- a suffix meaning “capable of, susceptible of, fit for, tending to, given to,” associated in meaning with the word able, occurring in loanwords from Latin (laudable); used in English as a highly productive suffix to form adjectives by addition to stems of any origin (teachable; photographable).
Origin of -able
- capable of, suitable for, or deserving of (being acted upon as indicated)enjoyable; pitiable; readable; separable; washable
- inclined to; given to; able to; causingcomfortable; reasonable; variable
Word Origin and History for -able
word-forming element expressing ability, capacity, fitness, from French, from Latin -ibilis, -abilis, forming adjectives from verbs, from PIE *-tro-, a suffix used to form nouns of instrument.
In Latin, infinitives in -are took -abilis, others -ibilis; in English, -able tends to be used with native (and other non-Latin) words, -ible with words of obvious Latin origin (but there are exceptions). The Latin suffix is not etymologically connected with able, but it long has been popularly associated with it, and this has contributed to its survival as a living suffix. It is related to the second syllable of rudder and saddle.