ability

[ uh-bil-i-tee ]
/ əˈbɪl ɪ ti /

noun, plural a·bil·i·ties.

power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.
competence in an activity or occupation because of one's skill, training, or other qualification: the ability to sing well.
abilities, talents; special skills or aptitudes: Composing music is beyond his abilities.

Nearby words

  1. abietate,
  2. abietic acid,
  3. abigail,
  4. abihu,
  5. abilene,
  6. ability grouping,
  7. abimelech,
  8. abingdon,
  9. abington,
  10. abinoam

Origin of ability

1350–1400; Middle English (h)abilite < Middle French < Latin habilitās aptitude, equivalent to habili(s) handy (see able) + -tās -ty2; replacing Middle English ablete < Old French < Latin, as above

Related formssub·a·bil·i·ty, noun, plural sub·a·bil·i·ties.

Can be confusedability capacity

Synonym study

2. Ability, faculty, talent denote qualifications or powers. Ability is a general word for power, native or acquired, enabling one to do things well: a person of great ability; ability in mathematics. Faculty denotes a natural ability for a particular kind of action: a faculty of saying what he means. Talent is often used to mean a native ability or aptitude in a special field: a talent for music or art.

-ability

a combination of -able and -ity, found on nouns corresponding to adjectives in -able: capability.

Origin of -ability

Middle English -abiliteLatin -ābilitās

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ability


British Dictionary definitions for ability

ability

/ (əˈbɪlɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

possession of the qualities required to do something; necessary skill, competence, or powerthe ability to cope with a problem
considerable proficiency; natural capabilitya man of ability
(plural) special talents

Word Origin for ability

C14: from Old French from Latin habilitās aptitude, handiness, from habilis able

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

Word Origin and History for ability
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper