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[ey-buh l] /ˈeɪ bəl/
adjective, abler, ablest.
having necessary power, skill, resources, or qualifications; qualified:
able to lift a two-hundred-pound weight; able to write music; able to travel widely; able to vote.
having unusual or superior intelligence, skill, etc.:
an able leader.
showing talent, skill, or knowledge:
an able speech.
legally empowered, qualified, or authorized.
(usually initial capital letter) a code word formerly used in communications to represent the letter A.
Origin of able
1275-1325; Middle English < Middle French < Latin habilis handy, equivalent to hab(ēre) to have, hold + -ilis -ile
Related forms
overable, adjective
overably, adverb
1. fit, fitted. 2. talented; skilled, clever, ingenious. 3. apt.
1. incompetent.
Synonym Study
1. Able, capable, competent all mean possessing adequate power for doing something. Able implies power equal to effort required: able to finish in time. Capable implies power to meet or fulfill ordinary requirements: a capable worker. Competent suggests power to meet demands in a completely satisfactory manner: a competent nurse. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for abler
Historical Examples
  • We are not abler than others whom you might find by the dozen in any civilised country.

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • And if not, are there not thousands of abler pens laboring for its improvement?

  • Had he lived, the composition of this book would have been in abler hands than mine.

    Daring and Suffering: William Pittenger
  • In this respect Gladstone proved himself an abler tactician than Pitt.

    William Pitt and the Great War John Holland Rose
  • Madame Letellier merits the description of an abler pen than mine.

    The Forsaken Inn Anna Katharine Green
  • All students of our art are familiar with it as presented by abler hands than mine.

    Pioneer Surgery in Kentucky David W. Yandell
  • So much the better, replied Pilledge; the business could not be in abler hands.

    The Entail

    John Galt
  • He was treading in the steps of other, and abler men, who had gone before him.

  • Stronger statements than these of Mill's, or by an abler authority, could not be asked for.

    Honest Money Arthur Isaac Fonda
  • However, an abler Ministry than ever was got together, and in October he returned to London.

    Talleyrand Joseph McCabe
British Dictionary definitions for abler


(postpositive) having the necessary power, resources, skill, time, opportunity, etc, to do something: able to swim
capable; competent; talented: an able teacher
(law) qualified, competent, or authorized to do some specific act
Word Origin
C14: ultimately from Latin habilis easy to hold, manageable, apt, from habēre to have, hold + -ilis-ile
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for abler



early 14c., from Old French (h)able (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (see habit). "Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c., but some derivatives acquired it (e.g. habiliment, habilitate), via French.

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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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