstant; changeable.
  • adjective Biology Capable of moving freely in all directions, as the loosely attached anthers of certain flowers.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In ichthyology, capable of being turned either way: describing a spine, a tooth, or any organ that may not be usually so turned.
  • Capable of being moved or turned round: as, a versatile spindle.
  • Changeable; variable; unsteady; inconstant.
  • Turning with ease from one thing to another; readily applying one's self to a new task, or to various subjects; many-sided: as, a versatile writer; a versatile actor.
  • In botany, swinging or turning freely on a support: especially noting an anther fixed by the middle on the apex of the filament, and swinging freely to and fro. See cuts under anther and lily.
  • In ornithology, specifically, reversible: noting any toe of a bird which may be turned either forward or backward.
  • In entomology, moving freely up and down or laterally: as, versatile antennæ.

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

  • adjective Capable of being turned round.
  • adjective Liable to be turned in opinion; changeable; variable; unsteady; inconstant.
  • adjective Turning with ease from one thing to another; readily applied to a new task, or to various subjects; many-sided.
  • adjective (Nat. Hist.) Capable of turning; freely movable

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

  • adjective Capable of doing many things competently.
  • adjective Having varied uses or many functions.
  • adjective Changeable or inconstant.
  • adjective biology Capable of moving freely in all directions.

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

  • adjective able to move freely in all directions
  • adjective having great diversity or variety
  • adjective changeable or inconstant
  • adjective competent in many areas and able to turn with ease from one thing to another

Etymologies

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

[Latin versātilis, from versātus, past participle of versāre, to turn; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin versātilis ("turning easily"), from versātus, past participle of versō ("I turn, change"), frequentative of vertō ("I turn").

Examples

  • For daytime, she favors a long, simple gold necklace with a large pendant, which she calls versatile and not too showy.

    The Ins and Outs of

  • Thus the 18-200 is what I call a versatile lense, it's not a dedicated piece of lens for dedicated or a particular usage though if you'd very much want, you can use it for sports / portraits / wildlife etc.

    www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  • Thus the 18-200 is what I call a versatile lense, it's not a dedicated piece of lens for dedicated or a particular usage though if you'd very much want, you can use it for sports / portraits / wildlife etc.

    www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  • Thus the 18-200 is what I call a versatile lense, it's not a dedicated piece of lens for dedicated or a particular usage though if you'd very much want, you can use it for sports / portraits / wildlife etc.

    www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  • Probably the most common and most versatile is a 30-06 with a 3-9x40.

    Rifles

  • Probably most versatile is full choke, as you can start shooting a long way off, and continue as they climb out of sight.

    What choke do you suggest using for waterfowl hunting with a 12 ga

  • Probably most versatile is full choke, as you can start shooting a long way off, and continue as they climb out of sight.

    What choke do you suggest using for waterfowl hunting with a 12 ga

  • Probably the most common and most versatile is a 30-06 with a 3-9x40.

    Rifles

  • The trade would call this "feminine"; I would call it versatile and very, very smooth.

    Sweet Home Louisiana

  • The trade would call this "feminine"; I would call it versatile and very, very smooth.

    Sweet Home Louisiana

Comments

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  • OED2 (1989) claims it also means "bisexual" (or "both homosexual and heterosexual, as they put it), listing two examples:

    1959 C. MACINNES Absolute Beginners 64 No one..cares..if you're boy, or girl, or bent, or versatile, or what you are.

    1960 M. SPARK Ballad Peckham Rye iii. 32 Dougal was probably pansy. ‘I don't think so... He's got a girl somewhere.’ ‘Might be versatile.’

    If it did indeed mean this, it was apparently short-lived.

    September 11, 2010