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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ablest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In English some of the ablest writers have employed dialect.

  • Even the ablest naturalist who has written about him is puzzled as to his species.

    Bruin Mayne Reid
  • He wrote back, on the 9th November, a letter which would alone stamp him as the ablest English statesman of his day.

  • Among its contributors will be found our oldest and ablest writers.

  • Dr. Smith is one of America's ablest representatives at foreign courts.

    In Kali's Country Emily Churchill Thompson Sheets
  • And yet one of the ablest men of the parish had tended her own garden for years.

    Change in the Village (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt
  • The first and ablest aid Mr. Webster received was from Calhoun, then second to none in his influence.

British Dictionary definitions for ablest


(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 ablest



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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